Read the full transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on August 21, 2023.
(I'm looking for an update on RB De'Von Achane, what can you tell us about how he's doing?) – "Good, week to week. He was playing hard and had a defensive lineman's body weight fall on top of him. But he's good and avoided anything severe."
(Do you expect RB De'Von Achane Week 1? And if not, does that change your thinking with the 53-man roster at running back?) – "I don't really look at it like – Week 1 is how many days away? 20? I see him week to week. I guess seven is divisible by 20 twice, I think that far out, I'm not really worried about it being an issue. I'm more worried about how he's going to look at the end of this week and the beginning of next. That's kind of the timeline for him."
(How about TE Eric Saubert and OL Robert Jones?) – "Both of those guys were having an excellent camp. I think they put their best foot forward. It's always rough when guys come down with injuries during a game. I think Robert Jones should be a little longer I would say, but both of them are pretty much in the midst of beginning a rehabilitation process that could take more than a week or two."
(I wanted to ask about DT Christian Wilkins obviously not participating in team drills. I know you've said you've been in constant contact with him. Is this something that you're concerned at all could spill into the regular season?) – "I really haven't even concerned myself with that. It's something that when Christian tells me he is ready to go, he'll be ready to go. I'm not worried about anything other than the guys on the practice field each and every day. Very hopeful that things work themselves out, but it's also I try to stay in my lane with coaching the player. I will say he's been absolutely demolishing individual work."
(OL Liam Eichenberg, an update on his status? Also at left guard, what you've saw from OL Isaiah Wynn in the game?) – "We had to kind of hold Liam back. He was determined but didn't think it was fair from an evaluation standpoint to put him out there, to try to protect him from himself. He'll be chomping at the bit this week to get reps as he should. We'll make sure that we don't do anything on our side that we can prevent from him having any further issues. I thought Isaiah got his feet wet in the system to a degree. I think he did a real good job trying to attack our techniques, and there is stuff he wants to improve upon. That's the whole evaluation process in general. Just like a game doesn't end after the third quarter, I think right now you're taking the game tape and you're applying the pros and cons, trying to build on the real good stuff that he did and trying to improve upon the stuff that he knows he can do better. Then we'll evaluate that week, or this week as it would be, and what he's able to do in the game moving forward. It was an important piece, and I can't emphasis piece more. The good games were had by many players, and you want to see what they do with that moving forward. The whole key, like a football team, is you need to be you best at the end of the season, so you have to be a player that continues to progress week to week, and we get better as the season progresses."
(I wanted to ask you about QB Mike White. There's a report he's in the concussion protocol. Is that accurate? And if so, what does that do to your planning for exhibition game No. 3 now that you're possible down to possibly two quarterbacks?) – "Yes, Mike White is in the concussion protocol. During the game, some staff members noticed some irregularities. So that whole process began, and I was just told during the game that he was not available. That will always be the case; once you enter the protocol, I don't really have – that's kind of outside my planning so to speak. The good news is, as you guys have painfully been made well aware, I don't get ahead of myself in terms of planning and how guys are going to play in regular season or in the preseason games until the work week is done. So we'll move forward. We'll end up signing QB James Blackman and be taking reps and evaluate those things as they get close to the game. But right now, we'll have three available quarterbacks; Tua (Tagovailoa), Skylar (Thompson) and James."
(I had a specific question about the film regarding the first offensive line combination and their execution in the running game on Saturday, your thoughts there? Then just kind of generally speaking, how you think the second year in the system has benefited a group that has so many incumbents from the first year here?) – "I think you're starting to see some of the stuff that I've talked to you guys about since Day 1, that what we're trying to do up front and specifically with the run game is demanding and it's very particular to a certain degree of technicalities of really physical fundamentals that are different than a lot of guys do in the past. That's a process and you don't just get to where you want in a week, a month, sometimes a season. A lot of times it takes a couple years of development of a whole group to get it to where you want. I think our starting group really took a step forward from that game. There are guys that are in position battles that did good things and bad things – it's all part of the process. I think that we are starting to exhibit some of the stuff that I really hoped we would this offseason. It's kind of really met close to where I was hoping we'd be to this point. What does that mean? It means you're in the process where you'd like to be, but it's not where you want to go. So I thought that there are some real positives that is direct correlation with complete and utter commitment by the coaching staff and in the players. I think you're starting to see some flashes of what we think we can be. But again, it was great work all week going against different type of technique and different front. And as a result, we did some good things in the game on Saturday, and there's some definite things that we can improve upon that we'll be focusing on as we progress."
(I wanted to get back to the run game very quickly, you guys gained the 205 yards with no fullback. How did the tight ends do blocking? Is there a significance to doing that without a fullback that the execution and you get to hold something back for the Chargers maybe?)– "There were some cool things. That position is really at the point of attack a lot of times in what we do in the run game, and I thought the tight ends utilized the opportunity to do some things from tight ends positions. We had them in the in the backfield as fullback sometimes, and it was something that that group wouldn't have been able to do three weeks ago, I don't think, in its entirety, so therein lies a success by itself. The fact that they were able to go out and do some cool things, I think we have some good players that have skills that we can really utilize in this offense that historically found ways to kind of utilize their skillsets. Guys are starting to kind of feel what those are within the offense, making some plays in the run game and the pass game. So they're a huge part in what we do offensively, that sometimes relates to big box scores, sometimes it doesn't. But it's a very, very critical position that I thought some guys that we really believe in, whether they are vested veterans or young players that are rookies in the NFL, I thought they all contributed to the offense, which is one of the reasons we were able to have some success."
