How has WR Tyler Boyd progressed from the end of last season to where he is this season?
"He's done a great job. It shows with the production he's had so far this year. He's a guy who's playing with a ton of confidence. He's trusting in what he does out at practice, trusting in the coaching he's gotten, and it's paying off. He's got a great understanding of what we're doing, and it's showing on the field."
How is he doing what he does as a receiver better now compared to last year?
"The more he plays and the more experience (he gets), he's really seeing it easily. He's done a great job of winning in man coverage and finding zones (in the defenses coverage). He's just playing at a high level now."
On the final game winning drive against Atlanta, you had a strong connection with Boyd. Were you looking to target him so much because of the matchup that he had?
"It wasn't like, 'I'm only going to throw it to TB (Tyler Boyd).' But, it ended up being that way. He kept winning and getting open. He made so many big plays in that last drive that helped us get down there to win it."
Can you describe your confidence level in this offense right now?
"We feel good. We still haven't played a perfect game. We feel good about what we've done so far. We have to keep playing the way we have been and keep the confidence level high, because we've shown we can do it. We just have to keep it going."
Does this team and this offense compare at all to the team in 2015?
"It's hard to say, 'This is how 2015 was.' Obviously that was a really good year for us. There are a lot of new people and new things happening. It's a different offense. I guess the feel of where we're at (does compare) — we were 4-0 at this point in '15 and (this year) we're 3-1. Two good starts, but it's hard to compare the two."
TE Mason Scheck's offensive role will increase with the absence of Tyler Eifert. What do you expect out of him, and what kind of player is he?
"He's shown that he knows what's going on out there. He hasn't played a ton in games after missing last year (injury). He showed a lot in the preseason. We're going to expect him to play at a high level with Tyler going down. With our ability to use three tight ends on different things, we expect him to fit right in."
What is the reason the team has been able to finish and close out games this season, in contrast to previous seasons?
"There's not one thing. It's a new year. You're not worried about what has gone on before. We're just doing whatever you can to win. That's the approach we took. This past week when we got the ball (final drive), I felt like nobody flinched, and nobody thought we weren't going to win. Everybody had that confidence that we were going to get it done. When you can play that way, I feel more times than not you're going to be able to do that."
Do you think about and make an effort to be a calming influence to your teammates in those pressure situations?
"Yeah. I feel like I'm pretty relaxed out there. I try to make sure that if it gets tight to tell everybody, 'Calm down its going to be alright.' There's definitely a sense of that out there. It's kind of my personality but also a conscience effort to make sure that's the atmosphere we have out there."
Do you notice yourself having to calm the coaches as well?
"Absolutely (laughs). It's one of those things where it's not just players, it's the coaches to. Everybody is involved. I try to do my part."
How has the sideline communication been between you and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor?
"He's done a great job calling plays. The relationship that we've built since the time he's been here carries into being able to be calm out there and relaxed. It's a great way to play, and it's a great to have that relationship with the quarterback and coordinator. You can talk about things you want to do in crucial situations."
Since Lazor has taken over as coordinator, you have some of the top passing statistics in the league. What has his influence been on you to play your best?
"He's done a great job of explaining exactly why we're calling what we're calling and what he wants done with each play, and he allows me to play fast. That's the biggest thing, with the way he creates the offense, is to make sure you have an answer for everything. For me when I'm out there, I know exactly what we're trying to do, why he's calling what he's calling, and (how to) get it to the best matchup we have out there."
Does Lazor keep the offense simple and not give players an 'information overload?'
"There's a reason why we do what we do, and we know that."
Were you curious this offseason if this new offense would work as well as it has?
"For me, it was how quickly it would become second nature. There are still times I think back in to the other system. But it's basically become second nature for me now. That was the big thing, not if it was going to work. It was more of (how) I'm going to pick it up as quickly and know it as quickly as I knew the last one."
With players that have been in the previous system, are there still times where guys refer to plays or concepts to what they were in the old offensive system?
"A little bit. But I think we're past that point. Now that the season is going, I think we're past the point of thinking in the old system."
Do you pay attention to the massive passing numbers across the league?
"A little bit. Obviously I've seen it. There's been a lot of scoring that's gone on. Offenses have been playing really well, so I've definitely seen it."
Do you think that's a product of anything, or is there an explanation for the high offensive production?
"I think I know what you're trying to get at (laughs). I don't think that's the reason. I think offenses are just playing well."
How big is it to get HB Joe Mixon back this week?
"It's great to have Joe back. Like I said, Gio (Giovani Bernard) has done a great job and Mark (Walton) filled in and has done well. But Joe, he's a guy that, just from a talent standpoint, you know what he is. He brings a lot of energy. That's good for everybody, and we're glad to have him back."
What has having his energy been like on the sideline the last two weeks?
"You see it. If you see pictures from after the game, I think he was in every single one of them (laughs). He found a way in the end zone, and he found a way everywhere on the sideline. I'm surprised he didn't try to go out on the field during the game. I think it's just how he is, and it's good to have a guy like that."
How much energy does he infuse into this team on the field?
"He brings a lot. It's contagious and it rubs off on everybody. It's good to have Joe out there."
