Read the full transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference ahead of Day 7 of Training Camp on August 3, 2023.
(The new offensive line coach, Butch Barry – what have you noticed, learned, observed in regards to his method of teaching and motivating?) – "He knows how to protect himself from the sun, first and foremost. You can find him by hat. He sweats a lot. I had a previous relationship with him, working relationship, and when you do have that, there are certain expectations that you have when you're joined back together, and he's met those expectations because of his diligent command of that crew. I think they've got a really cool thing going there where they've been working and owning techniques that really, it's probably the best they've been able to understand what we're trying to do as an offense. The thing about o-line coaches, if you have a good one, which I think we do have, they're typically not satisfied. They're typically ready to get a sucker punch from the side that they can't see just because the nature of offensive line in general; you're out-athleted because the best pound-for-pound athletes really are defensive linemen in this game, so you have to be on your p's and q's. You can't be result-based. You have to be process-driven. And he's really done a great job, but classic o-line coach for him; don't ask him what type of job he's doing because he'll grumble and (be like) 'we need to be better today.' Which is what ultimately I think players really yearn for."
(What have you seen from OL Liam Eichenberg so far and what have you wanted to see from him at this stage?) – "So Year 2 is very exciting for multiple reasons. Like what we do from an offensive line standpoint, there's some trust fall involved, where you're like, 'Okay, we don't want you to just block this person safely. We want you to aggressively attack, thereby making you vulnerable.' That can – ebbs and flows. We felt it last year, the players know it, that sometimes, when in the heat of battle, you revert back to things that we don't emphasize. Well, that doesn't mean those things were bad; it means now you're off with your teammate who's trying to do it – it's the synergy of it. And he's really, really taken a step forward that way. Year 2, since you do know what words mean, what play calls mean, how we communicate, how we target, aiming points, timing. Since he does know that, he's been able to do some things we were unable to do in Year 1 that I was adamant that we didn't do in Year 1 which is move him around a little bit, too. I really love where he is at in the progression, but again, it is a progression that's long, because like I was alluding to before, we're trying to do stuff at a high level that you have to really kind of empty all of the old thinking and can't revert in the heat of battle. That's where our biggest problems came were people reverting, and he's right now doing a great job. But what's going to happen when the d-line is turned up today? Okay, then what's going to happen next week when you have different people? Those are the things that are monumental for him, as well as all the guys that have been here to really make sure that what we're doing on a day-to-day basis is ingrained and not just a practice technique."
(OL Austin Jackson – same question) – "Austin being – he was out longer. I got to see less of him and it's been exciting. Exciting for him because what he hasn't done, what you're fearful of – case in point, I know there are several guys that are very locked into one-on-one pass rush. And what happens to young offensive linemen especially when they are in an important year of their career, is you go and set on somebody and it doesn't work. It actually is quite the opposite. You get up and under or do something like that. Typically, the response is, 'Okay, I'm not doing that again.' And where he's at is he can turn and have a football conversation with myself, Frank (Smith), Butch (Barry), 'Lem' (Lemuel Jeanpierre), or Mike Judge. He can have a football conversation of what just happened, so that he can do the technique he just did better. He's flashed some really good things and then there's been great teaching done by the defense when he hasn't done things correctly. So he continues to get better. He's a better player than he was last week. And that's where I'm at with really all those guys. We have a lot of competition across the board in the offensive line room, so everyone's having to really go after it, which is a cool thing as a coach to witness and right now we are in Practice 7. And we have three opportunities to practice against each other before we practice against an opponent. So that's what we're focused on today for him."
(I don't think there are many people who have had a better camp than DT Christian Wilkins. Every day he seems like he splashes. The fact that he's putting on this kind of performance in a contract year – what does it say about him that he's out there, some of his peers are holding out, he's out there playing his butt off?) – "No, it's classic Christian. He goes about his daily business and gets satisfaction on earned things. He doesn't – that's not in him. I think his teammates appreciate that they know that when he comes to work, they're going to get his energy and we've learned to count on that."
(I wanted to address something, bring up old stuff that happened a week ago, but I just really want your thought process. In Thursday's practice, there was a heavy blitz practice from Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio. Does Vic have those conversations with you before the practice or does he like, "surprise"?) – "That can happen organically in like a non-scripted period, depending on what the emphasis of that day is. When it comes to periods like that, that's pre-planned so that guys can have a legitimate – so coaches can prepare guys, just in general about – and it's said on the practice phase, so that period you're speaking of was a pressure period. That allows for us to work on the stuff that gives us issues with pressure, as opposed to just throwing plays out there so that both sides can be challenged appropriately. That way, it's just like calling it a game – what are you going to call when you're expecting pressure? Or what is not going to get called because you're fearful of the result of pressure? Those two things get planned into it, which is why you have a period of it. It's so that you can really get better on both sides and you kind of know what's coming."
