(Photo Credit: Terrell Lloyd, San Jose State Athletics)
Written by Tyler Pastorius
As someone who has always enjoyed the NFL, I have always been fascinated with the process of getting to the NFL along with what the everyday life might be like for an NFL player. Luckily, I was able to talk an alumni from high school, David Fales who is currently a quarterback with the Miami Dolphins. David attended San Jose State and entered the NFL in 2014 being drafted at pick 183 in round 6 to the Chicago Bears. David has spent time with the Chicago Bears, a short stint with the Baltimore Ravens, and of course currently with Miami Dolphins.
David Fales: Hey Tyler, how’s it going?
Tyler Pastorius: Good, just a little busy with a move back down to California. Ready to get started?
David: Fire away!
Tyler: What has been the biggest difference in terms of playing in different cities coming from San Jose/Salinas (California) and getting the opportunity to play in places like Chicago and Miami?
David: Yea it’s hard but in San Jose my first real experience with cold was that bowl game and I got a little taste of it then. We played in the old RFK Stadium, the old Redskins stadium and it was pretty cold and it was pretty cold in December so that was my first experience. It’s tough but usually the team you go to they know how to prepare and handle it so they have everything you need in terms of clothing and stuff on the sideline to stay warm since there are heaters on the sideline to stay warm. It’s tough and then they do a good job to manage footballs since they get a little stiffer in the cold. Going to the cold in Miami it’s a whole different ball game, I’d say the heat is worse than the cold because you sweet so much and it’s hard to prepare for that and you just have to get used to it out and go do it. We also know how to handle it as well, we know to hydrate and keep a good diet. Every team does a pretty good job of managing everything.
Tyler: Going off of that, do you have to prepare differently going into a game based off of weather conditions?
David: Yea, if we know its going to rain then we aren’t going to prepare differently except we know there is a chance of rain and some of the plays we have ready to go might not be happening in terms of passing plays. Outside of that not really.
Tyler: What has been the biggest difference playing at each level? Obviously, speed is one thing that a lot of people bring up.
David: Yea speed is definitely one but I feel like speed is something that you don’t really realize it because you either adjust or don’t and then if you don’t you really don’t last that long. Its not only the speed physical by mentally is the biggest jump at every level. There is a lot going on before the play and during the play from college to the NFL. From high school to college there is a lot more processing you have to do. Once you get to the NFL, you got so much experience sometimes you don’t even realize what you are mentally processing. So, it doesn’t seem like much but when you look back to see what you did at the line of scrimmage in high school, it is nothing to what we are doing now. I would say the mental side is the hardest and is what you need to focus on the most. Sometimes there is so much going on you need to figure out a way to simplify it and sometimes simplifying it comes as a second nature that you don’t even think of it with more reps and experience.
Tyler: What is your typical day at a training camp and how does it differ from the regular season?
David: So training camp, wake up at 5:45 (AM) go in, eat, get ready, roll out because the way we have it here we practice first thing in the morning. We have a 20- minute morning at 7:30 and then its time to practice from 8-11. But the morning is reviewing any notes we need to go over for practice and getting my body ready to go like rolling out and all that stuff, then activation, and then after its lunch and then we are watching film of practice and then usually we will usually have a install we go over for another two hours that is for the next morning because we go over it the night before since we don’t have a lot of time before practice. Its sort of that cycle everyday and we typically don’t get done till 8 at night with a bunch of meetings and dinner mixed in. In season, it’s different every day. Sunday its game, Monday Tuesday are kind of review/lift days, review/lift /install getting ready for the new week and Wednesday is like the first work day of the week where it is the full day of practice, film, install because we will put in red area, 3rd down, first and second down. Then Thursday is the same as Wednesday that’s another long day. Friday is a half-day where it will be red zone practice day. It’s a little bit lighter and little slower. Saturday is walk through then Sunday game then repeat all over again.
Tyler: I know sometimes teams/coaches like to do victory Mondays if you guys get a win, do you guys do it in Miami?
David: I think we have done it once. But, usually if it is victory Monday you still have to get stuff done. There is nothing mandatory and you wont have meetings since usually you would meetings that day and watch film. But you still have to come in and do whatever recovery, watch film, and talk to your coaches anyway. It happens but really you might just be able to come in and sleep longer.
Tyler: Going back the mental attitude, what’s the mental attitude you have in the preseason versus the regular season?
