Read the full transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on August 17, 2023.
(Do you expect QB Skylar Thompson and QB Mike White to both play in the next Dolphins game?) – "Do I expect them to play? Loosely, I would expect players to play in the game. Who those players are and when and why – again, it's exhausting for you guys. It's exhausting for me, being principled. But today is the second day of joint practice. I think I'll be able to make some decisions this afternoon regarding who, what, where and why. But case in point, what if two guys exceed expectations in the recovery process and they're live action today? That changes things. What if we have the worst system of hydration known to man and 14 guys cramp? You have to be loose and versatile. I'll expect to know more after this practice. With those two specifically, I will say that I expect to see them a little bit more today in today's practice as the competition continues."
(Do you expect QB Tua Tagovailoa to see action in either of the remaining preseason games?) – "Is this on? What? I'm just messing around."
(Would you be comfortable going into the season without QB Tua Tagovailoa having taken a snap in a preseason game?) – "I would probably hesitate to say that. All joking aside, I would expect to see him in the preseason. However, you know me. I'm a wild card. I do think game reps are valuable depending on where you're at in your journey for preseason setting up the regular season. So I would expect him to play. How much and when, will be determined after today for this next preseason game and will probably be around the same time before Jacksonville as well."
(Does it enter your calculus at all if T Terron Armstead plays? Do you feel more comfortable with QB Tua Tagovailoa playing?) – "Calculus, huh? I've moved on. You told me I did algebra last year."
(Did I?) – "No. (laughter) I think if I didn't feel like there were capable NFL players behind Terron (Armstead) then that may factor. Everything factors into it. However I do think our given situation, I don't even know who the third, fourth tackle are right now and that's a good thing because the score's not settled. However I do know that play will be up to the standard that I've been used to over my NFL career of what you have to have as an NFL caliber player at that position."
(How would you assess Day 1 of joint practices?) – "It was cool because it was our second joint practice this season. It was Day 1 of the second opportunity we've had to go against another team in our second year, so guys kind of knew expectations. With the Houston Texans, it was their first, so I can relate to that in previous years, last year with Tampa. They brought the energy. I thought our guys were prepared for it. I thought there was some things that we got out of practice that were a result of fully investing in it. So it was an awesome day for that, because you can actually get to nitty gritty coaching on certain things to get better at. But the guys are starting to click. Timing offensively, the way we play together as a group on defense particularly in the back end with the way that we cover routes and then the way that our pass rush is going. There were a lot of really good things that set us up for a pretty good day, Day 2. The biggest thing is, I'm looking at every individual and if they made any sort of play, what do they do with that play? Today, are they comfortable? Are they giving up stuff that they took away the day before? Are they going through reads in a different manner than they did the day before because of a success or failure? Or is their foot off the gas? Or do they really become – the step you need to take is you need to take your successes and become addicted to them and that's where we're at."
(I know yesterday you were asked about Houston Texans Offensive Coordinator Bobby Slowik? Candidly about Ryan, I know you guys go way back to the Denver days. What does he bring to this coaching staff and this team?) – "So little known fact, Ryan (Slowik) is Bobby Slowik's brother."
(I knew that.) – "So you've done your research. He's been a part of my coaching journey having my first year with Ryan being 2005 with the Denver Broncos. And I think he's done an outstanding job being on the details of the defense and really pushing some good players to be great and some players that were kind of finding their way in the National Football League, really hold their own as solid NFL players as well. So across the board, I measure it pretty simply. I think as a position coach, you should directly look at are your players getting better? And that's a direct reflection of what we do on a day-to-day in this business. I see his guys getting better. I dap him up in the hallways and I've been nice to him."
(You mentioned red-penning Houston Texans Offensive Coordinator Bobby Slowik on the run game early in his career. What did you learn about how the run game relates to the offense, how it works, things that you were pointing out him?) – "It's invaluable. However menial the task, and I'm sure, as I was, there's times like, why am I doing this? This is terrible. You start to have a callus on your mouse-clicker hand. The trials and tribulations are real. (laughter) But it's everything really, when you look at it from the standpoint of, there's 11 players on the field and everybody's course of action affects and relates to other people. So, knowing not only from his standpoint, knowing how the defense gets stressed having coached defense, but understanding the true perils of offensive line play. When they feel empowered and when they feel vulnerable and what type of scheme indicates that; those are things that there's only one way to figure those out and that's the hard way, which is generally a good way. So I think it's huge for when you're trying to solve problems as a collective unit to be very much tied and paired to the individual journeys of every position on the field."
