Read the transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Wednesday, December 28, 2022.
Is QB Tua Tagovailoa in the building today and has he been ruled out for Sunday?
MM: "In regards to Tua (Tagovailoa), I've been advised by medical professionals that it's critical that Tua worries only about the day that he's currently in and nothing else. He is in the building, but beyond that, as medical professionals will tell you, any added pressure, any added sort of – anything beyond that day does not behoove the process at all so I'll take that very serious and worry about his health first and foremost and take the advice of the medical professionals."
How's QB Tua Tagovailoa feeling?
MM: "He's better than yesterday. Beyond that, I feel like it's kind of weird to extrapolate beyond 'good,' which is what he tells me."
So QB Tua Tagovailoa did suffer a concussion?
MM: "He did."
Do we know what stage of the protocol QB Tua Tagovailoa is in right now?
MM: "No, I'm not even really worried about any of that. Again, in moments like this, you lean on medical professionals and I stopped even thinking about anything but each day and when it was clear and obvious that is the best thing for him. So the stage, all that stuff, it's just a day at a time."
At this point, is QB Teddy Bridgewater the starter for Sunday?
MM: "The whole idea of taking it day to day is kind of rough on coaches who have to plan for a bunch of people, so the approach that I'm unequivocally taking, today I was on the phone, I met with him yesterday – I met with Teddy (Bridgewater) yesterday; I was exchanging ideas and talking through some stuff all the way till like 10:15 last night. Then it was his bedtime. And so moving forward today and the whole team's approach is Teddy Bridgewater is the starter. This is why we thought it so vital to go after him in free agency. This is why he's done such a diligent job during the course of the season with his own injuries and such to be prepared for this opportunity. And I know the team is very excited. I feel very fortunate to have him and for him to get his opportunity that he's totally prepared for."
Has QB Tua Tagovailoa already visited with or scheduled to visit with one or multiple – I know last time he visited multiple concussion specialists?
MM: "They're treating it with prioritizing his health more than anything. Beyond that, I'm not sure if it's really my business to go into his day to day. Just honestly, it's science. You don't want to – this is a private time for him to focus on his health and that's all I really want to get into."
Whenever the time comes that QB Tua Tagovailoa clears concussion protocol and doctors say that they're comfortable, can you foresee a scenario where you might add an extra layer of caution, either hold him out an extra week or shut him down for the season?
MM: "Again, I think for me to speak totally outside the lines of stuff that's for medical professionals and Tua (Tagovailoa) himself, I think that's a layer of pressure either way. I don't pretend to know what that feels like to adhere to somebody else's expectations in some way, shape or form. I'm just worried about his health on a day-to-day basis and will take that step, whatever step that is next, whatever that next step is. But beyond that, I would feel irresponsible to go even think about if or what or whatever. That's taking a lot of non-expertise in my own hands."
Before back in October, QB Tua Tagovailoa went through all those battery of tests and they said that there's no long-term risk. Will you need to hear those words? "There is no long term risk" for him to see the field again?
MM: "Yeah, this is a human being that I'm – very, very much like all players, I'll do what the medical experts advise me to do and I'm quite certain they're not going to advise me in the wrong direction when it has to do with his health in regards to that. But that's again, something that I'm not even going to go in direct conflict with what the doctors have told me to do, which is just to worry about one day at a time and not project any sort of absolute to have him get information secondhand of whatever thing that this is just a day-at-a-time process that his health is the first, foremost and only priority."
Were you able to pinpoint when exactly QB Tua Tagovailoa sustained that concussion on Sunday?
MM: "The day after the game – it was on Monday – there was some, upon reviewing the film, we had some questions. Kind of feel like we had an idea that there was, 'Hey, did something happen to this portion of the game?' We questioned him. Once we got really – we continued to question him – and once we get some information back, we're like, you need to go see the see the doctor. So to say with absolute certainty that it was this, that or otherwise; it was just there were some things that caused us to really prod and as a result, we felt like he needed to see medical professionals."
Were the things that caused you to prod stuff on the tape or was he behaving in a way on Monday, showing any symptoms to you in your meetings with him or with anyone else that caused you to say "you should see a doctor?
MM: "This specifically had to do with consistencies of things that I study daily on tape, which provoked some direct questioning with a high degree of concern."
You and QB Tua Tagovailoa are very close off the field. For you as a person, as a friend, as a coach to him, what's it like just seeing him have to go through this?
I want to ask about QB Teddy Bridgewater. How has he done when given the opportunity to play this year? What are some things that he can be better at?
MM: "I think the season, as the journey has gone for the team, has given us some definitely moments of adversity and turmoil. One of the – our whole team was very excited for Teddy (Bridgewater) the Jets week, and then first play of the game, we all know what happened. So I think with regard to in professional football, at the quarterback position, there's two ways you can go with it as a starter for a game when you have the entire week to prepare. One way, the pressure gets to you and sometimes, it makes you worse. That's not Teddy. Teddy thrives on those moments and really was – I know the team has seen exactly what he was prepared to do that particular game when given the entire week to prep. And I think that it is a big deal for guys that enjoy the moment, enjoy the camaraderie, enjoy the leadership, enjoy everything about being a starting quarterback. I'm happy for him to get the opportunity to fully prepare for a game that the team needs him for. So we're very fortunate to have him and excited for his opportunity."
A question about the shock value and trauma to the team regarding QB Tua Tagovailoa. You just said it was terrible for you personally. The team, how do they stay focused on a game when one of their best players, one of their most popular players, most loved players, is dealing with something more serious than an on-field football injury?
MM: "It's hard to – you're talking about the opinions of an entire locker, that's a lot of people. I think overall, there's so much investment within this season. They chose to have the ambition, the drive, and it was because of them, all their collective work, that we were able to be in a fortunate situation of having seven wins at the bye (week). There's way too much investment for – and then going through the month of December where the only silver lining is there was no shortchange of investment by the whole team. If you're going to lose four straight, you want it to be in those type of terms that you're going all in and then trying to learn from each and every game without blinking – much, much easier said than done. It's one of the reasons that it's so difficult is the emotional investment. I think these guys, because of that, have a team that's playing against them. Everything that we've set out to do is right in front of us. And I can tell you one thing, the New England Patriots don't care about our feelings. They're very aware about that. I see a very focused and determined group that recognizes the opportunity within the adversity."
I just want to get clarity and I apologize if this is redundant for you, but you said you saw inconsistencies on Monday. Was that when you watched the tape or when you watched the tape with QB Tua Tagovailoa and his reaction to watching the tape?
MM: "No, it was when we were watching it the morning of, before he came in."
Anything on any other note you can update us with regard to LB Bradley Chubb and FB Alec Ingold and their availability this week?
MM: "I was depending on you (to ask that). I thought you were slipping. (laughter) There's some question marks as big as there's been all season, because some guys had some legitimate dings. There's some casts involved in those two particular individuals as well as some other stuff that there are a lot of guys that are really going to be – we'll be finding out later in the week. They all know how important it is. All the people really involved are some of the guys that we count on the most, and they feel that responsibility. They will do everything they can, but at the same time, there's only so much you can control. I do know for a fact that the people in question, I won't have to question anything about the process to get to gameday. But we will be left with some question marks that we've had – I guess it's fortunate we've had a lot of injuries this year. So I don't see guys really – it'd be different if we were going against a division opponent in January and it was like, 'Oh wow, how do we win with injuries?' We've been down this road and have had these reps. If any one of those individuals can't go, we're fortunate to have some professionals that our team believes in that can go attack the mission at hand and see if we can leave the month of December in December."