Read the full transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on August 9, 2023.
(Any update on WR Braylon Sanders? Hopefully not too serious, but do you know if it's long-term yet with his leg injury?) – "No, we were fortunate. It was a lower body injury that didn't produce any structural damage. So fortunately, I expect him back – not today or tomorrow – but in the foreseeable future. Hopefully next week or something like that. But we'll see how it goes."
(How is QB Mike White doing? Is he the likely starter for the next Dolphins games?) – "Is the game today? He's had a real cool couple of weeks, just getting used to everything. The quarterback position, you're in charge of the ball every play, and you have to tell everyone their assignment. There's a lot that goes into that which is one of the numerous reasons that I reserve judgement, because I'm such a level-minded adult, mature guy. With him, his personality off the bat, he exuded quarterback confidence and really developed relationships with his teammates. You've seen a steady progression of more and more plays and more and more confidence to operate within the timing of our specific offense. He's doing a good job. As it relates to the preseason game, there's still a hearty practice today, and again, I like to let the players determine things on the field. Whoever does play before the other player in the preseason game from the quarterback position, that won't suggest that that person is going to be Tua's backup. It will be based upon the reps, opportunities, what we think is best for the guys. Then in true competition form, it will probably flop the next week."
(After watching the film or video, what did you think of your offense yesterday in practice? What did you like? What would you like to see improved today?) – "If the goal is average, then I was super pumped. I really like joint practices for the sake of I want everyone's best effort. The tricky thing about it is, and as I've learned over the course of my career, what if the offense had the greatest practice in the history of all practices? Or the opposite happens, it's the worst practice – what does that mean for today? And that's kind of my point is there was stuff that irritated me, there was stuff that pumped me up. We did physically strain through some heat against a new opponent. The main focus to me is was that practice purposeful? How do you make it purposeful? Your approach today and it's not the same mistakes. We had procedural penalties. I'm hoping to not have any today. If we have some, as long as it's not the guys that did it the day before, I can work with that. It's when yesterday was a waste, then it's a bigger issue. I was happy that we worked for where we're trying to go. I shouldn't be really happy with any practice in terms of 'Ok, we're good.' It's not like that. Last year, Philly is a great example. We practiced against Philly, and that was the first time offensively that I think that we felt all 11 people executing simultaneously. No one scores a practice, but if you guys were to say, 'Hey, they won that day,' it wouldn't sound crazy. The Eagles went to the Super Bowl. We did not. But that was a very important practice for us because it was the first time that we clicked, I thought, and it led into the first drive of the preseason game. So yesterday, I like the fact that guys were straining and very annoyed at the result. That means we're in a good spot. I'm just going to keep going for the next half hour. So anyway, yes, today's practice is more important than last."
(Along those lines, when you look at Year 1 and Year 2, I don't know if you want to characterize it as growing pains or whatever, but compared to the previous teams that you've been on kind of grow from Year 1 to Year 2, do you feel like this offense is kind of on a similar pace? Are they behind? Are they ahead of schedule? How would you characterize them?) – "I think in Year 2, relative to other teams I've been on, I would say overall, I'm happy with it, so it's somewhere close to what I was hoping for. Again, that means that last year, there was a lot of – you almost needed an interpreter because the language, it was hard to kind of communicate within our own language. Some of the overall philosophical details of technique we were having to sell on guys. Now they can answer the test. Now they know when it's not good enough. Now they have an expectation. I would say I'm very pleased with where we're at right now, it's just an incomplete story. In terms of being from Year 1 to Year 2, I expect it to be much better. I feel like it is. But that means nothing if we just take steps backwards for the next two weeks."
(Going back to the procedural thing for a second. I'm sure it drives fans crazy. I'm sure it must drive coaches crazy. Beyond the obvious, "Wait for the snap," telling players that, what are some maybe unseen things, not so obvious things, that you can do to alleviate those kinds of things?) – "Well, you have to – the non-obvious things is you have to create atmospheres where they're in conflict of complete immersion into their plan for the play and adhering to the No. 1 most fundamental part of being a part of an offense. So it's that conviction in assignment, that competitiveness, because that's what – nobody wants to jump offsides. We couldn't have emphasized it more this offseason in terms of, 'This is what it is, the facts are the facts. You're the worst. I'm the worst.' (laughter) That's what it is. So every time we false start, everyone is like – it's not something that people are very comfortable with or pumped about. The point is to figure out the whys behind it and generally, across the board, the guy that false starts wasn't about to execute a lazy play. So we have to continue to do that. I show it in front of the team, and no one's fired up about it. You pride yourself as a coach to produce a clean product for the fans to watch, and our objective is to go forward, not backward, in a non-competitive manner. So that focus, 'Hey, you want to be good?' All this work we do, you try to put it in that perspective, but we're very aware that we're on the heels of being the worst. That's not acceptable. We'll continue to work through it. There are days that are good, but it doesn't matter if there are quarters that are good if you're false starting three times in the fourth quarter. So it's something we'll continue to get work at and it's not going to go away. As long as you guys have your eyes open, you'll be able to see how we're doing."
