Read the full transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022.
(I had a two-part question. First thing was with OL Michael Deiter, do we know if he'll be ready for the regular season or is it a long-term thing? My second question, one thing we don't yet know about you as a head coach, we saw something last night that made me think of this. You're probably aware WR Preston Williams tweeted "Just want an opportunity, shaking my head." When a player who wants more chances at practice does something like that, do you say something to the player? Do you let it slide? Do you throw him more passes? Do you bake him a cake? What's your reaction in general when a guy says something like that?) – "Wait, so those are two separate questions, right?"
(They are, so I'm going to pay more in the piggy bank.) – "Alright, so can we go back to the first question? OK, here. To best organize this efficiently, you have two questions. First question."
(OL Michael Deiter, is he out long term, or will he be ready…) – "I don't have concern right now with the information that we have about the regular season. So we'll just let the week play out and see where he's at at the beginning of next week. Next question was?"
(On WR Preston Williams with his tweet about just wanting an opportunity. What's your philosophy as a head coach? Do you say something to him and say this is not a good idea? Or do you just let it slide? Does it affect how many passes you throw him?) – "There are – the most pressing needs of the football team – I don't necessarily see within social media. So I don't prioritize that necessarily. I do, however, prioritize opportunities for players to follow their dreams. One of the things that (Wide Receivers Coach) Wes Welker and I strongly connect on from our journeys, which were the exact same – we were the same athlete by the way (laughter) – is that we hold with a lot of esteem and responsibility preparing people and giving them opportunities. It's also the – really looking to the players, too, to understand that every time they're on the field, the way we do things, it's a tremendous opportunity for them as well as their teammates who they're depending on to execute and operate at a high standard. I wouldn't – people care. People want to do good, so I get that and I don't really hold much weight to all of that."
(There was a lot of talk around the league this weekend about guardian caps and the usefulness and if they're so important, why they do we only wear them for a couple of weeks and are they leading to bad habits. Do you have any stance on it? What do you see from the usage of them? Are guys using them the right way? Do you see the value from…?) – "Once things become mandate, I try not to let things occupy my brain space, whether or not it's the value of it. It makes sense – it makes sense to me in preparation why it became a mandate, so I don't really operate outside of that debate just because that's kind of a wasted brain space for me and for the players. So it's rule, you're going to wear them, so I don't really have a feeling pro or against because of that."
(How is WR Erik Ezukanma doing?) – "The rookie – the strife of a rookie in the National Football League is so often underestimated and understated. You have to realize that grown men who have been playing NFL seasons for an extended period of time that have been making a living for their family and doing so within the confines of a certain scheme, that is a lot of ground to make up when you enter the league as a rookie. So I'll start by saying all players, really, by and large, the biggest thing is getting better all the time. You're not staying stagnant. It's not if but when you make mistakes, how do you correct them? Rookies especially, I try not to get ahead of myself and look at, 'Well, he can do X, Y or Z in a month when the regular season starts.' It's specifically and it's no more truer than for rookies, are they improving on things? Are they making the same mistake twice? That's one exciting thing about Erik, is that he is learning a completely new language at a different speed and temp. The rookie trials are hilarious, I don't know why it's not talked about more. The speed of the game, the pass rush, you don't have much time – the quarterback doesn't have that much time to operate in the NFL game and nine times out of 10, every rookie receiver that starts minicamp, every single year lines up like four yards off the ball when they're off the ball. It's like, that shows you how far they have to come, so it is a tough thing to accomplish, to be able to, in a short period of time. But I've been very encouraged with how he's handled himself and corrected things. The mistakes are changing, they're not the same ones and that's what you want. So I'm, happy about that."
(Pads come on today, how much does that give you a real sense of the run games with more physical blocking in practice?) – "So pads are obviously a big deal, it's a big part of football. But one thing that I stress to the team this offseason that I truly believe is that if you practice the right way without pads, it's less significant when they come on. That doesn't mean they're not significant; it minimizes how significant it is. I'm very happy with how we practiced without pads, because we deliberately approach it as though we would have it. You put yourself in position to either block or tackle, obviously, it's not the same and you can't deliver on the force as much. So it is a very valuable thing. I would have been disappointed if I would have really been eager for the pads to come on. Like 'Wow, we really can get a look at this.' I would have been disappointed. The players have really owned how they've practiced without pads, so I'm excited but it's just another step in the process. There are some valuable run-game trench stuff that comes from the backs being able to brace contact. That's super valuable. So yes, it does help evaluate the run game from blocking stuff. I don't expect it to change drastically because of the way that we've approached and attacked technique on both sides of the ball."
(Yesterday when we were talking with DT Raekwon Davis, he was mentioning how much better he feels having slimmed down and his quickness and so forth. I'm wondering what you see from him in that regard? Also last week, OL Austin Jackson was saying some of the same things. Were there many players that were asked to slim down for this training camp?) – "It was kind of a concerted effort by the coaching staff, both starting with (Offensive Coordinator) Frank Smith and (Defensive Coordinator) Josh Boyer, but trickling down to each and every position coach and their assistants that the idea is to show them a vision of what we want to be. On both sides of the ball in both retrospects, it behooves a player to be at the maximum athleticism – their maximum explosion, their maximum speed with flexibility, all of those things. We did, I think, a good job in the offseason kind of really painting that picture for them, and it's to the player's credit that they've said, 'You know what? I'm all into this. I'm all in for this. My career does mean something to me, and I don't want to have regrets after my career, saying what if I was X, Y or Z?' So that's the thing – it wasn't like a straight mandate you have to go and be this that or whatever. It was kind of a play on my firm belief that players, just like coaches, just like people, they want to be their best. So if you show them without a shadow of a doubt that X gets them to that spot, if they're the right type of people that you'd want to have on the team, they will respond and get to that point that best fits their physical prowess."
