Read the full transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022.
(How much can a young quarterback learn from just having Tom Brady on the other side?) – "I think it's more about learning stuff from going against an opponent and an opponent as qualified and that has as much esteem as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – winning the Super Bowl two years ago, being in the divisional playoffs. Contrary to popular belief, Tua (Tagovailoa) doesn't play one snap against Tom Brady. (laughter) They'll be on separate fields, but it's more about the quality of this organization and the type of football they play is a tremendous opportunity for really all the guys when we're trying to play football at a high level."
(Will QB Tua Tagovailoa be watching Tom Brady at all?) – "Again, I would actually be very disappointed if he did. He'd probably be taking a sack if he was watching him because it would be simultaneous plays. (laughter) I think again, it's more about going against a different defense, not just schematically but how they play football with different techniques that they emphasize. Those things are a big part of the NFL game. You're adjusting every week, so those subtle differences are huge differences. That's what I want really, and really what I'm focused on them taking in."
(On going against another team) – "The first part of it is a big deal. You're going against another team so you want that rep. Guys are sick of going against each other generally 10 days into camp everywhere you're at, so it kind of revitalizes football to a degree from the practice perspective. We've been practicing against each other for a long time. But then outside of that, it's all about how we really – I'm not even that concerned about the actual outcome of anything. It's more whether it's a successful play or if it's a negative play and it's about how we respond because you know that this game, that's all that it's full of. You're never just – any time you're content or any time you're satisfied with the last play, that's when you get hit in the face and hit in the mouth moving forward."
(These are only practices and I get that, but over the next couple of days, does it give you a measure of where your team is at and how far you've come?) – "No, every time you're on the football field, something I really try to instill in the guys – every time you're on the football field is telling you where you're at. Everything else is fake. It's all made up, so you're exactly right. It's something that you're excited to see where your team is at that day and then whatever that is, can they best handle that for the next? Do you use whatever's happening – successful or failure – you use that for the next day. To me, that's the trick because whatever records are in the first quarter of the season, for instance, nothing is decided by that. There's countless number of teams that are 4-0 that don't make the playoffs. There's teams that start behind the 8-ball. I think I was on a team last year that was 3-5 and we were in the NFC Championship game, so it is all about that day and it tells you a lot, but then even more so, you get an opportunity to figure out what they're going to use with whatever the result was for the next day which is why we're all so pumped to be here."
(You mentioned that you're going to make sure that everyone knew the rules of engagement going into today, so what are the rules regarding tackling, blitzing, fisticuffs and shenanigans?) – "The shenanigans, that's a subjective thing. A lot of things that you guys perceive as shenanigans by me are not shenanigans. (laughter) Really, we're approaching it like it's exactly like we approach our own practices where it's important to me for guys not to fight with their teammates. Sometimes it happens, but you make sure that players understand why anything outside of the whistle is only hurting the team and there's a lot more implications in whatever you're doing than just yourself. So we're handling in terms of tackling those things the same way that we've done in practice where if you have a direct shot on someone, we're thudding up. If you're on the side of someone, you're protecting the team because there can be unintended consequences about drilling somebody on the side. And then we're taking tracking angles and tagging off down the field in space. So it should, and the way that I addressed it, was the same way that we've been in Miami Gardens. That this is to get you better. Anything outside of getting people better, we don't really have time or patience for that."
(What are your thoughts so far of Todd Bowles and the opportunity he has in Tampa?) – "I've been familiar with Todd for a while and I have nothing but the utmost respect for his defense. His coaching ability as a head coach, he commands respect but is himself. I really respect that. The bottom line is his teams play hard. They always have whether he's been a position coach, coordinator or head coach. Whatever his elixir is, he inspires his players to play very inspired football which is why it's a great challenge for us to bring our energy and our commitment to each other out here against this whole opponent who's extremely formidable and should be outstanding work for all of us."
(Just given what happened with the organization last week, is there any awkwardness…?) – "For me, nothing happened. Everyone else is the one making it awkward. IT doesn't occupy a single iota of space with anybody. It's hard enough to be good in this league. As the Miami Dolphins, all of our energy is very coordinated and only has to do with us getting better and everything else would be an opportunity cost that we're not willing to expend."
(You guys traded TE Adam Shaheen yesterday. Do you guys feel good about your tight end depth?) – "Everything in NFL training camps, I've always thought it was kind of funny. Like, general managers are working day in and day out while the rosters stay the same, so different opportunities come across your board and Chris (Grier) is outstanding about communicating and talking with a bunch of general managers about everything and the bottom line was to Adam Shaheen's credit – he's a well-thought-of NFL player as he should be – and to our tight end room's credit, we thought that we could afford investing in the future draft capital because we felt pretty good about the position as well. So the nature of trades, both sides end up having an advantageous situation. This is why they agree upon the. So we were happy for Adam, we were happy for the Dolphins that we could do that."
