Sparano Soundbites

After having a chance to watch the game film, Coach Tony Sparano addressed the media on Monday for his customary day-after-the-game press conference. Here's what Sparano had to say about the 27-17 loss at New England.

On after watching the game tape, if the pass rush bothered him the most: "No, I think when you look at the tape, there are a lot of variables that come into play. One, [New England] is pretty good. They do a good job in their pass game offense, we knew that. I think their offense of line is pretty good. We had some rush attempts that we needed to covert. Sometimes we had 5, 6 guys in the rush that we needed to covert and somebody needed to win and didn't win. At times we didn't hold up long enough in the back end. There are a lot of variables, not only the rush certainly. We hit [Tom] Brady seven times in the game, they hit us five times."

On Cameron Wake's play yesterday: "Cameron Wake made a couple plays. He had a pressure, he had a sack. Played 11 plays, he had a pressure, he had a sack. We had one thing we needed to clean up, that we will clean up when we watch this film but it was progress."

On clarification of how many plays Cameron Wake played: "Eleven plays, I believe, yes."

On the evaluation of Vontae Davis' play yesterday: "Vontae had a hard job yesterday, no question about it. [Patriots wide receiver] Randy [Moss] did a good job versus him. Not all of it was Vontae depending on coverage. We had a couple man-to-man situations, one, obviously, there was a contested ball on the sideline, their sideline, which was a 37-yard gain, which set up, I believe, their first score but Vontae was in great position. He was in great position on the interception. He was in great position on another deep ball that was thrown out there. Then Randy caught him on the crosser which was a time where we had a six man pressure in the game and we were playing man coverage. We did not play man coverage the entire game. In fact, we played probably as much zone [coverage] as we played man in this game, but they just happened to catch us in a six man pressure in that situation and Vontae wasn't alone on that play."

On if there is any explanation on how a team's turnover margin can differentiate drastically from one year to the next: "I don't think so. Probably concentration a little, probably ‘eating the cheese' a little bit, maybe thinking that these things cannot happen to me and all of a sudden they do. But that wasn't one of the problems yesterday. That being said, yesterday the ball was out of our hands twice during the course of the game. There was an interception that was returned that we ended up getting back by a penalty. Those are three balls; I call them balls that were out. So you don't want to ignore the signs, you want to pay attention. To me, we will get that corrected. But that wasn't the issue yesterday. We played a game yesterday with zero turnovers, whatever it was, three penalties, somewhere in that range. That is pretty clean."

On the continued development of the rookie cornerbacks: "I think they are getting better. I think they are getting better and better, I really do. I think they are challenging the football. I think that Sean Smith played a pretty good game yesterday. Game wasn't too big for Sean at all yesterday. I thought Vontae started really well in that game. Vontae was challenging them out there. When Vontae, on the one ball he broke up there, he kind of got his hip banged around there and came to the sidelines. He was out of the game and out of the flow for a period there, kind of working on getting him back in. When he came back in, that is when they made a couple of plays but to answer your question, I think those guys are progressing pretty well and they are getting a heck of a baptism out there."

On evaluation of Chad Henne overall when facing the blitz and defensive pressure: "I think he is doing a nice job. A couple times yesterday, on one or two of those we had one or two ‘run-throughs' yesterday that were just…we did a poor job handling that situation. He doesn't have a chance there but I thought for the most part yesterday Chad handled the pressure pretty well. I think he is getting better and better at seeing it. I thought yesterday his pocket presence was very good. If you want to talk about how he improved from Week 1 to Week 2, or last week to this week I should say, his pocket presence was much better this week - his anticipation, ball getting out pretty fast yesterday. Did not hold the ball, did not take, I mean we got sacked a couple of times, but we got sacked, he didn't take sacks. Threw the ball away one time, so I thought he did a good job during the course of the game."

On if he thinks his team is better than the 3-5 record indicates: "I think we are a 3-5 football team. I think you are what your record says you are, but from my end, I know in my heart that we are pretty close to be being a pretty good team. I don't know what ‘pretty good' means, I really don't. We have played some teams that are supposed to be ‘really good'. I don't know what is ‘pretty good' and what is ‘really good' and what the difference is. But I do think we are pretty close. We had a chance yesterday at halftime to keep turning this thing, to keep grinding to get this thing turned and offensively I thought we came out and did a great job in that first series. Time of possession in that first quarter was obviously all us. They ran three plays, four plays and had two scores in those four plays. We got to just do a better job as a whole of answering some of those critical situations whether it be offensively – the week before we couldn't get anything generated there – defensively…. I think this team is really close to being a pretty good football team and we just have to keep turning it. We are a point right now this thing can go either way, it really can, but I am going to try my best to make sure it only goes one way."

