Sparano Soundbites

Coach Tony Sparano touched on a variety of subjects, including the AFC playoff picture in his day-after-the-game press conference on Monday. Here's a transcript of Sparano's press conference.

On playing Jacksonville this week, and the playoff implications attached to the game: "I just know that of that mix of people there, they won this weekend. It was a big win for them, and it sounds to me like they hold some of the keys to the Wildcard spot right now. It's a big game for us. We're well aware of it. We just finished this one, we'll put it behind us here once we finish this film in a little while, and get right on to Jacksonville."

On having the rare ability to play many of the teams in front of them in the playoff standings this late in the season: "We talked a little bit about that last week just in the fact that some of these things were going to come rolling down the turnpike here, and that this game mattered an awful lot. That game's out of the way, so move one. We'll have a few of them coming up that are going to be big games, none bigger than this one."

On Davone Bess' performance against the Patriots: "He did a nice job yesterday. Obviously one of the big things, running after the catch was critical. I think that there was clear emphasis on the Patriots part to try to take Davone away. There was some double coverage out there on him at times, and Davone did a good job beating double coverage a few times. A few times they had him in and out on some things, and he made some good decisions, and caught the ball and split it and ran it, and broke a few tackles, did some good things that way. Got a little bit better yesterday, one of the things Karl's [Dorrell] been doing a good job of and getting on his back about is route depth, being patient in some of these things, and he was pretty patient, which helped the process a little bit I thought yesterday. We just have to do a good job at the end taking care of the football and keeping the ball closer to our body."

On if he thought it was part of the Patriots initial game plan to take Bess out of the game: "I kind of felt like at the end of the first game, that Bess in that situation was a guy that they were concerned a lot about in trying to take him away. There was a little bit of double coverage as that game went on, some people kind of over the top of him. We felt like they might try to press him as much as they could press him, so moving him around a little bit, trying to do some things that way. We moved him outside-in, just have him constantly moving and taking the press off him if we could. I thought that it was good design and it gave him a chance."

On what Sean Smith and Vontae Davis getting extensive experience this season means for their futures: "There's no way it could hurt them, really can't, unless they're fragile from an ego standpoint, which neither one of them are. I would think that going out there, you get into these situations, playing against great people every week, and they're battling their tails off to try to make plays out there. You look at both their bylines yesterday, and they were both pretty good. Gave up a play of two. The one play on the sideline with Sean, the guy is in good position, he just doesn't get his hands on the ball and the guy out-wrestles him for the football and makes a good run. Short of that there's only one other play really where Sean had a little bit of problem out there. Vontae I thought, Vontae really competed well the whole day, he really did. The play Vontae makes on the goal line, in the red area I should say, is really showing us good progress. The guy was square the whole time, had his eyes on the ball, kept the defender in front of him, and made a play on the ball. That's the way you coach it, and that's the way he played it. Did a great job in a big situation. These things to me, are showing us a little bit of progress. There's still bumps there, no doubt about it, the guy completed, I want to say it was four balls for 225 yards yesterday. He had 19 completions, he had four of them for 225 yards and 15 of them for about 130 yards. We have to eliminate the big play. One of the things that hurt us was the big play in the fourth quarter, and there was no big plays in the fourth quarter, which I think credit goes to those guys again."

On how much showing that the team can win passing the ball helps keep opposing defenses honest: "I think it's important, I really do, I think it does keep defenses honest. I think one of the things people have tried to de here, is you just look at the progression, [it] is more and more people in the box, and they're daring him [Henne] to throw the football. From Chad's standpoint, he's been able to do that, just not at the rate that we did it yesterday. That was part of the plan coming in, that was what we we're going to do, and we felt good about it. We just felt like we had to be aggressive, that kind of aggressive in this plan. That being said, there was some things in the run game. Take away, which we can't do, but the Pat White deal there, the fumble thing there, and we're averaging over four yards a carry again with our run game. So we knew kind of where we wanted to go with the run game in that game plan, we just weren't sure how many times. We got down by 14, I think that dictated us to maybe be a little more aggressive early. Once that started to happen, we just wanted to keep our foot on the accelerator a little bit."