(How do you balance getting plays that you want to see … versus maybe showing too much of your hand in the preseason period against the Bucs?) – "No, it's always – you're always thinking about it. There's a million different types of decisions that you have to make as a result. But the main focus, it was a little easier for me and our coaching staff with this joint practice because we just really want our players to go out and compete with a winning organization and put our best foot forward. I think there's some of that chess match, but at the same time, there's a lot of overlapping plays in the National Football League. So putting too much into 'We can't do X, Y or Z,' isn't the best thing as well. It's kind of a fine balance."
(As a first-year head coach, what do you hope to kind of get out of this experience, just observing how another organization operates?) – "You know, whether it's fortunate or unfortunate, I've been – this is my seventh different franchise. I feel like the biggest thing is I just want the players to go through the emotions of what a joint practice is, especially against a good team. When you're fortunate enough to practice against a good team, guys want to do well. And in that process, one of two things is going to happen. They're either going to do well, or they're not – either way, it's our job to make sure that they understand that how do you use whatever happens to benefit you moving forward. So I just want to see a group of guys that are committed to this practice, which I think we all see that, and then I want to just play the hand that's dealt after the fact and after we watch the film."
(What have you learned about how your team responds to adversity in your few months here?) – "That's such a big deal to me. That's one of the pillars that we talk about a ton. Adversity is relative, and I think that we're had our own set and our own share of adversity internally with little things that don't go the way you want them to go. In that thus far, that's one of the reasons I love the guys and love the team, because they've responded exactly the way that they've been called upon at each and every turn, so in the game of football, like the game of life, now we're moving forward and steadily awaiting whatever piece of adversity falls our way in the near future because it's not if but when. And when that happens, I've gained a lot of confidence in how they're going to respond."
(Once games begin to be played, are you willing to put WR Tyreek Hill or WR Jaylen Waddle on punt returns or RB Raheem Mostert on kick returns?) – "I'm willing to do anything at any given time at any moment. (laughter)"
(This is the only time you'll be on the road before the Week 2 game in Baltimore. What's the value of having the guys together on the road?) – "Tremendous value. We traveled down here on Monday before a player's day off purposely, because this is where you get a lot of camaraderie. Guys have so many things going on in their lives, you spend a week together and there's no where to go but hang out with each other, and I think that over the course of my career, I've found that to be extremely beneficial. You end up looking back at these type of days when you're reflecting upon the entire season, and a lot of times, this is where the bonds solidify which is why it's one of the cool experiences that we're fortunate to do."
(What do you hope to see from the offensive line group over the next two days?) – "That's a great question, because there's – like any NFL defense, the offensive line play is a game of inches, but every NFL defense has a different way that they play football. It's not just Xs and Os on paper like structure; it's how do they defend blocks. This group is awesome at coming off the ball. Amongst the entire league, they're one of the top teams in defensive line penetration. They really launch off that, and that's an adjustment for our guys, which is – I'm not necessarily concerned with the first play or the first period. In the game of NFL football, you're mastering the week-by-week adjustments, so I want to see a progression of tailored techniques to what they're seeing. It's going to feel different. You watch tape, you know that it's different, but you don't get the true feel until it's live bullets, and I want to see guys progress as we go and adjust their techniques to fit who they're going against, which will be the name of the game in the regular season."
(How would you describe the offense and what has stood out to you so far?) – "The Miami Dolphins offense? Offensive. (laughter) I think it's a hungry group of individuals that are really getting into playing 11-on-11 football. What I mean by that is we've really started to see in the last week or two, every play you guys watch, you see 11 guys working together unselfishly for the sake of the offense. I've seen – we have some speed on our offense, everybody knows, but what I've seen is coordinated efforts to establish techniques. As far as defining it, hopefully, the idea is that we're a good offense, but for anything like anything in life that's worth anything, that's hard to do. It doesn't really matter if we're executing on the Sunday the last time we practiced against each other or we're executing against Tampa, we're building all of it. We should be building toward Week 1, and then after Week 1, we should be building to Week 2. In that process, the players and the play of the players will define it. It's something that I don't have a cool, catchy phrase to really define, I guess, but it's hopefully good. (laughter)"
(Is there an open competition at the returner spots?) – "There's an open competition everywhere. Shame on me if I'm anointing for no reason. There's – we have a lot of people that have the ability to return the ball in the punt and kickoff game. During the season, we plan to utilize everyone that makes the most sense for the team. Remember, special teams yards are yards – same as defensive years given up, same as offensive yards gained. So we'll use our players to best move the ball down the field to score touchdowns or stop other people from moving it."