On what his message is to the team at the midway point of the season: "My message is that we have two games right now in ten days, and I think that can change an awful lot. What we can worry about and control is what we control, I really could care less about any of that other stuff right now. My concentration is on [that] we have one football game at home this weekend, but we do play two games in ten days, so there's a body of work that has to go into that right now and I just want them to understand, watch the tape, and know that we are pretty close to being a good team. Nobody's going to feel bad for you in this game, that's for sure. If you don't make the breaks, you aren't going to get them all the time. Sometimes you have to go out and make your own breaks. From our standpoint, we need to make our own breaks. We need to get a couple more turnovers, we need to score on a few chunk plays, we need to do some of those things. Those things are coming around, I can see them, they're not far away."

On how much the team missed Jason Ferguson yesterday and how Paul Soliai played in a fill-in role: "We missed Ferguson yesterday, but that being said, Paul had a good game the week before, and yesterday's game was kind of a game that we had a couple different things going on in there with their personnel groupings. Tony McDaniel played in there a little bit as well. I think Paul would tell you that yesterday probably wasn't his better game, he did some decent things early, kind of tweaked an ankle there for a split second and then came back in there. They ran the ball for 4.5 yards a carry, so when you're running the ball for 4.5 yards a carry and you're a nose [tackle] in there, or a defensive lineman, or a linebacker, or any of those things, you're not going to feel great about it."

On how he would assess himself and his staff halfway through the season: "We have to do a better job. We have to do a better job preparing these guys every week, we have to do a better job of those things. Have to do a better job finding ways to win some of these big games, some of these critical games as we get on. I think that our coaching staff has tried to utilize our personnel to the best of their ability right now. We've tried to put the right guys in the right spots so to speak, every once-in-a-while you miss. That's not good, if you miss, you have to re-evaluate it and you have to try to make it right. So that's what we're doing."

On how he would assess the receiving corps midway through the season and if Chad Henne is getting enough help from this group: "Look, I think they're getting better and better as a group, I really do. I think [Greg] Camarillo showed up yesterday and made some plays for him. I think [Davone] Bess made some plays, Bess had one ball there that probably, Bess would tell you he should have caught. There was a couple opportunities out there yesterday to be made and I thought that they made them. I think they're getting better and better as a group, again, it's not a group where – it's going to take four of them every week I think, four of them to be involved and somebody to make a couple plays there. They're getting better, I like their progress. Karl [Dorrell] has done a nice job."

On a second being left on the clock at the end of the first half and if he could have asked for a review of that play: "No."

On the team playing well, yet inconsistent, in different aspects each week and if the inconsistency is a sign of a developing team: "To be honest with you, we need to execute a little bit better, that's what we need to do. That sounds easy, it sounds like ‘that's what the coach is supposed to say,' but that's what I'm telling you. Yesterday, on defense, mental errors, we probably had seven mental errors on defense. That might be the low of the season, that's the truth, that might be the low of the season. It isn't a mental thing, it isn't any of those things, it's getting off of blocks, it's tackling in some situations. It's execution of man-to-man technique, or zone principles when you're in coverage, a pass drop. On the offensive side of the ball, leaving bodies in the hole, a double team execution, running the right depth, these kind of things. Those are things that we're constantly badgering them about, and on Saturday night in the hotel, I told them that this game would probably come down to details, and that we needed to concentrate on the details. This team does a good job of that. They were clean, pretty disciplined, we didn't have many mental errors, that team [the Patriots] made more plays than we did. We just have to keep executing and the wheel will turn. To go back to your question [about the second left on the clock at the end of the first half], that's their review, not mine, meaning the officials."

On if it is a relief that Tampa Bay won yesterday so he does not have to face questions about facing a winless team: "Listen, you guys would ask those questions without a doubt. I'm not saying that to be a jerk, I understand. From our end, we need to win a football game, I don't care who we're playing. We need to win a football game. Is it better that they won or lost? That doesn't matter to me. We need to take care of what we need to take care of, and that's wining a football game."

On when a team overcomes things he talked about, such as missed physical assignments: "We're getting there, we really are getting there. Yesterday for the most part was a clean game. It just comes down to a couple plays that they make and a couple plays that we don't. I think we're getting there, we're getting better in a lot of phases right now. I thought our special teams played pretty well again yesterday, we had one return come out of there for 34 yards yesterday. I thought for the most part, those kind of situations were better during the course of the game yesterday. We're concentrating on the second half of the ballgame, starting fast. We take a drive down the field, get a score, defense holds them in the first series of the game. There's some things that we're getting better at right now, and we're just going to keep pushing them, and keep pushing them, and continue to get better. One thing I know I have, is I have a willing team. I have a team that doesn't mind working, they are pretty willing, and they pay attention. As long as we have those things, I think we're going to be OK."


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