By: Jason Sarney
Day 2 of rookie introductions to Miami media continued on Saturday and “class” was once again in session for the freshmen Dolphins. Friday had a number of new members of the team dance around questions as if they were running through tires during an on-field drill. In what was a very interesting, intriguing, and well-planned strategy of question answering, it became clear that from top to bottom, this organization is all about a team mindset and constantly learning to master one's craft.
As referenced yesterday in a previous article, with speculation, this could be a direct correlation to infrastructure within the Miami front office that includes a fantastic new hire of ex-New England Patriot, Anne Noland, who is now Miami’s Senior Director of Football Communication. This means, in all likelihood, that what is disseminated to the media could very well be a strategic New England-like style that quite frankly… works.
It's with this sub-plot too, what is usually what some may find a mundane aspect of social media coverage in terms of player press conferences, but I certainly beg to differ. I very much enjoyed this potential strategy, and simply lost count of how many times the words “team,” “teammates,” “learn,” and “learning,” were used as well as, “playbook.”
Being that this is an educational minded two day coverage piece, I'm going to keep the school mindset and do a little bit of an experiment as this article was composed 1/2 hour before the first player began the presser. My hypothesis is that those four words will be used to redundancy exactly the way they were used on Friday with the first group of rookies.
And here we go, with my unscientific method of breaking the bad chemistry that plagued this team in previous regimes.
(Word Count from Friday:)
“Team” = 21
“Teammate” = 11
“Learn” = 16
“Learning = 6
“Playbook” = 8
First man up, Oregon defensive back, pick #36, Jevon Holland. His word of the day was “knowledge,” and also happens to be the son of a football coach.
"I'm trying to absorb as much knowledge as possible and do anything to help the team win," Holland led with when asked if he would play cornerback or safety.
A reporter asked Holland about coach Brian Flores singing his praises as a potential quarterback in the secondary, which is rare to do for a rookie. Holland responded, “Having a team mentality is what goes into that." He adds, “just trying to absorb as much knowledge as possible and at the end of the day help my teammates as much as possible."
And away we go with the word “knowledge,” as if Holland may be secretly endorsing a new energy drink of the same name…
When asked about Xavien Howard and creating interceptions, Holland had a savvy answer. “"I think in college it's a completely different beast than the NFL." He went on to say, "I have no knowledge of how to get an interception in the NFL." Then followed that up with, "when Xavien gets here, I hope to pick his brain & get as much knowledge as he can give me.”
Holland continued to preach the same gospel, and used the phrase, “absorbing as much knowledge as possible,” a few times.
Holland is as advertised in terms of his intellectual prowess and football IQ, which is evident in his answers.
Speaking of football IQ, first rounder and University of Miami star, Jaelan Phillips joined next and simply sounded like either a coach, or a version of a former Dolphin sack-master, but I hate to get ahead of myself.
Phillips was asked early if he had spoken with Hall of Fame Miami Dolphin superstar, Jason Taylor. While Phillips said he has yet to do so, he used the word “legend” to describe the franchises sack-king. Phillips, who talked shop as if he were a coach himself, used the buzz-word, “playbook” at least for the trifecta.
He stated. "I'm just trying to learn the new playbook and do whatever I can." A moment later, he added on another response, "there is no time to reflect right now, my head is full of playbook."
Another test "aced" by a prized pupil it seems.
Any pupil of Notre Dame is a terrific student. It’s a must. Liam Eichenberg is just that, and in terms of press-conference performance, he passed with flying orange and aqua colors. His word of choice was “improve,” and said, "I just want to improve. It's not about starting right now; I just want to improve."
He then added to that, saying, "being able to play wherever the team needs you..." as something to compare himself to when talking about former Fighting Irish teammates in the NFL he gets tips from. He is aware he could be used at a variety of spots, and says, “it doesn't matter if I'm playing guard, center, or tackle.... I’ll figure it out."
Figuring out seems to be an easy job for him or at least a solid bet, as he says, “it just goes back to fundamentals and technique...every rep is important, not just 1 in 1's." And when talking about reps, that word is extremely important to undrafted free agents Jerome Johnson and Robert Jones.
They both had their word that stood out, that being “opportunity” and “compete,” respectively. "It was a great opportunity for me to learn and get acclimated to the system." Jerome Johnson on his choosing the Dolphins as a UDFA.
Jones, who had an ear-to-ear smile in his first professional press conference said, “I just wanted a place where I can go and compete."
I think you are in the right place, Robert.