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Ask the Expert: Armando Salguero

Posted Sep 17, 2013

Falcons vice president of football communications Reggie Roberts speaks with Miami Herald columnist Armando Salguero about the happenings around the league in Week 3

Reggie Roberts:  The Dolphins are off to a blazing start in that they have won their first two games to begin the regular season for the first time since winning back-to-back road games to start the 2010 season.  Give us your take on why the club is off to such a fast start.

Armando Salguero:  The simple answer is the Dolphins are more talented this year. They've upgraded throughout the roster with the additions of WR Mike Wallace, LB Dannell Ellerbe, LB Phillip Wheeler and CB Brent Grimes, who is familiar to Atlanta fans. All those players have already contributed to the Dolphins' two victories and atop that the Dolphins are getting better play from quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who was a rookie last year and played like it but has so far shown great progress in his play. The team isn't beating itself as evidenced by the fact it didn't have a penalty against Indianapolis a week ago. And coach Joe Philbin has established a culture of hard work.

RR:  Defensively, Miami’s nine sacks in two games tie for the NFL lead.  Can you give us a sense of how well the Dolphins front four led by two-time Pro Bowl DE Cameron Wake is playing through two games?

AS:  For a few years now, the Dolphins have believed their defensive line is one of their team strengths and that continues so far this year. They have good talent starting with DE Cameron Wake, who is arguably among the best players in the NFL, and it continues through a unit that is deep, big and quick. The Dolphins invested their first round pick this year on DE Dion Jordan and while he is still working to make a big impact, he is part of what defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle calls a "Speed" package that includes Wake, Jordan, and DE Olivier Vernon, another defensive end. Sometimes Wake stands up. Sometimes Jordan stands up. Sometimes they rush. Sometimes they drop into coverage. So with all the athletic gifts they bring to the table, add unorthodox strategy to the mix.

RR:   The Falcons raced to a 24-3 advantage in their home opener against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday and hung on for a 31-24 win.  What kind of game are you expecting between Atlanta and Miami on Sunday?

AS:  The Falcons have proven they are an elite team in recent years by making the playoffs, winning playoff games and even going to the NFC Championship game a year ago. The Dolphins believe they're a team to be reckoned with now with their infusion of talent and while they're still young and improving, they don't think they're overmatched by anyone. That wasn't always the case in recent years. So I expect a good game of punch and counter-punch. I expect both teams will make plays on offense and defense. I expect a close game.

RR:   Two former Falcons – T Tyson Clabo and CB Brent Grimes – are now members of the Dolphins.  Walk us through the impact each player has had at his position for Miami.

AS:  Well, Grimes is one of those new playmakers the Dolphins have added that I mentioned earlier. He is freakishly athletic, he is never a problem of any type. He is without question the best cornerback the Dolphins have had since the years when they had CB Sam Madison and CB Patrick Surtain and that's saying something because both those former players were recently among the first set players nominated for consideration to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. As for Clabo, he was a need signing late in the offseason. He fills a major need because, frankly, the Dolphins had no answer at right tackle when Clabo was signed. He's been solid. Yes, he's struggled at times and last week he yielded a couple of hits on quarterback QB Ryan Tannehill, but he knows all the tricks, he works hard and he's fit in well.

RR:  Let’s switch to some the key news taking place around the NFL.  Is it time for the fans in our nation’s capital to press the panic button now that the Washington Redskins are off to an 0-2 start?

AS:  Didn't they press the panic button when the Redskins lost the opener and QB Robert Griffin III played like a young player coming off a knee injury who hadn't practiced or played in the preseason? I kid. The Redskins have issues right now. RG3 is clearly rusty. The running game isn't plowing opponents as it did most of last year and the defense has given up points in bunches. It hasn't helped, by the way, that Washington faced QB Michael Vick and QB Aaron Rodgers the first two weeks of the season. That's a tough assignment.

RR:  Much has been written about Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense in Philadelphia that scored 33 points in a season-opening win against Washington last week and 30 on Sunday in a road loss at San Diego.  Can that offense maintain that torrid pace or is it just a matter of time before NFL defensive coordinators figure out how to slow the Eagles down?

AS:  I'm a believer in talent. I believe in playmakers. Teams with more talent and playmakers win. Teams with less talent and fewer playmakers find a way to lose. The Eagles offense has a ton of playmakers. Vick is elite when he's on.  LeSean McCoy is one of the league's best and most versatile running backs.  DeSean Jackson is a blur and excellent receiver despite his size. And they've cleaned up their offensive line. But… as they don't have quite the same amount of talent on defense, that unit is having its problems. Simple, right? You draft better than other teams, you sign better free agents than other teams, you make good trade (a la TE Tony Gonzalez for the Falcons) and you can run the Winged-T and still win.

RR:   And finally, give us your take on Ryan Tannehill’s development in that he is hitting 65.3 percent of his passes and has a solid 94.2 QB rating after two games.

AS:  The assignment for Tannehill this year is to make a jump from his rookie year. The Dolphins expect him to be the most improved quarterback in the NFL this year. That's not my words, that's what offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said would happen. What does that mean? It means Tannehill, a second-year player, is still a work in progress. It says he's not complete yet. It means there are things such as his deep accuracy and making quicker reads that need to get better. But it also says the Dolphins have confidence he has the talent, smarts, and the desire to make that big jump. So far, so good.


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