Read the full postgame transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022.
(Transcribed by ASAP Sports)
Q: Going scoreless the second half, three second-half interceptions by QB Tua Tagovailoa. Just what happened to the offense especially with those turnovers?
MIKE McDANIEL: Yeah, I thought it was unexpected. Did not foresee that happening. I felt strong coming out of halftime, just where our guys were at. I didn't foresee standing up here really in this situation. I know the team feels the same way. Apparently we needed another gut check, and we've got to — there were critical errors, turnovers. I mean, the percentages of winning games where you're — what were we, minus 3? You turn the ball over four times; yeah, you're not going to win the football game. I thought on top of all that, there was some uncharacteristic really, really controllable penalties that were absolutely devastating. It's hard to continually move the ball, and we weren't taking advantage of some of the situations in the first half as well because we were putting ourselves behind the 8-ball with controllable penalties. And then in the second half it was much of the same. It wasn't for a lack of effort, but there's just some things that, regardless of what people try to do, the mainstays of football, if you don't do right by alignments, you don't do right by protecting the football, these are the things that will happen. Our young team is having to learn the very, very hard way, and so nothing has really changed moving forward except for the fact that we were really expecting to cleanse ourselves of this feeling and we're going to have to wait another week to try to get right.
Q: A quick follow-up to that specifically on QB Tua Tagovailoa's interceptions, all three of them just seemed like kind of pitch and catch right to Green Bay. Was that communication issues or anything else that stood out on those three?
MIKE McDANIEL: We'll try to identify exactly what was going on and how we got to that place. It's one of those things that I want to be careful before speaking too absolute. It felt like it was situations where the ball just kind of got away from Tua, which is not characteristic for him by any means. He was executing at a pretty high level to start the game, and I don't know where that went, but that's something that him and I will really comb over, but it wasn't just that. There were some pass exclusive situations we kind of put ourselves in that really took us out of some of our run plan situations. We play our best ball when we're able to keep the defense on their toes in both phases, and when you're having those mishaps and then the defense gets paid, too; they were kind of compressing us in the second half, and I think those compounding variables really hurt the team's chances of winning the football game.
Q: You've spoken several times this season about how hard QB Tua Tagovailoa can be on himself, his own worst critic kind of thing. Given the three interceptions tonight, how much of a challenge do you have to make sure Tua's head is in the right place for the last two games?
MIKE McDANIEL: It's a challenge, but it's also something that every quarterback really goes through. It's kind of one of those necessary things that you have to really figure out how you don't let mistakes snowball and that's one of the reasons the approach and the way we've gone about things has been so intentional in that regard, because you can't let past influence the present. I think that there could be some portions of that that have to do with him kind of snowballing in his own mind, but he's such a strong individual that the good news is that I'm very confident that he'll be able to get through that. It's just that this team needs him. This team needs myself to make sure that all those situations are not putting him behind the 8-ball. And then the quarterback needs the rest of his team to be able to execute so that he doesn't have to do too much on his own. There was one of the interceptions that the primary receiver kind of busted, ran the wrong route, a concept that we ran numerous times this week, and so it's not just him. I'll look at the tape and have probably more concrete answers for you guys tomorrow, but overall, that is a team failure, not a one-person failure.
Q: And beyond QB Tua Tagovailoa what do you tell the team as a whole? Now this is four straight losses to not allow us to snowball you do still control your own fate?
MIKE McDANIEL: No, that's exactly what it is. Human nature is what you have to fight. It is very, very hard to put in as much as these guys put in and keep coming up short. I recognize it as kind of what you're looking for generally in life and in competitors and people, is you want people to not blink at situations that a lot of people would, and it's going to take a team that's really tight and close to not allow anyone to press and really have these situations manifest anything but improvement. We've been learning hard lessons for the last month of games, and at some point if we want to make the next step, we're going to have to put up or shut up. It is tough, but also nothing comes easy in this game, and the one thing I do know is if you're able to dig yourself out of it, it does benefit you in the next phase of the season because that's where you don't want to have wilting or snowballing of play or really not-clean football. Bottom line is it is what it is. What type of people are we and are we able to really get through this together, because there's no one else outside of that team meeting room that's going to come save us. We have to figure it out ourselves.
Q: Why has the team struggled over the past month to sustain drives from your perspective and make that in a way you getting too reliant on the big explosive play to score?
MIKE McDANIEL: It is tough to execute. I think in this particular game, I felt like it was sustaining really clean football because I felt like we did score on some big plays and we were moving the ball in other situations and we would convert 3rd downs, but it was really the self-inflicted wounds for this game that really cost us. I'm not sure if that was necessarily the case in the previous weeks. Definitely not to this magnitude. We just last week didn't have any turnovers. So to go from zero turnovers to four is going to impact the game in a grave way. I think those are two independent situations. Each game stands on its own merit really. I think this one in particular we learned again the value of possessing the ball, not giving it back. At this point in the year, if you don't play clean football and you have a team that's — to the credit of the Green Bay Packers, they had their moment during the season pretty similar to this, as well, and they found a way to clean that up and played a very good football game and didn't blink themselves. That's a lesson that we can take from them as we move forward.
Q: On the defense's final drive I think it was second-and-2 within the 10-yard line and DT John Jenkins jumped offsides. Was that on purpose and if so can you kind of explain the rationale and the thinking behind that?
MIKE McDANIEL: I think that situational football comes down to time, and second-and-2 and you're kind of assessing really how much time they have, how much time you have, and wanting to really make sure that you are clean with all the time. It was I think we were coming out of a timeout, it was second-and-2, so in those situations if you feel confident about being able to stop a team, I think we could get it before the two-minute warning if our math was correct. So in that situation we enable our players to really be aggressive and guess the snap count. So if it is anything but a quick snap, you probably will jump offsides, which gives you a first-and-10 on the stopped clock. If you do guess the snap count right, then hopefully you have penetration and you can move the ball back. That was one of those situations that we kind of enacted, which is why we — something that you probably wouldn't do if the clock wasn't already stopped and it wasn't in that four-to three-and-a-half-minute range.
Q: There was a situation early in the third quarter where Packers TE Marcedes Lewis caught a pass for 31 yards and it helped set up a touchdown. On the replays Mike Pereira on the telecast said that a challenge would have overturned that catch. What was the thinking there? Did you consider a challenge?
MIKE McDANIEL: Well, obviously I didn't get access, nor did the people upstairs really get access to the review in time. That's something that's standard operating procedure where especially in a game like that, you have to be right with your challenges because those timeouts are costly. If I would have received any sort of concrete information, I definitely would have thrown it, but from the coaches upstairs, they didn't receive clean information fast enough, nor did I. Unfortunately, hindsight is 20/20 on that one. Obviously I would have loved to challenge that had I gotten the information quick enough.