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Transcript | Mike McDaniel's Media Availability - January 11

Read the transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Wednesday, January 11, 2023.

(Before we start I just wanted to mention real quick that later today we're going to be presenting our "Good Guy Award" which goes to the player who exhibits professionalism with the media and so in preparation for that I asked everybody to give me three names instead of just one because I knew that it wasn't obvious who was going to win it this year. And two interesting things happened. No. 1 believe it or not, we had to have a runoff election because the voting was so close…) – "Too many good guys."

(Too many good guys. And No. 2, one-fourth of your roster received votes, which I think says something about the locker room you've put together. So I'm sure – I think I speak for everybody here when I say that we're appreciative of the players for their cooperation, your coaching staff, yourself, the communications staff and let me not forget to mention the cafeteria staff.) – "This is unbelievable. (laughter) I very much appreciate it on behalf of all people involved and that's really cool to hear. You guys deserve the respect that you're receiving. Just trying to do your job."

(Now that we've said that, who's the quarterback on Sunday?) – "It's not me. (laughter) As of today, Tua (Tagovailoa) has not been cleared by doctors to resume football activities on the field with his teammates so because of that and because of the time that he's missed, I can rule him out for Sunday."

(Is QB Teddy Bridgewater in line to play this week?) – "Teddy (Bridgewater) is still working his way back. His biggest thing is he knew that he had to be in a position where he had to be fully functional on Sunday. That took some strain and really just some guts and work ethic. That's not an easy thing to do and as it stands right now he's working to prepare himself to be capable on Sunday, but as a result of that, he can't afford any setbacks or really anything that's conflicting against the healing process in the week. As a result, we'll be approaching the game today – the Wednesday game – with Skylar Thompson as our starting quarterback."

(When you talked to QB Tua Tagovailoa and officially ruled him out, what was his reaction? What was that conversation like?) – "I would say it's conflicting. He, himself, is learning that he needs to listen to the advice of doctors and medical professionals. He understands the severity of doing that, so there's a little bit of things that he can't control. He was an incredible part of the entire season. I think eight of our wins were as a result of him playing quarterback, amongst the team, and that did not come because it was just gifted. That was a lot of work and preparation, so it's very frustrating, much as a lot of things in life and football are. But it is very frustrating for him to not be able to go through everything with his teammates and really it was a huge goal of his to help get this team to the playoffs and he wants to play in the playoffs. There's nothing more fun than playoff football and he really finds normal football fun. So very conflicting I would say, but (Tua) understands that it's his best interest that the doctors and medical professionals are seeking and respects and regards that. So that was about it."

(Is QB Tua Tagovailoa going to be able to go with you guys to Buffalo?) – "These are things that I try to take things one day at a time – not to be annoying, but because of just really the procedure that the doctors have kind of shown me. I think there's a possibility of that, maybe. I don't know. We'll see how he is on Friday and Saturday and then whether or not it helps, hurts or is indifferent for him to travel."

(Have there been any setbacks?) – "Not really setbacks. It's more of just I would say compounding variables. Again, I try not to micromanage everything because I don't find a non-expert to be helpful in micromanaging. I would think that would lend one to mismanagement, so I wouldn't say setbacks as much as just compounding variables and what needs to happen for the doctors to feel good about it."

(Is there any, I guess, relief in knowing QB Tua Tagovailoa's situation that now you can make plans or is it still kind of muddled because you don't know between QB Skylar Thompson and QB Teddy Bridgewater at the quarterback position?) – "I would be a fool to pretend to have a road map for anything. Just in general in football, but this season in particular, if I was feeling comfort in the idea of an exact vision on who was going to play for instance, I would be ridden with anxiety. We've had injuries. Most teams have injuries. We've dealt with some at positions with multiplicity. So I don't really look at it like that. I look at it like, 'All right, this is the hand right now. How do you play that hand?' If there are things that go back and forth, you have to just plan for that as well. So I wouldn't say there was any comfort in really any of the news that we're talking about with exception to the fact that I know we have a dedicated, hungry football team that's excited to play in a game that they earned to play in. There's something to be said about the group in the locker room that understands that it's not about 'would've, could've, should've, this happened, that happened.' I told them today that I think they're one of five teams in the history of the National Football League that have lost five in a row and made the playoffs, and that is not something that you want on a trophy. You prefer not to lose five in a row. But I think it also more precisely speaks to the level of determination, the lack of splintering. There's something to be proud of there, too, because that is hard to do clearly. And it's always something to build upon when you're able to do something in the face of whatever that other people can't, so I think they're just excited to a football game against arguably the best football team in the National Football League and they get the opportunity to do that on Sunday and I think that's something they're really excited for and excited to go play."

