Read the transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Monday, December 26, 2022.
(Will LB Bradley Chubb and FB Alec Ingold be able to play through their hand injuries, the hand and the thumb and then also the thinking in sticking with OL Robert Jones yesterday instead of activating OL Liam Eichenberg?) – "With regard to injuries from the game, those two warriors – Alec (Ingold) and (Bradley) Chubb – will be casted and we'll see how they respond to that. That is kind of up in the air, but they played as long as they could and what they're capable of. And then we also placed Tua (Tagovailoa) in the concussion protocol. So then on top of that, Robert Jones as far as he is concerned, he's done a great job. And because of that, there's a lot of things that go into activation of IR and one of those is roster spots and we have a good amount of good players on the team, so it didn't make sense for us to go ahead and move on that early."
(Someone posted a video suggesting that QB Tua Tagovailoa might have suffered a concussion late in the first half. Was he evaluated at all during the game for a concussion? Do you know when he sustained it?) – "I'm not totally sure. This is something that just came across my plate a couple hours ago. As far as the game was concerned, no one recognized anything with regard to any sort of hit. I can't really tell you exactly what it was. I'm not totally positive on that, but it was something that he met with the doctors today and discussed some symptoms and then from that, as you guys know, from there on, that's between Tua and the doctors and we'll move forward as information is projected towards us."
(So will QB Teddy Bridgewater get the majority of reps in practice on Wednesday and Thursday?) – "Yes, I believe so. That and he had a great week of practice the week before."
(Getting back to playing complementary football, how important is it for you all to start the year off with a fresh, fresh, clean slate and just closing out 2022 just trying to get back on track?) – "It's extremely important. It's tough when you find different ways to lose football games when guys are really trying their hardest and put forth their best effort. I think any time that you're minus three in the turnover ratio and I think our defense really had a good job of play and improved upon their effort before because basically the defensive staff and the players kept coming together. So I thought they did enough to win. We can't really go to games and expect to win if you're minus three in the turnover ratio and turn the ball over four times."
(Were doctors sure that QB Tua Tagovailoa did in fact have a concussion over the past day or two? Were doctors sure that Tua has had a concussion because obviously you can go in protocol even without certainty of that? Are they sure that he did have a concussion?) – "As much as I know, he's displayed symptoms and they enacted the protocol, which is all that needs to happen before you have to, by the player's health, go through that whole process as they should, so it's a little early. Like I said, I only found out a couple hours ago."
(Obviously you have a very important game coming up on Sunday. How do you expect the team to respond? How do you expect QB Teddy Bridgewater to respond to the challenge that lies ahead without Tua?) – "I mean, that's one of the reasons you go and aggressively pursue a player like Teddy Bridgewater. And the team is, I expect them to do what is pretty difficult for a lot of people but no one really cares. This is something that we have all of our fortunes ahead of us, so it's up to us to choose what we do with all the past experiences, move on to the next game, which in this case is the New England Patriots – a division rival that they've gone through their set of circumstances as well. So I think they're going to respond the way I'd hope, which is fully embracing the challenge and going after it, really, really trying to rectify these past couple experiences that we've had on the field."
(So will QB Teddy Bridgewater start on Sunday or is that not yet clear?) – "It's too soon to really tell. You just know that someone goes into the protocol and you have to be ready to really do whatever with that. I know Teddy (Bridgewater) will prepare as though he's starting and we'll see as the week goes."
(All these changes with QB Tua Tagovailoa in protocol, but a lot of the analysis of his last game, saying that he's not reading defenses, just trying to manipulate them and predetermine where he's going. Do you agree with that assessment that led to some of those interceptions?) – "I think I'd be careful (with) the absolute anything. I think the bottom line is in the National Football League, players and coaches shouldn't be surprised when outcomes aren't what we're going for in the first place. So you turn the ball over, you throw three interceptions and you have a fumble; a lot of conclusions can be drawn. It's fair to draw them, but in my experience, absolutes in those regard or making it that simple; it's a team game and you have to assess each and every decision, how did it happen? I know there'd be couple throws in particular that he'd love to have back. I know there's at least one decision that appears to be pretty poor that other guys on the offense would take 100 percent accountability for, so a lot goes into it and I don't think it's always that simple."
(How would you describe the mood of the team today?) – "I was proud of how they came in. They got their workout in, and that's not easy. They've had – their expectations haven't been met for going on a month now, so you learn a lot about people. I think that's been made clear to them that what they're being asked to do is not easy, but neither is being a professional athlete or having the opportunity to do what we do for a living. So I was happy with their disposition, how they approached really watching kind of a painful game tape to watch. You expect them to learn from it and move forward, expect them to seize the opportunity that's right in front of them, then you sit back and coach as best you can and see what happens."
(Do you need to reassess your replay review challenging system protocol that the team has in place? Or is that something that can't really be done midseason and has to be kind of looked at after?) – "You're always accountable for it. The bottom line was collectively, guys that we've really relied upon all season had a – it's a fast-paced decision that you get one shot at, and they collectively didn't think that there was information enough to overturn it. Now you go and look back at it, I know there's some assessment by people outside the league that have formerly been in the league. I'm aware of that. I'll be interested to see what the league has to say. But I think you do it like everything else with regard to head-coaching responsibilities – you don't just ever blow anything off, regardless of if it works in your favor or not. We're always talking through, trying to get better at stuff so that the one thing you can control is not have something happen twice that maybe didn't work out in your favor. So I'm happy with the guys that we work with and I expect that process to continually get better, regardless of what happens in the immediate."
(I know how much you care about your players. How worried are you about QB Tua Tagovailoa, if in fact he had a concussion? Whether it was his second or his third this year, I guess we'll never know that with certainty. How worried are you about him personally?) – "I just want guys to really be done right by the information we have, the science and all the medical expertise that we rely on. I care very deeply about each and every player. I take that seriously, so I just want him to get healthy and have peace of mind in that regard. That's first and foremost, and then whatever the circumstances are after, you deal with after. It's about the human being and making sure he's squared away."
(As far as adversity, this is another layer of adversity. You've been facing adversity all year. How do you try to push through making pressure turn into diamonds instead of bust pipes?) – "Well, in this circumstance, it's a lot easier in terms of it's pretty clear. You have – it's just the way that football has worked out around the league. You have an opportunity to control your own destiny. You have a division opponent, so you really focus all your mind and body towards that, and you try to acknowledge that, 'Hey, this is tough.' Well maybe not for everyone, but football is not for everyone. If you want to succeed in football, you have to go through adversity and when that happens, by nature, people – if you handle it well and you win, it's very satisfying. If you go after it, regardless of the outcome, you just do not want to leave in hindsight saying, 'Well, I could have done X, Y or Z.' If you want to really have integrity with that, I think that's important in the game of football. We definitely have seen our share of adversity, I think everybody has, but this is a tremendous opportunity to try to topple that, because that's the nature of this game and that's the nature of life, really."
(Any reasons that you have identified in why special teams has given up a lot in both kick and punt returns and then not gotten a lot in the return game on your side?) – "There was a portion of the season that I feel like the lineups were changing every week. I thought that special teams – really, we had a good week against Buffalo, against one of the better units in the league. I thought we definitely cost the team this week. In a couple of occasions, there were some plays made, for sure, but with regard to field position on two instances and a missed opportunity to get points. It sure didn't transfer to two games, so you have to really comb the whys on that – why we didn't build on the momentum and try to get back to what I thought was a positive contribution about the Buffalo Bills."