Read the full transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on December 3, 2023.
On QB Tua Tagovailoa changing the route on WR Tyreek Hill's first touchdown reception and on the throw by Tagovailoa on the second Hill touchdown reception:
"That was something that we discussed during the week and it was really in the hands of the quarterback if he thought that Tyreek would have a shot on the slot fade to adjust his route. It was part of the play that I was well aware that we were going to do. It was something that we kind of planned to have that option but it's up to [QB] Tua [Tagovailoa] to recognize the appropriate time. I think we can all say that that was the appropriate time. And then deliver a ball. You talk about command of really the game, what's going on, when to be aggressive, when not to. It didn't surprise me, but I think that this was something that really the whole team knew Tua was gonna come out and have a day like this with the way that he operates and the way he'd been frustrated about turning the ball over. To be that aggressive while having that burden of frustration is exactly what you hope for with your starting quaterback. We have to learn from things and have lessons, not scars. The connection between Tua and Tyreek in terms of two players playing together is about as good as I've ever been around. Hence, some of the plays they're able to make each and every week. The second touchdown was he threw it to the right spot and it wasn't the exact coverage that we planned on doing that, but the depth perception that Tua has down the field is pretty rare, so he can really feel when a post-safety is not at the depth they need to be. For him to be able to do that under a hair of duress is why he's doing some special stuff on the football field. I think the leaders of this team going out there at the beginning of the game and kind of taking the reigns of what kind of game it would be had a substantial effect on the entire team and then in conjunction with the stops the defense was getting really put us in an advantageous situation."
On the difficulty of Hill's catch:
"It's insane. Specifically for really fast guys. It's something that Tyreek has always been very adept at but to, just think of it this way, in the heat of battle you see the ball and then you just turn away from it and try to find it again. That is very difficult. He makes it look super easy. But that ability, there's few and far between that are able to make that play down the field wide open or not. Tua knows that and he knows that if he puts it far enough sometimes that Tyreek has done that several times in practice before. The fact that it was in stride makes it even more impressive of a catch because a lot of times when guys go blind to the ball, they're able to make a play if it's by stopping them and hitting them in the stomach. To go Willie Mays on it is pretty impressive. "
On the connection between Tagovailoa and Hill being one of the best he has ever seen in his time as a coach:
"I think they're both tremendous players and my thing is I think they're tremendous players that can make plays on their own for sure. But together the important thing for this team is that you're seeing the best selves of both players while playing together. For me, I know they're elite players but working together they're finding that Tua's able to be super aggressive in certain windows because he trusts what Tyreek's going to do. Tyreek's able to be super aggressive because he trusts Tua's field vision and knows that if he is putting the ball up in the air a little bit over the middle to just track it and catch it because Tua's not going to lead him in harm's way. The aggressiveness they play with is very unique and their ability to make plays together that other people can't is the result of both of their numbers. They're independently awesome but together they're even better."
On how the franchise's history with struggling in the beginning of December makes this win more important:
"This team is obviously within this franchise but the history has nothing to do with this team. I think it says a lot about where this team has grown from last year. If you take a look at our 12th game last year versus this year. I think we talk about it a lot, but talk is just talk. What I've seen is coaches and players fully commit to the idea of getting better and it says a lot about the team because everything that you see last week, this week is an accumulation of deliberate intent and guys are getting better at their craft. Really in all three phases there's a lot of growth and I think that is imperative if you're trying to win games down the stretch and when you have the choice of winning or the season being over in that area of the season, that comes regardless of what team you are. It gives you the chance to really utilize the entire season of growth and do something special that everyone wants to do. The one thing that I really feel from the team and what makes me so happy to come to work and so confident on Sundays is this team doesn't care who we're playing. It doesn't have an effect on how they prep and I know through experience that those residuals are paramount, huge and dictates how your season goes."
On the injuries to LB Jerome Baker and T Terron Armstead:
"Don't really know. I do know Terron was still available, so that kind of gives you the severity of it to what that looks like for this next week. I'll need more time for that. Jerome's the same thing. It's really early. The vibe that I have is that it's not season-ending but we need to really evaluate that the next couple days."
On OL Rob Hunt aggravating the same hamstring:
"Yep. He did. Not to the same degree that the injury he originally had was but it was a re-aggravation. The severity of that time will tell."
On Washington's defense in person versus on tape:
"That's something that when you have on the front end of the season some large statistical outputs you get used to team to team. You end up seeing something different than you prepared for and we're well versed in that. We kind of expected that with the changes that went on. I'd seen their defenses before but knowing which one's they were going to employ they were a little more consistent than usual. I think they did a good job. It took us making some serious plays for that statistical output but they also got us behind the chains a good amount. They were convicted and playing pretty hard so it was a challenge none the less. We're fortunate that our guys made some plays in critical times. Really the group got comfortable with what we were seeing and probably one of the most proud moments of the entire game was that last series when you see that accumulation of understanding what they were being defended by to put that through a team drive together. It was pretty cool because it was hard to do that, which is a credit to their defense."
On the pick-six:
"Phenomenal. It was awesome. It was knowing the situation that's critical in allowing players to play aggressive is on the shoulders of the coaches and I thought when you have players that are prepared and locked in and know what the opponent is trying to do, to be able to aggressively get in that screen lane is something that on top of that for it not to be a PBU or a batted ball but a catch is a huge momentum swing it's a huge play in the game but my favorite part of that play is it's not just showing up on Sunday. Stuff that we saw in practice and they talk situational football or serious start, earned first down all the different things you can kind of get a beat on stuff and shoot your guns when you have conviction of preparation."
On the team honoring LB Jaelan Phillips with their playing today:
"Absolutely. I think they did enough to make Jaelan [Phillips] smile which is important to them. This is a very tight group that doesn't just live in their own experience, that really shares the journey with each other and each individual teammate and knowing the disappointment I don't think they wanted anything to do with letting Jaelan down. This team and the organization is extremely important to Jaelan. He's a big part of what we're trying to do here so they took ownership of that and made sure to match what he brings which is a lot."
On planning his offense with speed and adding Hill:
"No. We already had [WR Jaylen] Waddle and speed is something that throughout my career has been very beneficial to what we've been able to do and when you get the opportunity to trade for one of the best players in the National Football League from an organizational standpoint I was really proud of the fact that we didn't blink at all and did what we had to do to do and then you kind of just lean into that. I've always kind of looked at football and the offense as very fluid kind of schematic thing where you're adjusting to what your players are. The offense wasn't really planned that way. I didn't really have any hard plans of what it was going to be. I had some philosophical beliefs in certain things but it's easy when you've been fortunate enough to be around a lot of different players and different scenarios. When you have speed like that you try to use it to the best of your ability and make defenses defend the entire field which is a space creator and very helpful for us."