After the Dolphins second-half comeback against the Kansas City Chiefs came up short in Frankfurt, Germany, the team got a much-appreciated bye week to rest, recover and prepare for the second half of the season.
Miami (6-3) is back in action this Sunday, Nov. 19, to take on an energized Las Vegas Raiders team that is 2-0 under interim Head Coach Antonio Pierce.
Here's what Head Coach Mike McDaniel, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and other members of the team had to say as they prepare to return to Hard Rock Stadium this weekend.
Facing Las Vegas
Head Coach Mike McDaniel
(On preparing to play a re-energized Raiders squad) – "It's a talented team. They have well-coached fundamentals in all three phases. And I think what you're seeing is a team that it means something to play each and every game because they feel that much more a part of the journey when you have as much adversity as one can have in the middle of the season, which is a staff change. Kudos. I think it says a lot about the players in the locker room. I think it says a lot about their talent, but also the type of people that they have that they've been able to band together and rip off a couple wins."
QB Tua Tagovailoa
(On what he sees when watching film of the Raiders defense) – "Well, I think the thing they do really well is play together, obviously. If you look at the past two games that they've played in, defensively, I mean they look really good. No. 98, Maxx Crosby, is all over the field. If you look at his film, no straggling from that guy. You can see why he's talked about the way he's talked about. I've got a lot of respect for him. I think that's someone we're going to need to keep our eye on. And they have good guys in the backfield. It's not a team to sleep on and we have to be ready for whatever they have to throw at us."
LB Jerome Baker
(On playing a team on a two-game win streak with a new head coach) – "Man, they're hungry. They are hungry. They're just getting back to the simple things of who they want to be. The Raiders play good defense, run the ball, be physical. It's going to be a good test for us. I'm excited."
Reflecting on a 6-3 Start
QB Tua Tagovailoa
(On operating in a prolific offense despite a down year for scoring across the NFL) – "I would credit that to everyone on the offense. Our offensive staff, starting with the head man (Mike McDaniel), to (Offensive Coordinator) Frank (Smith), to our coaches position-wise, and then everyone buying in on the offense. None of that could be possible if we're all not bought in. It's an effort of everyone – all 11 guys – making this offense come to life, because if you look on film, a lot of what we do with our (play) actions and whatnot, we can't go and find that film from another team because nobody is necessarily running the top actions that we run as much. It's really all based off of the training, the fundamentals, the techniques that we've been going over every week in practice, and going out and trusting what you see and executing that."
DT Christian Wilkins
(On the progress the defense has made since the start of the season) – "I just think the biggest thing and the thing I'm most proud of, or what we're trying to focus on and encourage as a defense, is just getting better each day. Don't look at the big picture things. 'Oh, this or that.' Just focus on the steady improvement each and every day, being your best every day, bringing it out there. When we look up at the end of the year, even to this point, I feel like we've made improvements each week. Each day, we've had that mindset, so we'll continue that mindset, and like I'm saying, at the end of the season we'll look up and see where we're at."
Utilizing the Bye Week
Head Coach Mike McDaniel
(On the team's first nine weeks of the season and the importance of the bye week) – "I'm very, very happy about our pre-bye week season. And why is that? Because we've invested enough to the point that we've been able to win six out of nine games. That's the plus. But in the losses, we got something out of it each time. That's because the guys haven't run from – guys really wanted to win each one of those games and we didn't. But in the process, they were a different team because of it, because we've really held each other accountable and haven't ran from any of our failures. So, the bye week, I just wanted us to pick up where we left off and not lose sight of the journey that we are right in the middle of."
WR Jaylen Waddle
(On how the bye week helped the team recharge) – "It helped a lot. We got some good work in before we left. Gave us a couple days off just to rejuvenate, really. Body recovery. I got a lot of treatment, not just me but all the guys. It was important to get our body right, especially going into the last stretch of the season."
For more analysis on Sunday's game against the Las Vegas Raiders, listen to the latest episode of Drive Time with Travis Wingfield.