(The team announced it was going to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the undefeated 1972 team and obviously Larry Csonka spoke to you guys. I'm just curious as you kind of were growing up in the game just what did you know about the 1972 team, and now that you're a member of the organization, what have you learned about that team?) – "I remember vividly 11 years before I was in the womb. (laughter) No, who doesn't – you're talking every single year of my life, like clockwork. Chris Berman, ESPN, graphics – they evolved over time, but the champagne bottles pop – it's kind of in the narrative and that's what's unique about that team, is that it carries annual credence when everyone fails to duplicate what they did. So I think it also goes to show that particular team; one thing that I think is something that each and every player in the league and every team – but most importantly this team – understands is what one year and one team can do, the ramifications that can have for the rest of your life. That's the thing that's really overwhelming to me is these people are bonded forever. I was talking to Larry (Csonka) about some of his nonverbal communication with some of the people he played with on that team, how that's still present today. It's like the wife look like – or whatever. You can talk without talking. And how powerful and cool is that to ever be present in the moment in your life knowing that it's going to have residuals for the rest of it. I think that's something that we should be proud of as a team, that we understand and are proud to be coaching this team when we're celebrating it and to be able to be connected with them in one way, shape or form is a privilege to us that we do not take lightly."
(I did not mean to insinuate that you were born or alive during that time, by the way. Just making sure.) – "Yeah, I mean I thought I'd been aging all right, but… (laughter)"
(Along those lines, did you ever cross paths with Coach Shula?) – "I did not unfortunately, no. Obviously I wish I would have. It would have been an honor, but really there were a lot of years that I was a Broncos fan and I was like, 'wow, they're better than us.' (laughter) There were a lot of years that was occurring. But no I unfortunately did not."
(WR Tyreek Hill said earlier that him and WR Jaylen Waddle are the fastest duo in the NFL. First of all, obviously that's seen as a luxury having that much speed, but can you talk – are there any difficulties in scheming that up, having that much speed on the field?) – "It's kind of like the difficulties – the guy who has three yachts has deciding which yacht to pick. No, there's not difficulties with that. It's very desirable. We're very fortunate and whether – I think competitive players that are willing to go out and say, 'yeah, we're the fastest in the league,' – those are guys that are competitive that are willing and want to prove it. And regardless of skillset, you have players like that on your team and you feel pretty good about it. There's no – you don't need a shed a tear for our problems with our speed decisions, but to me I think – they talk about their speed a lot which is cool, but they're also fast football players that block, that do the things that teammates need to do. When they're called upon to be a fast electric decoy, they do that. I think that they're not fast guys, they're fast football players and that's the coolest part about them and why we don't really have issues."
(Speaking of Tyreek, do you agree that they're the fastest duo in NFL history?) – "I agree that I'm excited to see them prove one way or the other that being the case. (laughter) I'm definitely not going to say that they're not, but I'm definitely not going to say they are either. That's for them to prove, which they know and they're excited about, but that's for them to prove on Sundays."
(What was your reaction on QB Tua Tagovailoa's bomb to WR Tyreek Hill?) – "What was my reaction? My reaction was they did exactly what I told them to do. (laughter) No, that's not the first time and it won't be the last that they'll connect like that. I was pumped because the exciting part to me was that Tua did it at the appropriate time. He wasn't just throwing a long ball. He read the defense and that's what he felt and he did it with conviction. If you guys watch it, he did it in one-hitch timing which is kind of how we want the quarterback to do it, but the reaction was what's the next play because I think everyone would be disappointed if we were satisfied with that. That's what we're supposed to do when it's there and let's go execute the next play."
(Who has the fastest timed speed in training camp so far?) – "It's funny because every time that Tyreek (Hill) isn't the fastest guy on the practice field, I make a huge deal with the team. I build it up like, 'Tyreek, congratulations, man. You've been working so hard. You got third.' (laughter) 'Like, we're all so happy for you.' And he gets… but I did it enough where it pushed him to – Tyreek entered into the 23s (miles per hour) which you don't really see that often at practice and all this speed talk is just making him go faster, so write what you will."
(You've talked a lot about how you see your job as maximizing the dreams of everyone in the building. You're in the building, too. I'm curious what conditions do you feel help you to best maximize your dreams?) – "Honestly, I don't talk about it much, but the people that hired me – I'm talking about the owner Steve Ross, Chris Grier, Brandon Shore, Tom Garfinkel – and this atmosphere with everyone in this building provided the perfect atmosphere for me to be who I was. It was what kind of what was described to me they kind of needed and they knew when they were hiring me that they were hiring me and not some version copycat of somebody else, so I think this place more so than I've ever felt really in my career; I feel most at home, most myself, which is for anyone kind of speaks to the type of culture we're hoping to perpetuate. There's an attachment to that and there's a feeling that you can be your best self and get the most out of you in those types of situations."
(What's been the biggest adjustment for you personally going from offensive coordinator to head coach in training camp?) – "I mean, there's been no adjustment. (laughter) The biggest adjustment – I'm very conscientious of the people that I don't get to have heavy discourse with on a day-to-day basis, but who still their days are affected by how I treat them. So as an offensive coordinator, I think you can get a little more cerebral and focused and introverted with conceptual things, football X's and O's. And as a head coach, I think it's very important that you don't lose yourself within yourself in that way because somebody passes your office in the hallway and you are thinking about something, you just give them a little nod and that's out of character of how you usually address them, now you've just negatively impacted their day for the rest of it which isn't – to me, that's not me doing a good job. My job is to maximize, not to ever inhibit. So that is a change. I've been fortunate to see a lot of people do that at a high level and have been on the other end of it, but it is something that I have to be mindful of every day. Otherwise I'll be mad at myself and none of us want that."