October 22: Mike McDaniel's Media Q&A Transcript
Mike McDaniel, head coach of the Miami Dolphins (transcribed by Philadelphia)
Regarding the playoff-like ambiance:
"Everything is learnable. That was a crucial matter. Since our squad is on the younger side, I kind of knew coming into the game that kind of vibe would exist, and I think it's extremely important for them to experience. They are essential. You must experience what it's like to play such a strong squad away from home. You know, it's a crucial step in your season-long development because of how little room for error you have. You want to lose badly and against a really strong team if you're going to lose games. The group of coaches and players currently gathered in the locker room are suffering because they believe they left certain plays on the field. You know, losses may be positive things as well, if they are handled properly, avoided by placing blame, and examined inside. We will thus be committed to making it the future direction of this, beginning tomorrow."
Regarding the fines:
"You definitely cannot have penalties of minus ten. You then consider the similarities between it. Is there a trend, and you have to examine each case carefully and closely. It's not enough to just point and complain that something is unfair. I don't get that at all. It's more about examining who we are, what we can influence, and what areas of our game we can improve. As you are aware, being out of position during any phase usually results in penalties. Thus, we must begin with that and ensure that men comprehend and draw lessons from things because, if you are going to experience something as exasperating as this loss, you may as well — you better make it worthwhile. We will undoubtedly concentrate on that."
Regarding Tua Tagovailoa of the Dolphins, quarterback:
"No, there were a few double movements in that specific one that are more suited for man coverage, so it kind of disperses in that direction where they're very close together. We have been focusing on it for some time now. That's what you need to take away from that specific play with Tua, you know, because playing quarterback in this league is difficult enough as it is, but you also need to get used to adjusting to playing without protection as opposed to when you do. I felt that we did have good protection on that specific play, but I'm sure Tua will be critical of himself as a leader and his current professional status after seeing the movie. He tends to take throws too seriously, and he kind of let that one go underhanded. I was hoping Raheem [Mostert], the running back, might take a backseat and make a play. He was having trouble with what appeared to be legal contact later on. We didn't lose the game for that reason, for sure. Tua made a lot of plays under pressure, and I thought he had a very, very strong game overall, especially that play."
Regarding his arrival with the top rushing assault and the extent to which that influenced his play-calling:
"Compared to before, we spent more time in the shackles. We had a few plays with little nuances that, to be honest, the Philadelphia Eagles made us pay every time. Perhaps our track was a bit too tight or wide, or one of our offensive linemen was a hair off. Our offence cannot succeed unless we have a strong running game. We are proud of the fact that, while it started a bit too late in the game, we will definitely improve going forward.
Regarding the necessity of winning away games and how a coaching staff may ensure they are prepared:
You are figuring out who your team is and what you can and cannot accomplish while travelling, so in my opinion, a fair portion of the burden rests on my shoulders. Coaches can have a tendency to act a little too aggressively while making decisions. If that's the case, I felt like I was the one who initiated it. There were a few situations when it might have been fixed, but in one case, I changed the play-call too late, so it is not the players' fault. As a result, we had to utilise one timeout. We will examine carefully what we are doing and how we are doing it, and make sure that we improve, since it was clearly insufficient to win and defeat a football team of that calibre. Then, we weren't as sharp as normal coming out of the huddle, which usually leads to problems. It was unfortunate because I felt that the way our defence performed and the significant physical plays they made that were somewhat wasted gave us a clear chance to win."
Regarding the state of Dolphins linebackers David Long Jr. and Jevon Holland following their collision:
"After being cleared by the on-site expert, [Dolphins S] Jevon Holland returned to the game. David Long Jr., a linebacker for the Dolphins, entered the locker room and, well, never left. I haven't gotten a chance to speak with Kyle [Johnston], the Dolphins head athletic trainer, and his team, so I'll get a better report on that tomorrow for sure.
About the degree to which Dolphins wide receiver Chase Claypool will be useful:
"We sort of ran out of plays with the package that [Dolphins wide out] Chase Claypool had. We therefore anticipate him playing a little bit more, but once you start having - with [Dolphins WR Jaylen] Waddle leaving the game, it becomes more difficult to involve a newer player in that manner unless it's within his package of plays. As I mentioned earlier, we kind of strayed from our intended course of action. He's already carved himself a little role with us and is doing a wonderful job. I'm hoping that grows as he gets more chances to be a part of our offence.
Regarding how injuries affected the match:
I think it would be great to have players return to our team, but losing wasn't caused by not having X, Y, or Z, whoever they may be. You know, good players—having more good players makes you better. However, it would be difficult for me to really look at, you know—I kind of look at what we do have and was very confident going into the game—of the players that were scheduled to play a good amount of snaps. If we were playing our best brand of football, we may have still won that football match."
About CB Xavien Howard of the Dolphins not playing tonight:
"Yes, I am aware that I often discuss with you guys the need to shield players from themselves. In addition, rival teams occasionally have narrow minds. For this reason, it didn't seem wise to kind of push the envelope at this point, given how crucial [Dolphins CB Xavien Howard] is to the team's success in the long run. He had a nice week, but he'll be nibbling at my ear all next week—possibly every day—because he didn't enjoy watching the game while dressed in street clothes."
Regarding the team's beginning to rally after behind by two scores:
They felt like they could pull that off, in my opinion. All I can say is that this game has definitely had some beneficial effects. The squad seems to be in a position where they can compete against a resolute opponent in these kinds of environments. Undoubtedly, there is still room for development, and that is a necessary part of the process. Our locker room demeanour after halftime gave me hope. The manner we entered the field inspired me, and we undoubtedly intended to close that distance. While it was sadly too brief, I thought our soldiers had been validated when it happened."
Regarding how the offence and play-calling are impacted by offensive line struggles:
Yes, that is undoubtedly a component of the work. Though it's not the first or the last, it may undoubtedly add another level of complexity to your decision-making. I consider that to be entirely my responsibility. That's a persistent issue that will never be an acceptable justification. It simply wasn't good enough tonight, and we need to be ready for any moving and shovelling that may need to happen."
Regarding Dolphins wide receiver Cam Smith's lack of defensive snaps:
It is only organic development. The main thing about him is that, by all accounts, he's getting better and better and closer and closer to doing that. There are many different journeys that players take, and he has a room full of very capable players. I believe you have to do right by the team and right by the player to make sure they're appropriately versed. In my perspective, with a position like that, you don't simply throw individuals into it and expect them to pick it up on the fly. It's like a quarterback position, where you don't want to harm their development by putting them on the field too soon. With that, scar tissue may exist. Although Cam will eventually have his chance to play on the pitch, I truly appreciate the way he conducts himself."