(I had a question on Quarterbacks/Passing Game Coordinator Coach Darrell Bevell and kind of his role this season. First of two parts, I was curious where that leadership kind of stemmed from and led you to bring him to the staff and how instrumental has he been working with three quarterbacks with all the various changes this season?) – "'Bev' (Darrell Bevell) has been huge for me. Somebody that I met – I think it was one of those deals where you know how you meet someone and you remember it and they don't, which means it was more memorable for you – all the way back in 2006. At Indy at the Combine, you know at the old Marriott with whatever that burger place is? I was down there talking to him, knew of him then and then had followed his career. Had been in the same division as him on occasion and had played against him. When I got here, kind of the lay of the land – I'm not sure how long it took me, but I knew that one of the biggest priorities for the organization was to get some leadership in the quarterback room, have a coach who has experience developing younger quarterbacks and has done it on multiple occasions and also has a disposition that is to be trusted. And you can't find a more trustworthy, honest, loyal human being. He's been huge for that room. It's one of the reasons why there's been really strong quarterback play that's come from that room over the course of the season. So a great asset. I mean honestly, just outstanding hire. (laughter) He gets my jokes about as well as you guys do, so it's all good."

(During the past month, has any concern been raised about QB Tua Tagovailoa continuing his career, and do all parties – the team, Tua and doctors expect him to resume playing NFL football at some point?) – "You're doing your job to ask the question but come on. I'm just thinking about his day and him getting to full health as a human being. And then when it's time to turn the page, I'll turn the page, but I'm pretty – integrity in principle to a fault and stubborn as all get out. If I hear that's the way that I should approach it, I will approach it that way and I do not deviate. Really, the next step is for him to be fully through this protocol and then we can see where the land lays, so to speak. But outside of that, I'm just worried about him."

(Starting an NFL game for a rookie quarterback – it brings out nerves just in the regular season alone. How is QB Skylar Thompson handling the possibility, a strong possibility, that he will be starting playoff game for you guys?) – "I'm not sure if anyone really understands the gravity of what he was able to accomplish, where he, himself, had started one game previous and then was injured, was out and then didn't have the routine. I mean, he's banking on reps that he's doing individually after practice in the indoor, every single day. Some scout team reps, and then a bunch of stuff from the preseason. So to jump in with a fully operated machine and do it – I'm very aware of the score. But you're talking about no turnovers, I think one sack, and I believe the offense had – I think we had more yards than this offense had against Buffalo earlier in the season when the team did win. And I believe the Jets statistically, I mean they're neck and neck but they're both two great defenses, and I think the Jets might even be ranked third or something. It was no easy test that the those who are weak would be exposed immediately. I think he'll look at it as – probably the way Skylar thinks, he hopes that's the worst game that he ever plays knowing that everyone has bad games, but you're trying to build you stuff you learned from, some stuff that he did pretty well, some stuff that I know that he can do a lot better. But the mental fortitude, the composure, that's something that should be praised because it's pretty impressive and not easy to do."

(What do you need to see from QB Teddy Bridgewater for him to play Sunday?) – "That's something that it's not just seeing, but it's him communicating. And he's got to be able to rip it in time to be able to get some work with his teammates. But that's not even really his objective. With this timeline, he's really focusing on being able to come through if needed, because he knows on the front end, he's not going to be able to get that many reps, if any. So it's him building, and the bottom line is if we're in the situation on Sunday and we need him to play and he says he can play, my relationship with him and what he's earned, the trust that I have for him, if he says he can roll, he can roll."

(How has T Terron Armstead been progressing?) – "Progressing. As far as what does that mean for this season? I was talking to him today. It's very frustrating when you're not physically capable to play the game you love each and every week and go through that stuff. It's also been very rewarding because out of all the groups on the team, offensive line is probably the greenest so to speak. So every time he hasn't been on the field, his impact – he's earned that C on his jersey (as captain), each and every week, regardless if he's playing or not. