Read the full transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on December 1, 2023.
(With S Jevon Holland, if you could please give us a little clarity. We know he injured one knee against the Jets. How did he injure the other knee and is he going to be able to play Sunday?) – "Same play. It was one of those unfortunate things that him cplaying at a very high level and playing fast, that happened. He's been aggressively going after his rehab. He knows right know that he's playing the best ball of his career and when players are in those situations, they definitely are as eager as they ever are to play. With Jevon, we have to be very smart knowing really what he means to our team as a leader, as a player, and what he's able to do in our scheme. We'll be assessing him. I will be very cautious and not afraid to be the patient, wise one, if it makes sense. However, I first let players tell me with the best way they can speak, which is through seeing them as opposed to what they say. I'll be watching him closely. We'll be communicating and if he's not vulnerable to setbacks, he'll be out there. If he's not quite ready, we'll wait another week. But I'm very happy how he's responded this week from those issues."
(Any update you can give us on T Kendall Lamm and T Terron Armstead there for left tackle?) – "They'll both be practicing today, and we'll be assessing that. This week in particular, it seems like there's more of those situations where we're kind of having to go all the way down to the wire to kind of feel things out. It's not something that surprises you once you start entering into December. For this team, I think we are fortunate, I guess, in having these reps. I think in situations like this, your training from all the way back in April really shows through. I think these are times down the stretch of the season, in my mind, why we put such an emphasis in the Spring and training camp because it's inevitable with the rigors of the NFL season, there's going to be situations where your guys are going to have to be healing during prep week to be able to put their best foot forward on Sunday. Quite honestly, I wouldn't bet any scenario with either one of them just because I wouldn't want to lose the money because I have no freaking idea. I think the collective group has gotten to a comfortable place. It comes down to their commitment and Butch (Barry) and Frank (Smith) and Lem (Lemuel Jeanpierre) and all the guys working tirelessly over the long haul that allows us to kind of be comfortable and operate as an offense even with those unknowns. I know one thing. There will be a left tackle that will be majoring in blocking on Sunday. What number that is, we'll see. But they'll both be practicing today and we'll assess."
(How about RB De'Von Achane?) – "He's playing."
(And OL Robert Hunt?) – "I don't know on Rob Hunt, but optimistic. Good week of practice."
(There are many, many OL Isaiah Wynn fans out there and they've all been asking us is there a chance, is there a realistic chance that in January he might play a game for the Miami Dolphins? Or was the quad injury such that you have no expectations that he will be able to come back this year?) – "He is in a category for me where I'm letting the timeline play out. It's really not on my radar. That's not because it's inconceivable. It's more because I don't want him to instigate a setback by arbitrarily – he's doing a great job. I hung out with him a little bit in the weight room while I wasn't lifting weights yesterday, and he's in good spirits and diligently working. As far as those possibilities, I'm not thinking about it. That doesn't mean it's not a possibility. It's just that, I don't think that renders the best results for him. He's diligently working and we'll consider that when it gets a little bit closer if it does. But I can't say yes, I can't say no, really."
(I feel like we've asked you versions of this question in the past. But now that we're at the same point last year at 8-3 going into December, it's worth refreshing. How do you think the experience is from this time last year, last December, then also what's transpired this season, prepared you for what's to come here in these important games coming up?) – "I have really two things to kind of set my feeling towards what you're speaking of. (We were) 8-3 last year and you go through something that's very, very difficult, which is having to fight in the last game to even get in the playoffs when at 8-3, that's not really what's on your mind. So you're very interested in how people use that. For me, it falls right into the way I look at how to do everything, which is, for us to say that's a bad thing or a good thing, it has to do with how we respond to it. I have two examples. That's Wednesday's practice and Thursday's practice. Those lend me to believe that we have a committed football team to make right those lessons learned last year, to make that last year actually purposeful, as opposed to just we let opportunities slip through our fingers. We possibly could have had a home playoff game and we messed that year up. I felt this week with the players that that hurt cut deep, deep enough that there's a completely different mindset this practice Wednesday and this practice Thursday. Night and day difference from last year. And that's what you want. If you're going to go through it, you want it to be of some purpose. I see a team that understands what it means to build during the season, to continue the growth as a team so that we're our best version of ourselves when it matters most. I see a team that is excited to play together. I see a team that is used to the spotlight or the headlines and that isn't enamored by that. I see a team that takes the Washington Commanders as serious as every other team that we've played this year and a team that's excited to go compete against them. And that's the only thing on their mind. I'm very proud of where our team's at because our team is connected to each other, plays hard for each other, invests in the responsibilities for one another, so that they can truly take advantage of each and every Sunday, which, we only have a finite amount. Each one of them is very special. There's a lot of people that pay really, really good money to come watch us do what we do and this team seems to not take any of that for granted, which gives you the opportunity to be your best self, which is all that I care about."
