Posts Tagged ‘Chris Chambers’

Q&A: Former Dolphins QB Jay Fiedler

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Jay Fiedler - MetLife Takeover

By the time Jay Fiedler hung up his cleats – six years after unenviably following in franchise icon Dan Marino’s massive footsteps – only Marino and Bob Griese had won more games, thrown for more yards or tossed as many touchdown passes in Dolphins history.

For an undrafted free agent who’d been cut by two NFL teams in the span of a month, served as a volunteer assistant coach at Hofstra University and suited up for the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe – all before attempting his first official NFL pass with the Vikings in 1998 – seeing his name among the all-time greats remains especially humbling.

“To be in the company of those two Hall of Fame names – to have the longevity of being the starting quarterback for the Dolphins for five years – means a lot to me,” says Fiedler. “Certainly, the road that it took me to become a starting quarterback made it even sweeter. Every time you get a chance to overcome challenges and come out on top at the end, it’s a heck of a lot more rewarding than being given that job.”

Ironically, the lopsided score of Marino’s final NFL game presented an opportunity for the then-Jaguars second-stringer to showcase he was ready for a starting role – and as it turned out, No. 13’s eventual replacement.

“I didn’t realize it at the time, but I think it was definitely an audition for Miami,” recalls Fiedler, who completed 7 of 11 passes for a game-high 172 yards and two scores in a relief appearance on Jan. 15, 2000. “I think the thing that certainly helped me sign with Miami that following year was the fact that I not only came in that game and played well, but that I started the last regular-season game for Jacksonville. The Dolphins didn’t know who was going to start the game that week – we kind of kept it hush-hush whether (Mark) Brunell was going to come back or not – so it forced the Dolphins to scout me … and really opened up the eyes of the scouting department and the personnel.”

After helping guide the Dolphins to the AFC East division title in his first season in South Florida, the Dartmouth alum – who amassed a 36-23 record along with 11,040 passing yards and 66 touchdowns in aqua and orange – submitted his best year in 2001, notching 20 TDs (10th in the NFL), 3,290 passing yards (14th) and 7.3 yards per pass attempt (sixth) en route to leading Miami to a second consecutive 11-5 finish and playoff appearance.

In a recent phone interview, Fiedler reflected on his long road to NFL stardom, the challenges of succeeding Marino, Ryan Tannehill’s development and much more.

As a multi-sport athlete growing up, what ultimately led you to pursue a football career?

“I did every sport imaginable growing up. I remember when I was six or seven years old, I was into soccer, football, baseball, basketball, track and field – you name it. I did three sports in high school – football, basketball and track and field – and then football and track and field in college. Of course, being a multi-sport guy, I ended up doing the decathlon in track and field.

“I spent two years doing both at Dartmouth, and eventually, the idea of putting weight on for football and taking it off for track and field, (plus) the grueling non-stop competition, became too much. I’ve always loved football, I had some great success in Dartmouth my first couple of years, and I decided that was what I was going to keep pursuing.”

Which players did you admire growing up and model your own game after?

“My favorite quarterback growing up was probably John Elway. He was a guy who I tried to model my game after – just his versatility, his escapability out of situations. Although I couldn’t get up quite to his arm strength, I felt like I was able to do a lot of things out on the football field just like he was able to do.”

As an undrafted free agent, what were the keys to landing your first NFL contract with the Eagles?

“As an undrafted free agent, it was really just a matter of making the team. I had about four or five teams that offered me contracts right after the draft ended. I decided on going to Philadelphia because of two factors. One, Rich Kotite was the coach there, and he convinced me that he was going to give me a shot to really compete for the job and to make the team. And two, at the time they weren’t so set on their three quarterbacks. So, it looked like an opportunity for me to have a chance to make the team and to move my way up the depth chart as things went along.”

After being cut twice and out of the NFL for nearly two years, what did it take to make it back to the pros?

“That was probably the most difficult time in my career. Getting cut by the Eagles, it was really a situation of coaching and ownership changes – they were just going in a new direction, where they were kind of cleaning house. By the time they actually cut me, it was already a couple of weeks into training camp, so even though I got picked up by Cincinnati, I only had a very short window to try and prove myself. I was actually the fifth (quarterback) on the roster out there, so it was an uphill battle.

