Head coach Mike McDaniel, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, cornerback Xavien Howard and linebacker Jerome Baker all met with the media today as the team practiced before Sunday's game vs. New England. Check out the top quotes from their media availabilities.
HEAD COACH MIKE McDANIEL
(On his message to QB Tua Tagovailoa and the team this week)
"It's very similar to a lot of the players. I was talking to the team today, specifically about what are the unintended consequences about really putting your best foot forward and committing to your profession and your craft on a new level than you really have your whole career. The unintended consequences are that you may put pressure on yourself to say, 'Okay, I'm going to have the greatest game.' This has been a lot of buildup before Week 1, so guys can fall into the trap of losing sight of what football is. And that's a bunch of guys who have been working at their craft together for an extended period of time, playing together. So my biggest message to all the guys really is don't let all that investment hurt you. And start to think that you need to make X, Y or Z play. This is a team sport, the ultimate team sport, and that trust, all the training, have a very good week of preparation and then go have fun playing the game that you all have learned to enjoy, hopefully at a new level, with their current teammates, at the peak and pinnacle point of their careers."
(On what he sees when he watches Patriots QB Mac Jones)
"He's a really cool player … It was one of the more impressive collegiate performances we've obviously had. We were involved in the quarterback evaluation process (in San Francisco), and just came away super impressed with his ability to play the NFL game. I think he's a guy that for whatever reason, people like to say subtle disparaging stuff. I see a really, really good NFL quarterback that he'll just continue to progress. He's one of the guys that I feel very confident in how he plays the position. And even if he has any sort of hiccups, he's one of the guys that you know is going to be a legitimate NFL player at that position, which is so hard to do. He commands the game. He really has a feel of timing and – elusive, people don't really say hand in hand, but within the pocket, he is very elusive. He's got a real cool charisma and command that I first saw when we were doing I think Zoom interviews at the time, talking to him about his stellar collegiate receivers, which one of them we have. I really like his play and I think the best is right in front of him for his career and I look forward to watching it 15 out of the 17 games of the NFL season."
QB TUA TAGOVAILOA
(On the challenge of opening the season with the Patriots for the third consecutive year)
"Yeah, I think it's tough. It's difficult every time we play a Bill Belichick defense. You never know what you're going to get. You're always seeing different fronts. I mean, he's going to find a way to confuse you. It's never normally the same. You'll get some similarities with people being in areas, but it's not usually the same, and that's what makes it pretty difficult, kind of making calls in the run game, and then kind of knowing where to go in the pass game against them."
(On how the environment in the building can benefit the team)
"I think everyone feels like they can share what they feel, they can express what they like, what they don't like, and they won't feel judged or they won't feel like they're stepping on anyone's toes. And I think that helps with accountability, too, with guys on the team. Mike (McDaniel) has made this kind of a safe area or safe space, if you will, for all of the guys. You know, because if Jaylen (Waddle) is not doing something right, you know, I'm able to tell him. If Tyreek's not doing something right I'm able to say what I think and same for them to me if I didn't do something right, they'll come and hold me accountable. So I think that's where the being comfortable kind of falls into with the atmosphere Mike created."
CB XAVIEN HOWARD
(On embracing the challenge of facing Bill Belichick and the Patriots)
"I definitely embrace that. That's the greatest coach in football right now. He's going to come prepared and his team is going to come prepared, and we're ready for it."
(On if he feels added pressure as the veteran in his room)
"I wouldn't say that I feel like I have to do more, but I've got to be the guy to talk to the guys, let the guys know what to expect and have everybody on the same page. I've been trying to work on that this offseason, being an older guy, and also communicating with the guys also."
LB JEROME BAKER
(On facing a Bill Belichick coached Patriots team)
"Yes, I mean, he's a future Hall of Fame coach. Of course I'm excited. I love a challenge, so it's definitely exciting. It is going to be a good one."
(On how the defense can combat New England's solid rushing attack)
"Do our job. On our defense, we believe in each other. We believe in the coaching staff. It's just one of those things, we have to lock in and do our fundamentals and do what we were taught. You don't have to try to hard and do too much. Do what you're supposed to do and it'll work out for us."