On how many plays Ricky Williams had yesterday: "He got 52 plays. He got 52 plays, I'll tell you one thing, he blocked tremendous yesterday. Our three backs yesterday, Ricky, Lex [Hilliard], and Lou[saka] Polite, really drew the short straw yesterday because they were dealing with the Sam and Will linebacker the whole day. Those guys were coming after us pretty good that way, and those guys stepped in there every time and blocked those guys pretty well. A big part of one sack, that goes back to that whole deal, you think it's just the offensive line, but [Anthony] Fasano made four pass sets that game that were outstanding, and then those backs really did a good job of pitching in and blocking too. part of Ricky's job description yesterday was to block, and he did a good job of that."

On how the team emerged from the game health-wise: "We have some bumps and bruises, we're just kind of gathering some of that right now. Some minor things, I don't think there's really anything out there that's too, too major, but we'll have a better idea in a little while."

On if Nate Jones suffered a concussion in the game yesterday: "No, no, no. I would say no to that."

On route depth: "The problem is when you're supposed to get up the field – call it 12 yards – and put your foot in the ground and come out, instead of maybe rounding it at nine to get to 12, and you don't push it to the full 12 before you get out, sometimes the quarterback thinks he has more time to throw that than he really does. If you're rounding it, and you're in there now and he's not prepared to throw the ball, then the timing in this thing is a little bit off. It's like taking a six yard route and turning it into a four yard roll route. He's not loaded yet, ready to go, he hasn't hit his back foot, you're already out of your break. Sometimes it gives that guy a little bit greater chance to come out of his break on defense and play you. Those little things, those little fundamentals, we had a few of them yesterday, Davone got better at it, we had a couple guys not so good at it yesterday at different times. Some of those things I think are really important to the outcome of the passing game. A lot of those things got better yesterday, a few of them were left out there on the table."

On the utilization of Pat White: "They did a good job yesterday, and you could see what they did. Obviously, they put some time into that part of it. We thought we had a good call when we put Pat out there. What they were going to do yesterday was to hurry him. They were going to hurry him, and scrape the linebacker over the top to handle the pitch, which we were prepared for, but you just don't get that kind of look in practice. We're not going to tee off on Pat at practice, so it's happening a little bit faster than it normally does, and I think we have to do a better job that way ourselves of putting him in that position, and he's got to do a better job of handling the ball."

On Greg Camarillo having a productive game: "It wasn't so much an emphasis as it was… with Camarillo we kind of know…he is in the big packages. We keep him out there in some of the big package stuff, so he played a lot of plays yesterday. He played 67 plays yesterday, most out of any receiver. With that in mind, pretty crafty guy on third down. We felt like it was important in this game to try and give Chad [Henne] a lot of Camarillo, a lot of [Brian] Hartline early in this game. Two guys that I think [are] pretty crafty out there, do some of those things. Use [Ted Ginn] on some of the deeper stuff, we got Teddy on a slant in there which we really wanted to do and see him run with the ball. We had different roles for some of those guys and his role was just a little bit bigger yesterday."

On not running the Wildcat at all during the game: "It was the plan. We didn't have it up and ready right now. To be honest with you, we had two plays on the game plan sheet we thought were good plays if we needed to go to it but wasn't something we needed to go to at this point."

On how much the Wildcat will be part of the offense going forward: "I don't know. It just depends what we see on tape, it really does. We will look at it on tape, bring it out there, but whatever we have to do to win we are going to do it. We might do that 52 times."

On the progression of Cameron Wake: "Cameron is getting better, he really is. There are some things fundamentally he has to do a little bit better job of at times. I have to do a better job of getting him out there. The guy factors, he is a little bit of a changeup. Got by the quarterback high one time, ran by him. Other than that, he gave us good rushes in the game and it was a great rush on the [Brady interception in their final drive]. It was really good get off, got underneath, finished. So it was a really good rush at the right time."