“I found myself out of the game for the first time in my life. It was a frustrating time, but I also knew from playing for two years, seeing how guys practiced and seeing the games up close, that I was talented enough to make it. I didn’t let it discourage me and I didn’t give up on the game.”

How did you train and what did you focus on during that time?

“I decided to keep myself as close to the game as possible. I went home and became a volunteer coach at Hofstra University. I’d known a couple of the coaches over there, and they gave me an opportunity to use the weight room and work out with the team. I’d go out, throw to wide receivers and keep my arm loose. It helped me stay sharp and stay in the game.

“Then, I ended up going out to Europe for a season, and played in NFL Europe at Amsterdam. I was teammates with (current Chargers Head Coach) Mike McCoy at the time, and I saw all the way back then that he would be a coach. Even though I didn’t get an (NFL) opportunity again coming into (next) season, it kept me focused and kept my mind on the game.

“Finally, after another year of coaching at Hofstra, it took one last-ditch effort to get back into the league. I got together with my agent and my high school coach – who was a big mentor of mine throughout my career – and we came up with a game plan to put a package together, send it out to every single team and start calling up every quarterback coach, offensive coordinator and head coach. We got one response from Minnesota, and that’s all I needed. Chip Myers was the quarterback coach, and he gave me an opportunity to try out for the Vikings. I went out there, they signed me, and from that point forward, I just kept climbing the ranks until two years later, I was the starting quarterback in Miami.”

In addition to Chip Myers, which other coaches helped prepare you for a starting role?

“All the coaching I got was the biggest thing from playing on all those different teams. I played under Jon Gruden as a coordinator and quarterback coach in Philadelphia. In Minnesota, Brian Billick was the offensive coordinator. Down in Jacksonville, Tom Coughlin was the head coach and really ran the offense, and Bobby Petrino was the quarterback coach. I was able to pick the brains of each of them and mold their teaching to what I felt comfortable with and what I was able to do physically on the football field.”

How would you describe following in Marino’s footsteps as the Dolphins starter?

“I never looked it as a challenge to replace Marino. I had success every time I played – from high school, college and during the times that I was able to get into games in the pros prior to that. I did it my way. I wasn’t going to come in there and do it the way Marino did it. There are a lot of ways to win games – that’s really the way that I looked at the position.

“Certainly, there were challenges just from an off-the-field standpoint – having to deal with media and fan scrutiny as the next guy after Marino – but I always felt like I had thick skin and never let outside distractions or influences change the way that I approached the game. In that respect, just from a mental and psychological standpoint, I was the perfect guy to come in and do that.” (more…)

Q&A: Dolphins Legend Chris Chambers

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Chris Chambers Web Weekend XI
Standing inside the same auditorium where his former coaches delivered passionate pregame speeches and reviewed game film with the team – Joe Philbin’s mantras and principles, as well as framed photos of the organization’s two Super Bowl-winning squads gracing the walls around him – former Miami Dolphins wide receiver Chris Chambers addressed dozens of fan-site moderators gathered for Web Weekend XI.

Joined by fellow team icon A.J. Duhe and Finsiders host Greg Likens, Chambers – decked in a black windbreaker jacket and matching thick-rimmed glasses – was candid and reflective, touching on everything from being caught off-guard when he was traded to San Diego midway through the 2007 season to earning a Pro Bowl selection during Nick Saban’s lone tumultuous year in South Florida.

After presenting DolfansNYC with two of our extremely humbling three Webby Awards and obliging every photo- and autograph-seeker following the ceremony, No. 84 graciously took time out to look back on his career highlights, express his appreciation for Dolphins fans on the road and much more in a one-on-one interview.

Looking back on your six-and-a-half-year Dolphins tenure, what were some of your favorite memories?

“There are so many moments. The Dallas Cowboys game (on Nov. 27, 2003), being able to score three touchdowns. Jay Fiedler and I both got the Turkey Award there, (but) I gave it to him though because he was the older guy. Now, I (tell him), ‘I want my award back!’ It was cool at the time.

“My first touchdown against Indianapolis (on Nov. 11, 2001), Jay threw a beautiful ball to me, and I caught it, 60 yards (downfield). I ended up getting my second touchdown in the same game.

“And then the Buffalo Bills game (on Dec. 4, 2005), where I set the Dolphins record for receiving yards and catches. That was a game that was very bleak at halftime, and then enter Sage Rosenfels, and it was bombs away!