(What messages or expectations do you plan on telling the team this week before they step on the field for this final preseason game? And how has the process been for you, understanding that it's just one cut this year instead of on the typical three?) – "Well, I think that you don't hide from what is on a lot of people's minds, and that's whether you're hoping for a position on the 53, whether you're hoping for a practice squad, whether you're hoping to be a starter. A lot of these things, we've been really working at for an extended period of time, so you want to do right by all of that work and put your best foot forward knowing that there's a finite timeline. I think that our team really is doing a lot of things that you hope, or a lot of things that are necessary for our team to be good. That's a daily assessment of where they're at and worried about that individual day and not getting ahead of themselves. So we have three practices this week, and each practice, each day, that's all I'll be focused on, because it's a huge piece. It's not the only piece. There's also all the stuff that they put into it, but you don't want to go into this final preseason game doing anything other than playing your best football within your responsibilities that you've been invested in since Day 1. So the first thing that will be on the board to the whole team is Tuesday. When I talk to them tomorrow morning, I'll be focused 100% on that and what guys have an opportunity to do that day, because every rep is critical, just like every rep at the beginning of the camp is critical. They all have a hand in their ultimate roles on this team and then in the NFL moving forward by their daily input and what they're able to do with their day-to-day practices, reps, moments, all those things come into play. So Tuesday will be an important day, and then we'll be followed probably by a Wednesday that's very important as well."
(My friend Hal Habib told me earlier that tomorrow's Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio's 65th birthday and I look forward to wishing him happy birthday in person. I am wondering, considering all the many years of experience that he has, how has he and his approach to coaching fit in, meshed and benefited both the staff and the players?) – Yeah, it's exciting. I think, a 65th birthday, I'm excited, I hope that I will have one. Because I'm not sure for all your history buffs but Social Security starts at 65, right? Well, that was enacted in the New Deal, I believe, when that was the life expectancy for human beings. So hey man, killing it. I'm fired up for him. (laughter) I think that Vic has been absolutely phenomenal for the players, coaches and organization. It kind of fits exactly with what I saw from the beginning. I saw a lot of synergy (with) him and I, ironically. I think a lot of people are like, 'Huh,' when I say that, but the way we approach football, the way that that our fundamental philosophies of how to teach accountability towards the player and then in the requisite, accountability necessary from players to do what we're asking them to do, the commitment to absolutely the best fundamentals and technique that you yourself can really come up with over a lifetime of football. He's delivered on that tenfold. I think that it's been cool to offset, we have quite different musical tastes. So sometimes I incorporate some of his music into team meeting situations – I promise you the players know exactly who's musical tastes those are when they're being played, but I think that's important to have. It just kind of speaks to the broader scope and vision of what this organization can be which is cut from many different cloths – there's one sole commitment and that's to winning football games and really empowering players with the best tools that they can have. So I think that embodies that and pretty much if it isn't already obvious, Vic Fangio and myself, we're the same guy."
(Two guys that I wanted to ask for just kind of relative updates are RB Myles Gaskin and FB Alec Ingold. I don't think we've seen RB Myles Gaskin since the first preseason game and FB Alec Ingold since the joint practice. Do of you have a general timeline on those guys? Big picture, just how difficult will the mounting injuries make 53-man roster cuts, because obviously, there's a lot of juggling with guys who are on PUP who are probably going to start on IR and whatnot?) – "I've been fortunate since I've been on the job there's been a lot of juggling, and I anticipate there always being a lot of juggling, so I'm comfortable in that. Both Myles and Alec are on the very close side of being able to participate in football again, so I expect to see them sooner rather than later. Injuries are something that you're always having to juggle. That can dictate the terms of how many practice reps you're able to take, depending on how many available players you have. But on a roster like this, I think that what it's done is really enabled some people to get some opportunities to showcase some skills while people have been injured. I think it's a harder thing on teams that don't have as much depth as we do, because then the disparity between one guy and the next can really have a trickle-down effect to what you're able to do either offensively, defensively or from a special teams standpoint. It hasn't inhibited our ability to do really anything. We have a ton of decisions to make that you want to be made on the field. When certain people aren't on the field, other players get an opportunity, and there's been some guys that have definitely taken advantage of that. In this situation, 2023 with the Miami Dolphins, it's just giving opportunities to guys that we need to see to make the right decision for the Miami Dolphins."
(For bookkeeping purposes, was the plan to get QB Mike White some snaps after QB Skylar Thompson in the game, had his situation not surfaced?) – "He was going to get reps. We had them split to kind of equal it out from the previous game. When he was in, he was going to be in for the duration, and then plans quickly changed. So you just adjust like all football teams have to, but yeah, we were planning on getting him some snaps in the game."