What do you see on tape of what the Miami Dolphins do defensively?
"They're sound in what they do. They've done a good job, and they've been able to create turnovers. That's one thing you see that shows up on tape. They've been able to take advantage of that. We have to be on our game this week."
Initial comments …
"The Dolphins have been playing really well, and have been taking advantage of opportunities during their great start. They've created turnovers, which the offense has taken advantage of. The offense has been explosive with big plays throughout their games this season. We'll have to do a great job being sound in everything we do. They have great team speed, which is evident in all three phases when you watch the tape. They play to the skill sets of their players, and they've done a nice job with that."
Can you believe you're still preparing for Dolphins RB Frank Gore?
"Well with him being over in San Francisco for the first two-thirds of his career, we didn't really have to (prepare for him). He's just an amazing story, from the injury he suffered in college all the way through today. I've never had the pleasure of coaching Frank, but from what everyone says who's been around him, his character is tremendous. It speaks to his longevity to play that position and to play it at the level he has."
Dolphins DE Cameron Wake, at 36 years old, is another one who has been around a while. There aren't a lot of those guys around …
"Yeah. Since he came into the league, he's continued to play and be productive. Obviously he's somebody who must take care of himself. ... He has to, in order to play defensive end the way he's played it, and to still be out there being productive with what he's doing."
Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill has gotten off to a good start this season. What impresses you about him?
"Ryan has worked to come back from the (ACL) injury (he suffered last season). With his unique athleticism and his ability to throw the football, they're going to do things to push the ball down the field vertically. We have to understand that. He's a good pocket passer and can pass on the move. We have to understand that they do a lot of things off their play-actions and run-actions. We're going to have to play really sound and have great leverage."
There's no one more qualified to talk about an NFL linebacker than you. What makes LB Vontaze Burfict special?
Can you compare him to anyone you've coached previously?
"I'm not very good at making comparisons, so let's not."
How rare are the things that he does?
"It's very common in the best linebackers who've played the game. They all have that suddenness and lower body (strength). It's not necessarily about foot speed, but it's about their ability to be sudden on their keys. Their eyes have to work correctly, with their keys and their reads, the suddenness that they come with and the way their hips can explode. The Dolphins have a couple of guys like that. Kiko (Alonso) plays that way, and I thought Raekwon (McMillan) had those characteristics at Ohio State. That's something Preston (Brown) has also done well with. It's impressive."
Is it a combination of Burfict's suddenness and quickness, or is it combination of his physical ability and how he sees things so fast?
"He understands it and sees it. He has the ability to bend his knees and go. He watched it all already from 20 minutes of walk-through."
How does he seem coming back to the team?
"He's excited to be back playing football. He will give us a lift of energy, excitement and detail."
In the past, it's been a surprise whenever he comes back that first game. Instead of playing only so many snaps, he ends up playing nearly the entire game …
"I should bring you down and use you to take him off the field (laughs). As I said on Monday, we'll see and go from there. We'll see how things go this week and where he is in his ability to absorb the game plan and apply it for the Dolphins."
Is he physically ready to play? Will that ankle injury from the summer hold him back at all?
"It'll be a good 'We'll see' (laughs). I wish I could tell you, but we'll see because being here, he's probably been very compliant of everything he's supposed to do. I'm sure he checked those boxes off by taking care of his therapy and everything else that was set up for him."
Since you aren't allowed to contact players who are suspended, is there any way you can actually check to make sure they are following their regiment?
"They're allowed to get medical rehab outside of here."
Did you feel happy from what you saw as far as the shape he was in when you watched him play today?
"When he came up from behind and picked me up off the floor on Monday, I knew it could only be one person. I guess it's time to wrestle with the bear again (laughs)."
Are weeks more adventurous when he is here?
"My job gets more fun (laughs)."
What intangibles does he give you?
"Paul Guenther coached him (since his rookie season in 2012). When he (Guenther) became the defensive coordinator, he became an extension of Paul out on the field. He doesn't have that relationship right now with Teryl (Bengals defensive coordinator Teryl Austin), so he has to develop that. I think Preston and Hardy (Nickerson) do have that relationship, because Teryl has been working with them for six or seven weeks. That's the unique thing that's come about in the NFL over the last few years, with the adoption of the communication stuff for the defense."
Have you ever had two linebackers over 250 pounds potentially on the field at the same time?
"I don't think so, I can't remember. I guess Levon Kirkland and Chad Brown were probably that big. Levon wasn't as big as he ended up, but when I had him he was probably around 250 pounds, and Chad was close to 250. But we were in a 3-4 scheme, so it was a little different. I don't know if Chad ever made 250. I know Kevin (Greene) and Greg Lloyd, the other two starters, weren't close to that. They (Preston Brown and Vontaze Burfict) are two big human beings, two cinder blocks."
Are you anxious to see them both on the field?
"If everyone will cooperate with us (laughs)."
What's the injury forecast on HB Joe Mixon?
"Forecast? The sun is up. It's a nice, bright sunny day out there (laughs)."
Is it a beautiful sunrise?
"It's a good sunrise. Joe's worked hard, so you have to give him credit."