“Those games have been outstanding, and I can’t wait to continue to look back and watch some of those games, and show my son and some of his peers what his dad did when he was on the field.”

That was an incredible Dolphins comeback against Buffalo. Do your franchise records still stand?

“Brian Hartline broke (the receiving yards record), actually (on Oct. 30, 2012), and I was kind of crying a little bit. [Laughs] But he’s a good receiver, and I don’t see anyone touching that for quite some time. We’ll see how (long the record stands).”

You caught passes from 10 different quarterbacks in Miami. What kind of impact did the ‘quarterback carousel,’ as you’ve called it, have on your game?

“You know, you kind of got used to it after a while. We never had that one guy who was the quarterback here – (whom) you started with here, continued to play with and grew with. That’s what made it difficult, when you’d have to have a different guy (frequently). I remember us having a left-handed guy, then we had another righty, and then a guy who was a little more mobile.

“I called it a lot of guys on (ends) of their careers, like Daunte Culpepper, who wasn’t healthy. Gus Frerotte – he had gray hairs, for God’s sake! Guys like that, they went out there and did what they did, and I had some good seasons, but once I got with a more stable quarterback (with the Chargers), that’s when I was able to take off a little bit.”

Who were some players you admired growing up and modeled your own game after?

“Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, I was a huge Ohio State fan, so, Terry Glenn and Joey Galloway (were my role models). If you see a lot of my plays, you see me diving and stuff, I got that from Terry Glenn.

“I was a die-hard Cleveland Browns fan, with Webster Slaughter, Eric Metcalf and those guys. They were really good – they had Bernie Kosar and The Dawg Pound – and that’s what really ignited me as a youngster to play football. To be able to have that (experience) and know that today, kids really look up to us, it really is something special.”

When you first entered the NFL, were there any veterans who took you in and served as role models?

“Absolutely – Sam Madison, Terrell Buckley, James McKnight, who was already a receiver here. He was one guy I really looked up to (because) he was a really good route runner, a very positive guy, a very clean guy.

“I just kind of jumped in, and once the guys saw my athletic ability on the first day of camp, guys received me even though I was kind of there to, at some point, take their jobs. They did an excellent job of supporting me and showing me the ropes.”

You recently had a chance to serve on the Dolphins coaching staff during training camp and help some of the younger players. How much did you enjoy that experience?

“I was an intern, so I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t know if I was going to be stapling papers or whatever, but when I went in there, I knew a lot about this offense already, because a lot of plays that Norv (Turner) ran were similar to Bill Lazor’s. We were all on board and they really respected my knowledge. Every time I spoke in the receiving room, the guys paid attention to me.”

Do you plan to pursue a full-time coaching gig in the future?

“It’s just something that I wanted to do. I don’t know if I’m ever going to become a full-time coach, but I love the flexibility to come out here and help the guys, and see the guys go on their way. It really brought me closer to this organization again, because I didn’t know anybody but the snapper, (John Denney). He was the only guy who was here when I was here. Now that I know some of the players’ faces, had some conversations with them, it meant the world to me, and I think the Dolphins should continue to do that with some of their former players.”

Finally, DolfansNYC will have as many as 1,000 fans cheering on the team when the Dolphins visit the Jets at MetLife Stadium on Dec. 1. As a player, how did it feel when you’d walk into opposing stadiums and see aqua and orange in the stands?

“It felt so good! I think we have some of the best fans in the NFL – we always have. To come to New York – when you have your Fire Marshall on one side and have (Dolphins fans) rooting – it was just an outstanding feeling. Knowing you can come into a stadium and you see Dolphins tents and you see Dolphins tailgates, for the home team, it’s kind of intimidating, and it lets you know that the support is huge.

“I just want the Dolphins fans to continue to support us. I think we’ll have a very good team this year and (fans) will be able to get behind us.”

For more Chris Chambers check out his non-profit foundation Catch 84 and his South Florida training facility The Chamber.

2014 Web Weekend

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

This past weekend was amazing. Not only did we help organize a group trip for fan clubs around the country but it was also the Dolphins annual Web Weekend a conference of Miami Dolphins web masters that I have attended 11 years in a row.  Also the Dolphins played one of their most dominant games in the history of the franchise so that was nice too.

