Read the full transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on August 19, 2023.
On what was going through is mind on QB Tua Tagovailoa's first interception
"You know, I told him before the game, I did not expect him to play that long but if adversity comes our way, to seize it, and he took it extremely literal. To me, it's like, 'Alright, perfect. What are you going to do?' I think it was so valuable because it was the first play, and he came back as I would expect, but the rep – he had already put himself there before. What happens when that happens? It was on a play that he's had a lot of success with, and he threw a pick. We got behind the sticks, and I think we had like a 14 or 15-play drive that was critical with three or four third downs on it. That is exactly what preseason is for, that's why you want somebody to play. I'm glad he got it out of the way. But more importantly, the team didn't blink. The team had a pretty short field to defend, and what a momentum swing that is when your defense can come up and not bat an eye, hold a team to not have points and then progress from there. I was happy with the way the team responded to that."
On his thoughts on QB Tua Tagovailoa's performance and how he handled taking hits
"I mean, it was – it's not if, but when. These are things that you prepare for. I didn't feel anything except that it was a – I wasn't imagining his first play that he was going to tackle somebody on it, but he's as prepared as one can be. So, I'm not – if I was surprised that it happened and/or – if I was surprised, I would have my eyes blindfolded and earplugs in my ears. That happens as a part of football, and you have to prepare for that, which he does.:
On what led to the 200-yard rushing performance from the team
"You know, I think there's a lot of individual effort. There's inches in the game of football. Especially with a penetrating front like Houston has, you have to be on your P's and Q's, a lot of people have to execute things, and then people have to make plays when the opportunity is there. So, I think starting with the offensive line, the tight end group, and the receivers all blocked – and we had some ballcarriers make plays in tight windows. It's cool for guys to get rewarded for all the work that goes on unseen."
On how rewarding was it to see RB Salvon Ahmed do what he did
"It didn't surprise me at all, but I'm very happy for him because he's the consummate pro that focuses on the right things, which is when my opportunity is there, to make the most of it. When you have that type of mindset, that enables you to be the best version of yourself and take advantage of the opportunities when they do come. I was happy for him to just really seize the moment and do some good things running the ball and in the receiving game."
On his thoughts on QB Skylar Thompson
"I thought Skylar [Thompson] did a great job handling everything. That's what you want to see is you want to see from him how fast he was getting in and out of the huddle. You could tell it was an emphasis from him as well as it was for me, and he didn't get bogged down with a play. There were some plays that he'd want back, but then he continued to press forward and try to make some plays, and I think he did a great job of that, some on-schedule, some off-schedule, and the key will be to go watch the tape and get better from that moving forward."
On how he foresees the third preseason game with respect to snap counts for the quarterbacks
"Well, I just think you have to balance opportunities, and there's so many compounding variables with opportunities. You get playing time, but who are the eligibles? Who's the offensive line? You want it to be settled on the field, and it doesn't just go into game performance. It's game performance on things that – there's a lot of times I'm calling plays for them less concerned about the defense, and like, 'Hey, we rep this play, we talked about it at length, and I want to see what he does,' those type of things. You just try to balance that stuff out across the board with every position."
On the status of LT Terron Armstead
"He's doing well. Optimistic. We avoided anything too substantial in terms of a timeline. I'm not really worried about it. I'm just worried about him getting right as fast as possible, which I know he'll do."
Have you been told anything about RB De'Von Achane or OL Rob Jones?
"I think (De'Von) Achane is a shoulder, we'll find more out tomorrow. Rob Jones, we'll find some more out tomorrow, too, I believe. It's a lower extremity. But they're going to find a lot more information with imaging."
On what he likes about the defensive unit
"I think it's held true to what collectively the coaching staff headed by (Defensive Coordinator) Vic (Fangio) and the defense in general as a group of people, they want to continue to progress and get better. There's a big part of playing defense that as a team we talk about a ton that is yards are cool, but they have to get in the end zone, and being that mindset is kind of very similar to that of the team's mindset with adversity. Sometimes you'll give stuff up – don't worry about it. You finish, they don't. That's what you're trying to get done. Yeah, it's always fun when defensive units are getting better in a real way, not because of anything, but their details, their technique and their fundamentals."
On if OL Lester Cotton is dealing with an injury
"Yeah, he had something minor. He probably – like if we were – he wanted to go, but I didn't think it was fair to him to gut through something and the potential of having tape put out there that's not a reflection of how he's been playing. So we held him out. But he wants to get on the field in the worst way, and we'll be excited for that."
On what he thinks this win meant for QB Tua Tagovailoa
"I think you're highlighting a great point. I think he's finding himself as a man, and he is doing it alongside teammates. I think that when you've been doing something for that long, you're just enjoying the process day-in, day-out. He is so comfortable in his skin and his zest for life is so strong, now as a father and a husband and a quarterback. He is enjoying – he's worrying about the right stuff. Like you throw a pick first play, that's not ideal, but you focus on 'OK, well, most people might let that linger and have an effect on how you approach everything else. As a competitor, I'm going to try to not have that be the case.' I think all of that fits within him and his development and where he's at, and I'm excited to see him every day. He's got a really cool new tattoo, so that's cool, too."
Do you approach this game as sort of a dress rehearsal of the preseason?
"No, I literally didn't even decide who was going to play until, you guys will believe me at some point, like literally the day before because it made sense. Then I felt like the team – a lot of guys needed tape. They needed a game to do good or bad – doesn't matter – but you're practicing for so long, they were ready for that. There's something we're trying to get done every single time we're able to go on the field, whether it's practice or preseason game, whether or not certain guys play will be our educated best guess as to what helps and what hurts people moving forward. There may be less, there may be more. We'll see how the week progresses, how we are health-wise and what guys need to do to best prepare for the regular season."