David: Its different because we aren’t game planning in the preseason its all base stuff. Its all-general base stuff our base package, basically day one stuff. There isn’t a whole lot of scheming against “this is what they did last week” since they are going to be doing their base stuff as well. They want to evaluate their players. Most teams are going to be doing the base install that they did in OTA’s because they want guys to run stuff that they understand and know and they want to see how they execute it since they are trying to evaluate everyone. It is way different. The ones are playing all day, the twos aren’t playing all day, everyone is rotating so it is hard to game plan that since you don’t know who you are going to be playing against. In the regular seasons there is special stuff if you got six games of film to go off of and specific plays you are running that week, its just totally different and a whole different feel.
Tyler: With the guys you have been playing with, how much advice do you learn from your QB room from guys like Jay (Cutler) and (Ryan) Tannehill?
David: Yea a lot. Just being around a guy like Jay and Ryan but Jay I would say I have learned the most. Being a rookie and not knowing anything and spending the majority of my career being around him. You kind of learn a lot being around him even if it’s just watching him. Its not necessarily in the meeting room him telling you something. But he is a smart guy who has played a lot of football so you learn a lot being around that guy of what to do or not to do. He is getting a lot of the reps so there is always something. For Ryan, they are two different people and handle things differently. So you see what he is really good at and are able to pick his brain. There’s always something you can learn from everybody.
Tyler: Throughout your career, what has been your favorite stadium you’ve played at?
David: Chicago’s is pretty cool. I liked Chicago stadium. I like Miami’s as well but I don’t really have a favorite.
Tyler: When do you typically find out the depth chart and the amount of reps you’ll get for a preseason game?
David: It varies like in years past they would give us a heads up and what is going to happen. This last game (against the Buccaneers) I didn’t know, me and Brock (Osweiler) both didn’t know until literally I was running onto the field. But it doesn’t matter anyways because its like hey be ready. That’s how it’s going to be in a game anyway. It didn’t really matter to me. You just know your going to go in so whenever that it is its happening.
Tyler: Right, just having the next guy up attitude toward it.
David: Yea, it doesn’t matter. You’re just going to stay ready. Sometimes they tell you this is how its gonna happen but sometimes it doesn’t go accordingly sometimes, the ones go on more series and it carries into the quarter your supposed to be playing. What I learned is that even though they say you might be going in during this it might not happen so you got to stay ready for whatever.
Tyler: Do you typically set a goal or expectations for yourself going into a game?
David: I mean you just want to be efficient running the offense. You don’t want to press too much. Just understand the situation and move your team up and down the field. That’s one thing. I want to walk away knowing I made the right decisions, I was efficient, I got the ball out fast and when there was an opportunity to make a play I did it. As long as you understand the offense and play within it you will be alright. Don’t try to do too much outside if and don’t try to make plays that aren’t there. I just want to be efficient and do my job.
Tyler: This season and last season (preseason) you have hit some big plays that have been highlights, what’s the emotion like after that seeing the highlights?
David: Yea, it’s nice to hit one of those in a game. You do that in practice and your like alright or you’re talking about it like “hey be alert if we get this coverage this might happen”. So when it happens it’s exciting. It’s just exciting like nice we practiced that, we did that, we got the coverage, and we hit it because sometimes you just get that one opportunity, its going to happen once. So you’re going to be really pissed when you don’t hit it. Its nice walking away knowing you executed and you made it happen when you got the chance.
Tyler: When you walk off the field what’s it like with your teammates?
David: Oh yea, that’s how it is for everybody. If it was a good ball, its like hey that was a dime. We are all saying good job or praising each other. Because when we get to the sideline we have the little tablets and it has the still shots of before the snap and then a second after the snap. So we kind of review everything and talk about what happened or what didn’t happen or what needs to happen. So we are all talking about the play and what needs to go on.
Tyler: Awesome thank you for taking time out of your schedule during the middle of camp to do the interview.
David: No problem, thank you!
With two out of four preseason games done for the Dolphins, there is still no official word on who the backup for Ryan Tannehill will be. But, with ability and improvement David has shown over this past off-season there is rumbling that he may be QB 2 on the depth chart. Personally from watching, his arm strength and accuracy has greatly improved since he has entered the league and has taken great strides from last season. It will be interesting to see how the depth chart will play out for the Dolphins with Tannehill returning from his injury. The Dolphins play the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday the 25th and will probably be a key game for the backups to give coaches a good look before cuts happen. Keep an eye out for David Fales and his journey.