(You talked about how Texans Head Coach DeMeco Ryan noticed you were the first one in the building. What were his habits? What was he like in San Francisco that relate to him now?) – "There's such power in your consistency of your approach on a day-to-day basis. Okay, we are all human beings, and we work an entire workweek, coaches seven days, players six-plus. And then you have a bottom line and result. And sometimes that result, whether it's good or bad, doesn't reflect all that other time and where people are at. There are so many different confounding variables. So that consistency is unbelievable for players and coaches alike. You talk about a culture dictator is when guys don't blink in the sign of adversity. That's something that he naturally has a presence about him. He's secure in himself and doesn't get rattled, but the big thing that was obvious early and often is that he was going to bring the same amount of intention and deliberate nature each and every day regardless of what was going on."
(Is S Brandon Jones dealing with a setback since we last saw him increasing his practice workload?)– "The good news is there's been no setback in terms of his surgically repaired knee. That's all clear. What happens often when guys are coming back is the stress that you put on your body, there can be a lingering bump or bruise. Not serious, but something we're trying to make sure doesn't get worse, unrelated to his knee, not his knee, but just one of those things that we've kept our eye on Brandon, because, again, we protect people from themselves and he's about as hard of a worker that exists on the team. And I think all of his teammates acknowledge that, too."
(What do you think of Houston Texans QB CJ Stroud? Just seeing him a little bit here and just knowing him from his college days as well?) – "I think he is a very natural thrower that has a unique gift of ball placement. He's probably not bragging about ball placement right now because as an NFL quarterback, as a rookie, you're in a foreign language. So even when you're doing awesome, you're stressed out. Your job is to deliver messages to players. And so he looks the part to me with the way he throws the ball. And you can tell that he has an aura of confidence. That's exciting to see from a player."
(After watching the first day of joint practices, is there anything that stood out to you about the Texans that when you compare it to last year, caught you off guard?) – "I watched a preseason game. So I wasn't surprised by anything on the on the practice field. It's been really, really cool. I told DeMeco (Ryan) this, just to see a group of guys competing and putting some good stuff on tape. I thought they play hard. They carry his character with them and that's a hard thing to do that only happens with relentless day-to-day approach. I think it's a cool beginning to his tenure. And guys are definitely taking to him and responding because there's high octane effort on a down-in, down-out basis."
(If LB Jaelan Phillips was on the other side, and you studied the tape and were preparing to face him, what about his skillset would be most challenging?) – "Blocking him. So that's a cool player to kind of highlight just because Jaelan (Phillips) is a talented guy that has worked and worked and worked, and he's starting to see the fruits of his work really bear fruition. He's always been an impactful player and he has a special between whistle-to-whistle motor, that with his athleticism, he's been able to make some plays on NFL game days and really be a big part of this team. I think he has taken a step this year in being what he wants to be thus far. It is not a complete journey, but at this point, I think he feels a lot more in control of his own game and able to make plays in a multitude of ways with still having that motor and that relentless approach to give offenses fits in the fourth quarter."
(One of the things that stood out to me when we spoke to QB Tua Tagovailoa yesterday was on the two interceptions, it seemed like it was an example of him trying to look off the defense and then kind of go backside to hit the receiver. One of the Texans linebackers said he noticed that from last year's game. Is that something that kind of concerns you? Do you have to kind of strike a balance in kind of growing Tua's process in Year 1 and Year 2 of this system?) – "No, I think you have to take every play independent of itself. I think I'm very careful to go into the ins and outs of each play that happens because sometimes interceptions are good in practice. Sometimes they're only good if you don't do that again, but each individual one is – part of the reason those are occurring is because he's pressing himself to be the very best version of himself. He probably made 10 plays yesterday that were absolutely fantastic doing the same thing. So it's not as easy as, and I think it's important to emphasize that you have to take each one individually. I would be upset if he was unprepared, if he didn't really think about it, or if it's something that he just went rogue and went outside of a progression. If he's trying new things within the timing of the play, there's going to be some residuals when you're trying to be the best version of yourself. He's trying to take his game to another level so I was pumped for the learning process."
(Is there a player in the secondary that has emerged since CB Jalen Ramsey got hurt that's impressed you?) – "You know, a lot of guys have. You've seen how there's been a significant amount of new roster additions getting a ton of playing time. I do think the versatility of Kader (Kohou) has really shown out. There's been some different, I don't know, personnel sets where guys have been able to be a little more versatile, like Elijah (Campbell). Overall, it's cool because every single day, as you guys have heard me talk at length, I enjoy the process of getting better. We have the right guys here and there's a lot of new guys to the system. Every single day, someone will come up with me, make another play. Just like Eli Apple did his first day that he was here. So that development is ongoing, but overall the secondary is doing a good job getting better every day."