On it always seems to be Greg Camarillo making clutch plays, with the latest being the 4th and 6 conversion yesterday: "There is something to be said for that; putting the right player in the right spot. Camarillo is a guy that I think we all have great confidence that he is going to the right thing all the time. He is patient with his routes, has great savvy out there, really knows how to work a defender. Those are his strengths. His strengths are not that he is going to run by you, though he did make catch on a fade yesterday in the game. Again, that whole thing is fundamentals there when you look at it. Greg saved room, he took the ball over his outside shoulder, he protected the ball from the defender. All those things, when you look at Camarillo, you kind of know what you are getting. In that situation, on that particular sprint, he was just the right guy to have. We ran the same play earlier in the game and it was Davone [Bess] on our sideline who ended up catching the ball. In that situation, it was the right guy at the right spot."

On if he took over the offensive play calling at any point yesterday: "I didn't take over the play calling, no [offensive coordinator] Dan [Henning] did it. I just communicating and making suggestions; as many suggestions as we could make. We had great communication out there yesterday in all three phases of the game. I thought the coaches did a really good job preparing the guys this week, they really did."

On if he had to say anything to the team at the start of the fourth quarter yesterday: "They got it, but I encouraged it a little bit. I think they got it though. It is just an interesting series of events. We didn't have a penalty in the game until the fourth quarter. Well this is part of the study I did with this group the other day. It is the number of our penalties and where they are occurring. Going into this week game, we had 24 offensive penalties which is 4th best in the league, but 12 of them happened in the fourth quarter of the game and 9 of those were false starts. On defense we had 27 penalties, which is the 22nd best in the league. Nine of those happened in the fourth quarter. So we had 21 penalties of our 57, which is the 5th best in the league, that happened in the fourth quarter of the game. Well, here we go, we get into the fourth quarter of the game we have a penalty on [Erik] Walden, we have a penalty on [Paul] Soliai, and we have 12 men on the field. All in the fourth quarter of the game; boom, boom, boom. I am thinking it is time for me make sure these guys understand all the work we did. To their credit, they did a great job. Big plays were part of that formula, third downs were part of that formula, scoring opportunities and the guys did a tremendous job, they really did. We have one turnover created in the fourth quarter the whole season right now and we created two turnovers, big scoring drive, some key third down stops. I think our defense, if I am correct, in the last 4 series, they gave up 60 yards in the last 4 series of the game; had two punts and two interceptions. I think they did a great job."

On if he potentially would have played the end of the first half differently had they been starting on defense in the second half instead of offense: "I would have considered it a little bit to be honest with you. I felt like there are a lot of bad things that can happen there. We could end up with no points in that situation. To me, in that situation, the right thing to do was what we did; take the points knowing we were going to get the ball coming out [of the half]."

On Nate Garner and Justin Smiley playing a lot together in the respective guard spots on the offense line: "Honestly, when we inserted Justin, I thought Justin started to do some pretty good things and the line started to get a little bit comfortable and that is the kind of the way we rode it right there."

On what the impact of more playing time for Cameron Wake would have on the other defensive players: "That depends on the package. It would depend on where we used him in the packages. If we put him in there in base defense, it would be less snaps for Joey [Porter], if we put him in there in the nickel or the dime stuff, it would be Joey or [Jason Taylor], depending on how we rotate that threesome. We have been rotating those guys in and out. Yesterday, Charlie [Anderson] played a little more in one of those packages, so we didn't have to have Charlie involved so much in the rotation. It was kind of like a three man rotation as it was, between Charlie, Jason, Joey and we were able to get Cameron involved at times in the dime stuff. We played a little less dime than we did one of the other packages."

On if he has looked at the playoff scenarios: "I really haven't honesty. I just told [senior vice president of media relations] Harvey [Greene] this, I have no idea. I don't really care to. I just know that the team we are playing this week won and that makes this a big football game. We just gave ourselves an opportunity to keep playing big football games for however long it lasts. For however long there is that possibility there, however long you people tell me there is still a chance, I am going to listen. There is a chance and the chance got a little better yesterday due to the people in that locker room."

On if he likes the playoff mentality approach of win and stay alive: "I like knowing [we] haven a chance right now. I kind of like it. I like knowing that you have a chance and like knowing there are some teams right now not playing for very much and we have a chance. We are going to try to do everything in our power to make this the best run we can make it. We will see where it goes. I don't have a crystal ball, but I know those guys just played their tails off.

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