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Transcript | Mike McDaniel's Media Availability - February 27

Read the full transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference during the 2024 NFL Combine on February 27, 2024.

(On the importance of getting the ball out quick) – "Yes, before he's sacked. Really, some of the best players in the National Football League are collected as pass rushers on the defensive front. That's some of the most strained matchups you have regardless of the team you're playing against. Being able to play to that and not have the quarterback have the ball that long before he throws it minimizes the chance for those negative plays. However, there's a lot of variables that can go in to play where guys may not be able to get open in those times. So it's not a mandate you want the ball out at a certain time. It's more that you're trying to play to the strength of your team. When things are open and when both the offensive player and the scheme allow for a player to be open early in the timing of the play, you take advantage of that because it's more difficult for the defense to have a negative play on your line of scrimmage or behind it."

(On extension talks with QB Tua Tagovailoa) – "Absolutely. I think one of the cool things in this organization is how communicative and how well I work with Chris Grier as well as how I can separate what my job is and what his job is and how we move forward. I'm very encouraged. Both Tua's representation and our organization are hard at work. Those timelines are impossible to predict and my main concern this offseason has been communicating what Tua needs from his head coach and his offensive coaching staff, which is what things can we identify to continue the progression of your game the same way that we have since day one? My belief has always been strong from day one in Tua. It's stronger than it was the first day I met him and that's because of that relationship, where I'm focused, which is continuing to provide the coaching so he can continue to evolve his game as he has since the second that I started talking to him."

(On how the offense may evolve heading into the 2024 season) – "Yeah, you know it's an interesting question that I regard. But I look at every offseason, every year's offense, as a constant evolution to your players and to what defenses are doing. I'm never going to copy and paste and be like this is what we did in 2023 and let's work off of that. You're ultimately trying to create some uncertainty and indecision with offensive scheme. Inherent in that is your constant evolution. I'm not really ever gloating on any successes of past. You're more, what are we going to do with this set of players? We're going to have some guys that are going to be in Year 3, some guys in Year 2 and some new guys. But ultimately, what's the best thing to serve them? And that's naturally evolving. There's never been one year from an offensive perspective that I can remember that we stayed exactly the same, particularly since I got started here in 2022. There will be exciting things that we do different. There's going to be exciting things that we will evolve from, and there's exciting things that we will build upon on the success of the first two years."

(On the change at defensive coordinator) – "In regard to the defensive coordinator transition this offseason, I'd be lying if I said I was expecting that during the season at all. I think Vic (Fangio) would feel similarly. What happened was basically I think it's important when the season ends for you to remove emotion and evaluate and have very, very good conversations with all people that you're depending on. With Vic and I, we had extensive conversations that were very healthy. Ultimately, when push came to shove, it seemed like we both had the opportunity and it'd be best for both parties involved to literally, mutually part. So it wasn't anticipated. It was something that I think was a factor of great communication between him and I, where we feel like we're all best served if we go a different direction, which is something that we had mutual belief. I'm excited for both parties moving forward."

(On if the team plans to add any running backs) – "There is never that sense of complacency with any phase. I think we did make some substantial improvements in the run game, which was something that a year ago at this press conference, I was probably taking about that we needed to do, and that doesn't stop. I think running the football is a way to dictate the terms more than anything in football. One team has the ball, the other team doesn't. It's the orchestration of offense that's the least risky in terms of turning the ball over. That's something we'll continue to try to evolve. Our minds are always open. We're always creating competition and always trying to find new ways to find new ways to have different successes and evolve on the front end and not the back end of things."

(On Assistant Defensive Line Coach Kenny Baker leaving to take a job at Texas) – "They got a great coach, a great leader of men. He's somebody that the human part of me, the human part of the head coach, was super excited for Kenny. I wasn't extremely excited about losing him. I think that speaks to the type of leader, developer, communicator and just overall coach that the University of Texas is really getting. They should be elated with that asset. I'm really excited for Kenny. It's an earned opportunity at a great institution."

(On the most important part of QB Tua Tagovailoa's development last year) – "Reps. He had more reps than he's ever had in his career because he played the full season. That was something that in football, there are a lot of things that can happen. There are also a lot of things you can control. I think one of the best examples of taking control of your career is what Tua was able to do through training and being able to experience all the different things – I mean shoot, experience a playoff game for the first time in his career. That was afforded to him because he was able to lead the team week in and week out. These are things that weren't necessarily assumed he was capable of doing, but like most things Tua has done in his career, he's recognized that and proved doubters wrong."

