Q. Anything with K Jake Elliott’s miss, was it one of those things or something more to it? (Jeff McLane)
MICHAEL CLAY: No. Football. Just deep plant leg, and he just cut it and it took off at the last second on him on the right. I’m sure nobody is more shocked than he was. You could see his reaction. Went straight with the hands on the knees looking down.
But hey, it’s football. Even the greatest of all time, they are going to miss a shot and even the greatest kickers of all time are going to miss a kick. Jake’s been outstanding thus far, and nobody is more disappointed than himself, and it’s our job to keep him positive more than anything else. He’s going to get it correct.
I have no worries in Jake or our operation. They have been doing an outstanding job all year. It’s just life. Sometimes it doesn’t go your way, and unfortunately it happened at that time.
If we had another opportunity to go back out there, we would have had full confidence Jake could have hit a game-winner in that situation. But we’ll go back. He’s raring to go tomorrow. Get more kicks in. Not too worried about that.
Q. Are you getting the consistency that you want from your new punter? (Reuben Frank)
MICHAEL CLAY: Yeah. It’s always nice when the offense is kind of moving the ball as much and you shorten the field really.
So, a lot of times when guys see numbers or anything or people see numbers, they are kind of skewed; and where is your field position and where is it happening.
I think [P] Braden [Mann], we got that penalty on the punt that we moved up a little bit more. Then he placed the ball at the 7-yard line and gave our defense a long field to cover.
So again, it’s one of those things. We are finally getting used to Braden and getting more familiar with him, what he likes on game days; and talking with him to get him more comfortable as we keep going.
But Braden has been doing a really good job. And just like everybody in this room or in this building, nobody is a bigger critic than themselves. He wants to do what’s best for the team, whether it’s holding or whether it’s punting. We are going to keep working with Braden. He’s been doing a good job for us thus far. Doing a lot of pinning inside the 20, giving our defense — they do a really good job on our defense, a long field to cover.
Q. Speaking of the penalty, what are the coaching points there? (Dave Zangaro)
MICHAEL CLAY: For [CB] Kelee [Ringo], it’s one of the things where it’s a bang-bang play but there is a way, when you see a veteran returner like [New York Jets Wide Receiver] Randall Cobb who earlier in his career was a punt returner, and now on a shorter punt as a gunner, you’re running, and it’s tough. Kelee had the single, beat the single. The stack player came out, and he did a really good job of kind of undercutting the stack player and he’s running so fast.
But he has to just keep an eye on that returner. On a short punt, especially no fair catch, what that returner I think in my eyes is trying to do is bait that fair catch interference. And it’s one of those things where Kelee or any other gunner, whether it’s [S] Sydney [Brown] or whether it’s [CB] Josh Jobe or [CB] Eli [Ricks] or anybody out there, you see a returner run towards you at that speed, you have got to kind of slowdown and allow the vice guy kind of to come back. And then you could put your hands on and run him into the returner.
Very similar to what the Chargers did last night against Turp [Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver KaVontae Turpin]. It was a short kick he ran up, and that gunner stopped, ran the guy into the returner. You’re at no fault right there.
So, it’s one of those learning experiences for Kelee. His sixth game, he gets that opportunity. And he’s doing a really good job for us in all phases. It’s just a learning experience and I feel good if that does come up again, he’ll put on the brakes, let that vice guy get in front of him and possibly dump him into the returner.
Q. What stands out to you about the Dolphins Special teams? (Zach Berman)
MICHAEL CLAY: [Miami Dolphins Wide Receiver] Braxton Berrios, he was an All-Pro returner a couple years ago with the Jets. They do a really good job. [Miami Dolphins Special Teams Coordinator] Danny [Crossman] has been doing this for a long time. He’s a good special teams coordinator and gets the best out of his units.
Any time you play an NFL team, you have to be ready for anything. A few years ago, I think from ’19 to ’21, he ran seven to eight fakes. So, we have to be ready for that. We have to be ready for anything to give them an opportunity.
We know how explosive they are on offense and defense and special teams. So, Danny has a really good unit. We have to be able to come out here tomorrow, practice really well and get ready for another opponent. Because nothing is easy in the NFL. It’s hard to win.
So, we just got to be ready to match their energy, give our offense and defense long field, short field and contribute any way we can.