(I'm sure there are a lot of things you have to do better than spending time on Twitter, but last night, there was a back and forth between…) – "What's Twitter?"
(X, I believe it's called now.) – "Oh, ok, yes. What was that?"
(CB Jalen Ramsey and David Chao, formerly of the Chargers, had a back and forth about Jalen. I think the quote was, "It's basically a tall task to ask Jalen Ramsey to ever be Jalen Ramsey again after that surgery. I wanted to get your reaction. I guess is the assumption whenever CB Jalen Ramsey does return that he'll be back to the player he was?) – "I would hesitate to boldly tell Jalen Ramsey what he's going to be. I don't think that's in his mind at all. In my profession, in my job, I don't have the time to look at X. I have bigger fish to fry. We're not even worried about what it looks like at the end. We're worried about appropriately handling the present because you stack that stuff up and those things will be determined by things that aren't mine, nor X, and whatever is going on there, that's outside of our control. I'm good with where he is at and I'm very happy that I saw him yesterday crutchless."
(What's your assessment on the competition at left guard right now? Do you view it as the one position that's still up in the air to determine that best five up front?) – "I think you have to earn certain things. I think we do have a good amount of NFL players that have the ability to play in the interior line. So competition brings out the best in everyone. I think that the people – that's really our objective every offseason is with the resources available, try to maximize that competition. I wouldn't say anything concrete except that we're fortunate to have some players worthy to compete to start an NFL football game, and not every team can say that. So I'm happy with the way the guys are attacking it. Specifically yesterday, there was some really good play at times from both guard positions on every little rep that we had. And then there were some plays that weren't that good. So it's a tremendous day today to go out and see how guys respond and those types of things are going to determine every position on the offense and defense, as it should be on the grass."
(Today is national book day. Other than the playbook, what is your favorite book to read?) – "Well that was kind of said under the guise that I re-read stuff. But my favorite book when you say it off the rip is 'Talent is Overrated.' I read it like in 2011, 2012 or 2013 – one of those. And 'Deliberate Practice.' Have you ever heard me say deliberate? Yeah, that's where I got it from. That's probably my favorite book."
(How do you balance – when you have these joint practices – testing out things you want to see in the offense, especially because it's predicated on timing so you get to practice against an opponent. How do you balance that without showing all of your cards?) – "It's something that you have to kind of be forward-thinking. I'm very aware of when we have fan days of technology. I'm very aware of stadium practices. I'm very aware of joint practices. There is a balance and for me, I'm less secretive than I think I would have thought I would have been early in my career, just because if the offense is constructed the right way, everything has a counter to it. So at this point, we have to get good at stuff. I probably hide less (now) but there's definitely stuff you don't want to put on tape, especially if you're ironing the kinks out of it. It's a fun balance but for the most part, we're just trying to create situations that are competitive within the offense that we do, with the idea being you get to evaluate guys and guys are put in difficult positions like a game, or hopefully more difficult positions."
(The running backs had some good moments yesterday. I'm wondering what your take is on that room right now and if there's any changes in the philosophy on how you might utilize them.) – "I really feel good about the whole running back room. The people and the players give us the capability to do a lot and to have fresh players on the field carrying the ball. Each dude has a different little niche within the offense but all of them know the entire offense and they're all capable of running the ball. Some guys have some pass skillsets that we can utilize and some guys have really developed their pass skillsets this offseason. I think there's strength in versatility. I think any time a defense is able to take something off their plate, in terms of variance, it gives them a more convicted way to defend, if you will. So I think those variables, when guys have the ability to do various things – run the ball, protect and run routes – it's a less easier matchup. It kind of dictates the terms sometimes for defensive personnel. The depth and the varied skills, I would say, are a strength of our team."
(We heard WR Tyreek Hill and WR Jaylen Waddle, I think yesterday, talk about the little internal competition in the wide receivers room. Like they're broken up into teams. I'm curious if that's something you've ever had on your teams before and how that kind of internal competition can help?) – "No, I haven't. And it's phenomenal. You have guys straining to compete. I just thought it was a really cool idea from the get-go. Rarely do you have two elite players in the same room like that. So instead of worrying about semantics that I can forecast – I haven't been around that before but semantics of things like greediness or I want X, Y or Z. I think it really showcases how we're going to use this, let's create teams, the leader of each team is probably going to get the most, but let's compete and see how collectively we can do something that's typically not thought of as a team. Like catches and receptions are an individual stat that they're now making a team (stat). I think that's exactly what you'd hope and want. Any competition is where you turn Tyreek to Cheetah. I think his teammates are learning that. And what does that do? That makes Jaylen Waddle better and the whole room better. I think we're benefitting from those results. They run a lot. They block. They're part of everything in the offense, so you better have an edge each and every day. If that helps them, if they want me to throw apples and oranges to them, I'll do that. Everything is on the table but I'm happy with that group and that culture that they're creating down there."