(This is going to be QB Tua Tagovailoa's 12th game in a row. It's the longest stretch of games he's played in his NFL career. And when you consider the work he did this offseason to make sure his body was ready for a full season, what have you noticed about your quarterback's physical nature over the past couple months?) – "You're always happy when people get results from diligently working at something, whatever it is. So you go and attack what you can control in the midst of a ton of narrative about yes you can, no you can't, all this other stuff. He worries about one thing, and that's alright, well what's the problem? Staying on the field. What can I do to fix it? And that's all he worries about. It doesn't surprise me that we're in the position we're in at this point in the season where he's played 12 games in a row because I've never seen someone attack an offseason with that much – it's not a chip on the shoulder, he was just so motivated to control what he can control. So motivated. So, it doesn't surprise me. I think the results speak for themselves in that way. Football is a game where you can't predict really anything that's going to happen, but you can control certain things. I think he's done an unbelievable job of that. Just really proud and happy that we're at this position in the season with him playing 12 games in a row because I know how much he directly has to do with it. And it wasn't an easy position for him to be in. But what he did do is take himself as a man, as a player, to a different level within that commitment. It affects everyone. I think his confidence with his ability to stay healthy, guys can feel (that). We're just very fortunate that our quarterback is wired the way he is from a mental standpoint because I'm not sure if you guys are placing side bets, but there's a lot of people that were betting against him. He knew that and as a result, he gets better from everything good, bad or indifferent."
(I wanted to ask you about Washington Head Coach Ron Rivera. Is it difficult going against a coach that is rumored to be on the way out and it's the only Latino coach and one of the few minorities in the NFL?) – "Rumors. To be honest, to survive in the National Football League, for me at least, rumors don't exist. We're in a tough business that there's a lot of people that would love to have the opportunities we have. As coaches, everybody knows that gets into it that you can hear rumors when things aren't going well and you'll get a lot of high fives when they are. The bottom line is when I see a team that their players are playing hard week in and week out, things haven't totally gone their way as they would expect I would assume for the entirety of the season, but I don't see players wavering. That speaks everything to me about who coaches are. I see a team that plays really hard for their coaches, that believes they have the right people. If I'm thinking about anything but how to prepare our guys for this opponent, you're kind of wishing results that you don't want upon yourself. I have a ton of respect for him as a coach. He's been doing this at a high level for a long time. I've gone against him when he was in Carolina or this game, so I know they're going to bring their best. He's going to be as prepared as anyone and if we for a second look at this team as anything other than an opponent that really wants to beat us, we're going to be setting ourselves up for failure. So I see a football team that can beat whatever team they play each and every week. And they'll do that to us if we allow that."
(Have you ever shot the free throw or three-pointer on the hoop in the team meeting room? How good are you? Who do you think's the best shooter on the team that you've seen?) – "It really hurts my ability to sarcastically talk (expletive) if I participate. I feel like I can relate to you guys on like, you should make that shot. I don't take the shot and then judge people for that. So I'm really outclassed athletically at all times in my profession. I know that and lean into it. You're not going to see me participating, but I definitely have opinions on who's the best shooter. And that's the great thing about being a head coach, you can just be like, 'Yeah I would dunk on you and you're going to have to take my word for it.' (laughter) That's kind of how I operate. But the guys get pretty competitive in there. No one's even asked me to take shots to be honest. Let's keep it that way, alright? We don't need that. (laughter) The way that I look at it is they're not going to listen to a guy with a broke jump shot. So I'll just tell them that it's good and hopefully they believe me."