Q. In the two games WR Devon Allen has been up, you’ve used him differently than any other wide receiver on the roster on special teams, what is it about his skill set that you like as a core special teamer? (Zach Berman)
MICHAEL CLAY: You can’t teach speed and he brings a different speed that allows him to put stress on the other team.
Obviously, you guys saw in the preseason as a gunner he made that play on a vice right there, using him the same way, he did a heck of a job on that plus 50.
With Braden he got down there, and he got squared up and able to make a play inside the ten-yard line. He did a really good job for us, the couple of injuries that hurt — hen Eli Ricks went down, Devon getting him ready and training him up to go on the front line right there, and he didn’t bat on eye. And he was ready to do whatever we asked him to do.
And it was really kudos to Devon throughout the week getting ready to be possibly called up and not batting an eye when the bright lights hit.
So, with all these guys in here, they prepare like their name is going to get called next, and just like anything in the NFL everybody has to deal with it and we have to make sure we prepare everybody, myself and [Assistant Special Teams Coordinator] Joe [Pannunzio] and [Special Teams Assistant] Tyler [Brown], for those opportunities.
Q. WR Britain Covey averaged three yards per return, which is his second lowest average this season. What was at the root of that? (Olivia Reiner)
MICHAEL CLAY: Yeah, kudos, [New York Jets Punter] Thomas Morstead, you’re not a punter for 15 years without being really good at his job, and Thomas did a really good job pinning us on that first one.
We just have to do a better job from the interior and exterior, kind of slowing down their gunners. 19 made a heck of a play on that first punt.
And it’s just a little technical thing with Josh Jobe and his footwork, to slow him down and give him a half-second more to allow Britain to get downhill. It’s one of those things myself, I have to be better getting these guys prepared throughout the week to allow Britain to exploit what he does really good and that’s our punt return unit.
So, the three yards is definitely below our standard, especially what we have been doing early on in the season. But it’s something we can all get corrected. We corrected it yesterday as a team and all these guys are fired up.
I just have to do a better job game planning, ‘hey, this is what we’ve got to do to get Britain going.’ It’s one of those things. I’ll meet with Covey and talk about our game plan tomorrow so he feels as comfortable as possible.
It’s tough sledding out there one-on-one, but we have full confidence that [CB] Kelee [Ringo] and Josh out there one-on-one can handle the gunner. Just one of those things where they got us. [It’s the] NFL. I’m sure other teams have said, ‘they got us, and we got them’ and we have to come back tomorrow and be able to help this team out anyway we can.
Q. What’s your best Miami Dolphins Head Coach Mike McDaniel story? (Zach Berman)
MICHAEL CLAY: Mike is awesome. In San Francisco, I would think I would be one of the first guys in there to at least work out, and his office was next to Hightower’s office. And I would always walk by and he was always in there and this was like 4:30 in the morning. Like what is Mike McD doing in there? He’s a grinding guy.
He actually helped me a lot just understanding protections, being the run game coordinator in San Francisco, he understood a lot about protection. So, I would ask him from a punt rush standpoint, what are you trying to exploit.
He always had, if the French Open was playing, he would always have some sort of “Clay” court remark for me just off my last name. He’s a very, very smart guy and he has actually kind of a dry humor but if you catch his humor, it’s actually really good.
Best memory? We went to a Common concert together and it was outstanding. It was outstanding.
McDaniel is doing an unbelievable job in Miami but one of those guys I leaned on just to learn as much as I possibly could for him.
Q. You mentioned getting used to P Braden Mann as a punter. What elements do you have to get used to? (Dave Zangaro)
MICHAEL CLAY: You just have to get used to the human element. You just can’t talk to anybody the same way. What he feels comfortable in game, how does he like — the communication part, where is he at, is he in the net and everything like that.
And then throughout the week what does he like? Does he want to focus on something, moving the field up and down; does he want to focus on a fringe punt, where are you in between hitting it end-over-end punt, or are you going to hit a spiral. Just go getting used to that.
The last two and a half weeks, being around him, I’ve gotten more comfortable with him talking to him and those situations and you can almost tell he feels a lot more comfortable with us because everyone has their guard up when you meet someone new.
So it comes down to being able to joke and laugh throughout the week and try to keep the nerves as low as possible going throughout the game.
But like I said, Braden has been doing a good job for us, and we would like to see him continue to grow.