(Saturday scrimmage – what will you be looking for from QB Tua Tagovailoa in particular outside of the ordinary?) – "Really in a scrimmage setting, you get to change the atmosphere. There's extra people in the stands. You just get to ramp up in the progression and in those moments you want to see someone live in what they've been working on. Any time by happenstance, a situation comes up that – which almost every day in practice it does – where this is similar to a situation we've had before. The coaching development and scrimmage game is a wonderful opportunity to see where guys are at and to coach because if anything changes or deviates from the plan or what has been talked about, you can bring it up. And then if it doesn't, that's empowering. It's solidified. So just any little detail that you can kind of change things up. I think there's valuable coaching things to see and that's what I want to see from him and a lot of other guys that way, too."
(All that muscle QB Tua Tagovailoa has put on, how do you think that might help him and will you look for any of that on Saturday?) – "Arm wrestling competitions. He's less prone to defeat. There are unintended consequences. He really took his training on his body serious this offseason for a multitude of reasons and I've seen various things, where he has a little more short-area explosiveness, where you're able to manipulate yourself in the pocket at a more explosive rate. I don't know this to be facts, but it appears by my layman's eye that he has more pitches in his arsenal, like he can layer stuff and drive it just with even more command than he's already pretty adept at, considering his accuracy. So I think it just overall helps him feel prepared and execute a lot of things and the residuals are apparent and various."
(I wanted to ask about the QB competition with QB Mike White and QB Skylar Thompson. Just from your experience, are you looking for anything from those two guys or the backups in particular than you would maybe a starting competition because they can change or do you all kind of just view…?) – "It's an interesting question because what's unique about the quarterback position is there's so much stuff going on. You touch the ball every play and if you're off, it fails. So one thing with guys at the quarterback position competing, is I find you have to be even more resistant to making assumptions, determinations. You have to let it play out longer because so many – all of a sudden things can click and your game changes a lot. There's a lot of things that they've been coached in the past and having an idea of what exactly we're trying to get done. Sometimes you don't know why someone's not completing something and then all of a sudden, it becomes second nature and they'll do it three times in a row. And you'll ask them why and it was because they were thinking about it in an inverse way. Very, very common. So you kind of have to be a little more patient with the process and let it all play out at that position because as soon as you predetermine one thing, the next day, some guy will light it up."
(General Manager Chris Grier went on the radio the other day and talked about the idea of bringing in CB Eli Apple and talking to WR Tyreek Hill ahead of time and chemistry and building a roster. I know fans often think it's a Madden type of situation where you plug guys in, but I wanted to hear your perspective on the idea of building the right type of roster and making sure chemistry is right.) – "I have fallen victim of it as well in my life. It's one of the things I think is valuable of remembering all those moments as a fan and remembering all those moments when I was a college player before I got into coaching, that these are a collection of human beings that have all the ills and all the strengths of all of us. So when you – and ultimately, players end up shaping what your team looks like. The players are the culture. And when you are when you're adjusting something that is so significant to their lives, which is the locker room, you treat it like human beings in every sense and how that's going to affect other human beings. We think a lot about the residual effects of A, in the whole development of the team because we're recognizing that these are human beings, individuals that are all affected by things as well. So I think it's important to remember that human scope in the whole process."
(What factors go into the selection of the orange jersey recipient or is it strictly about practice performance?) – "It is about practice performance that day. There are underlying things. As a team, you're writing your own story each and every day and within that story, there are things that go on all the time that the team is very privy to and when someone is able to make certain plays based upon coaching or based upon, hey maybe they messed something up earlier, that factors in as well. But it is solely about somebody that epitomizes what we are trying to do that day. So the jersey is really a reflection of what our team wants and that person's effort that day. It doesn't mean that they were perfect or they had the statistically greatest day ever. It's about doing their job that day and how it affects the team and also you get to be the DJ. And the one thing that all the players know is we don't have any time for people – their opinions really about your DJ set list – because if they don't like the music, then just be the orange jersey winner. Flat out. So as much as it behooves me, there are some musical selections that I am not super excited about, but if I want to do something about it, I better win the orange jersey today."