The Miami Dolphins are 1-4 and playing arguably the worst football in the NFL. The way Mike Tomlin talks about them, though, you would swear that Dan Marino is still under center.
"They (Miami) have a dominant front littered with top-pedigree talent," Tomlin told reporters on Tuesday during his weekly press conference.
Pretty statement hyperbolic for a 1-4 team. Here are some more interesting tidbits from Tomlin's press conference:
Tomlin on Miami's offensive line (which has allowed 39 quarterback hits and 17 sacks; second-most in the league in both categories):"They are a talented group. We will have our work cut out for us there"
Tomlin on Miami's backfield (which ranks 28th in the league in rushing): "They have tremendous depth."
Tomlin on Ryan Tannehill (who at this point in his career wouldn't make Cleveland's practice squad): "He is a talented guy, one who we have seen in the past, who has created big problems for us. His long ball is an issue. His mobility is an issue."
If coaching doesn't work out, at least we have learned that Pittsburgh's head man could certainly carve out a career in public relations and copy writing. Here are some more things we learned from Tomlin's press conference:
Seriously, the Dolphins do have some good players
Despite Miami's struggles, the Dolphins do have a few players who have been legitimately impressive this season, including WR Jarvis Landry ("A Pro Bowl caliber guy; I have a lot of respect for his talent," per Tomlin), S Reshad Jones ("Very talented and consistent performer") and DT Ndamukong Suh ("reminds me of [Bengals Pro Bowl DT] Geno Atkins").
Landry will likely be Pittsburgh's biggest headache, as the 2015 Pro Bowler is on pace for 108 receptions after posting 110 last season. If left unchecked, Landry's ability to exploit pockets in zone coverages should enable the Dolphins to move the ball with relative ease.
Ross Cockrell might be Pittsburgh's best defensive back
This isn't much of an honor, but, hey, at least its something.
After getting abused by Brandon Marshall in the first half of Pittsburgh's 31-13 victory over the Jets in Week 5, Cockrell, whether through sheer will or the assistance of a schematic adjustment, held the All-Pro receiver to just two catches for 31 yards in the second half. Cockrell has been similarly successful against other top-flight targets, including Bengals WR A.J. Green, who currently ranks 2nd in the NFL in receptions and yards.
"If you watch Ross work on a day-to-day basis, you aren't surprised by the progress," Tomlin said. "He has that level of commitment to preparation and growing as a player."
Tomlin has a plan in place to replace Cameron Heyward's on-field talents and leadership
Cameron Heyward is - forgive the cliche - the heart and soul of Pittsburgh's defense. Unfortunately, a hamstring injury will keep Heyward on the sidelines in Week 6. So, how do you replace the team's leading sack artist? Pretty easily, apparently.
"We've got a mix of guys that is going to be determined by situations and circumstances," Tomlin said in regards to Heyward's absence.
The mix that Tomlin has in mind will almost certainly be primarily composed of veteran DE Ricardo Mathews and rookie DT Javon Hargrave.
"Sunday was [Hargrave's] best performance, and it's reasonable to anticipate that's going to continue," Tomlin said.
Hargrave played a season-high 32 snaps and collected a pair of tackles against the Jets in Week 6.
The leadership element, however, will fall squarely on the shoulders of veteran CB William Gay, according to Tomlin. However, Vince Williams, who is currently starting in place of the injured LB Ryan Shazier, has quickly distinguished himself as a capable leader in the middle of Pittsburgh's defense. He plays with high energy and has set the tone for Pittsburgh's defense during its two-game hot streak.
No, Ryan Shazier is never moving to safety
If 100 Steelers fans read this, I would be willing to bet that at least 25 or 30 sit firmly on the "move Ryan Shazier to safety" side of the fence. Don't hold your breath.
Tomlin offered a simple "no" when asked about the possibility of Shazier switching positions and further elaborated by stating that the media is welcome to continue speculating about a position change for Shazier down the road.
I've never really understood the reasoning behind switching Shazier's position. If anything, it seems like most teams would be more interested in converting a safety into a linebacker, such as what the Cardinals did with Deon Bucannon, who was a defensive back at the University of Washington. Who knows, maybe a switch to linebacker could've bought Troy Polamalu an extra few years. Shazier is the new prototype for middle linebackers, so he isn't going anywhere.