(On his favorite book, Talent is Overrated, and if he has asked any players to read it) – "Well, unbeknownst to most people, including all of our local beat writers, I've been subconsciously implanting themes of Talent is Overrated since I got the job. Unbeknownst to you guys, you guys know half the things that are a fixture of that book. Deliberate practice is a huge theme amongst that. But I haven't forced the reading. I've referenced the book multiple times, but the major lessons from that book, I think are common themes that both the players and you guys hear all the time."

(On if T Terron Armstead has informed the team of his plans to play next year) – "I have let time allow for what is an important decision for him. I let time from the season evolve so that he can give us a window into what he's thinking. I think it is important – there is a rollercoaster of emotions when you're talking about potentially leaving a game that you're elite at, and the pros and cons of that. He's been an unbelievable leader and he's really battled through a ton of different things for us. Right now, he's determining something that him and his body are the only people that know, and we are very open for that. However, we also have to allow for that time and assess all options so the Miami Dolphins have plans regardless of any sort of scenario, which is what we get paid to do. There is not anybody that has earned more liberty to take his time to figure out the next step in his life and if it's with this team or not, so we're allowing that with Terron. I'm excited to hear some of the conclusions he's drawn in the near future."

(On why he retained Special Teams Coordinator Danny Crossman) – "It's a good question. I think so many of the decisions that I have to make are very layered. Although results are very, very important – and I think Coach Crossman would agree with the statement that the results aren't where we want them to be – however, so much of my job is determining the compounding variables and the why to things. Ultimately, I think the bottom line is picturing us moving forward and how to get that phase of the football team to find the improvement necessary for us to take steps in our game as a team, and I determined he was the appropriate guy to lead us and to fix the things that haven't been up to the standard. That's something that isn't as easy as, alright, things are – and I don't think it's appropriate for you to point-blank say the results aren't there, you shouldn't be either. You have to assess the why's and come up with a gameplan on how we're going to improve that phase, which is very important to us moving forward, which is why Danny is part of it."

(On the qualities Special Teams Coordinator Danny Crossman has that make him confident moving forward) – "So you have a window into the truth depth of someone's coaching ability when you're working alongside them every single day. Part of the process of factoring those things is ultimately, how is a coach able to communicate to a player to get him better? And although the results haven't been there, what I've seen is players responding in the appropriate way to things that Danny has to offer. Now, does that mean we're not taking a hard look at everything with regard to scheme? To players? Absolutely not. Everything is on the table. But what has been established is the communicator, the leader and the guy devoted to getting it right is Danny Crossman. I felt like that held the most merit to coach this unit moving forward. I think if players didn't respond to him, it would be a different conversation. But I think we'll collectively work together to right something that we know we can improve upon. That's very tangible and I'm excited to do that."

(On college quarterbacks making the transition to the NFL) – "So if you're good at algebra, does that mean you're good at calculus? There's steps in between, right? It's a different orchestration of talent execution. And college football is a different game that has overlapping variables, but it would be farfetched to say at any position that collegiate success dictates professional success. It's a different orchestration of an 11-person game. There's different nuances to it. The time with which you have to throw is different. The space is different. The space that you have to throw in the pocket, the space down the field, just all the things that are pillars of the professional game, there's a disparity in really what the quarterback is asked to do relative to what they're doing in college. It's a taste of it, but it's on a whole other level. And that's why it's an inexact science. Plus, the success of the quarterback in the collegiate platform is based upon compounding variables that you have to sift through. Do they have elite receivers that take 10-yard throws and take them 60? Are the offensive line and run game unbelievable? Do they have the best defense in the country so they get 100 different opps? All those things – is the offense that they're employing the best fit for the skillset of the quarterback? It's the amount of variables and the change in job description or really the maturation of what you're asked to do from the quarterback position on a grander scale for sure."

(On if he's expecting DT Christian Wilkins back next year) – "Yeah, I hope so. Don't you? We'll see. But I'm excited for Christian's opportunity that he's earned. Yeah, we love good players and we'd love to have him back."

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