Dolfans NYC was founded because of Web Weekend. Michelle and I both ran Dolphins fan sites and realized we both lived in NYC and started watching games together. A few years later we abandoned our former sites and started Dolfans NYC. This is the 6th time we have attended as Dolfans NYC and the weekends keep getting better.

This year we donated $5000 to the Miami Dolphins Foundation beating our $3000 donation last year after giving $1000 in both 2011 and 2012. That’s $10,000 to the Foundation thanks to you guys. To celebrate we are holding a FREE raffle this week at Slattery’s Midtown Pub for the Lions game. All you have to do is show up and you get a ticket! We should have some cool prizes including a Dolfans NYC shirt signed by AJ Duhe.

Speaking of AJ Duhe, he and Chris Chambers came and spoke to us during Web Weekend. We also had GM Dennis Hickey and CEO Tom Garfinkel in attendance as well. It was pretty great. Plus Jordan Tripp, Michael Thomas and the Finsiders joined us at a party on Friday. Coach Philbin was supposed to speak with us but unfortunately he was out of town because of the death of his father. As always Michelle stepped up and bought a condolence card that we all signed.

The last event of the weekend (aside from the game!) was the Dolphins Webby Awards which are given out to Dolphins Websites. It means a huge amount to me that we have now won the Eddie Jones Community award all three years of its existence. This club has become as much about giving back as it is about football and so that award means a ton to me. We also won the social networking award which I take a bit of pride in considering I do 90% of the social networking for Dolfans NYC. Our third award was the “Most Informative Site” award which is kinda silly considering I haven’t updated this site in a month. That being said our Twitter account and Facebook page serve as great newswires and it still means a great deal because the awards are voted on by our fellow web masters.

Anyway, check out the pictures in this Flickr gallery below. I took all the pictures with our logo watermarked on the images. The other shots are courtesy of the Miami Dolphins. See you guys Sunday!

[tylr-slidr]http://www.flickr.com/photos/dolfansnyc/sets/72157648718752277/[/tylr-slidr]

Dolphins Look to Continue Thanksgiving Day Dominance

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

For most Dolphins (and Cowboys) fans, a Dallas-Miami Thanksgiving match-up conjures up images of Leon Lett’s infamous blunder in 1993. Down one point with 15 seconds left on the clock, Dolphins kicker Pete Stoyanovich lined up for a 40-yard field goal to win the game, but slipped on the ice and had his kick blocked by Dallas defensive tackle Jimmie Jones. As the Cowboys players and coaches began to celebrate, Lett inexplicably attempted to fall on the rolling football, only to lose control of it as he slipped on the ice. Miami recovered the ball on the Dallas one-yard line, and Stoyanovich nailed a short field-goal as time expired to give Miami an improbable 16-14 victory.

18 years later, the video remains just as, if not more hilariously fun to watch.

The 1993 Snow Bowl is one of four Fins-Cowboys Thanksgiving games – Miami has won two of the other three contests on the holiday and leads the all-time series 7-5.

November 22, 1973 – Dolphins 14, Cowboys 7

The Dolphins jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on a Larry Csonka one-yard run and a 45-yard touchdown strike from Bob Griese to Paul Warfield. Griese threw only 10 passes all game, as Csonka rushed for 80 yards and Mercury Morris chipped in with 49 to lead the Miami ground attack.

November 25, 1999 – Cowboys 20, Dolphins 0

This is one that the Dolphins, and especially Dan Marino, would like to forget. After a scoreless first half, the Cowboys took a 7-0 lead when Dexter Coakley returned a Marino interception 46 yards for the score. Troy Aikman later connected with Rocket Ismail for a 65-yard touchdown, and Emmitt Smith finished with 103 rushing yards. Marino completed only 15-of-36 passes for 178 yards and tied a career-high with five picks (good for a 17.8 quarterback rating). He was pulled late in the fourth quarter for backup Damon Huard. Let’s move on.

Jay Fiedler scores against the Cowboys.Novemeber 27, 2003 – Dolphins 40, Cowboys 21

That’s better. The last time these two teams met on Thanksgiving, the 8-3 Cowboys, led by QB Quincy Carter, never stood much of a chance. Miami took a quick lead on a Jay Fiedler one-yard scramble, and wide receiver Chris Chambers would go on to catch a career-best three TD passes. The Dolphins picked off Carter three times, and Jason Taylor returned a fumble for another score.

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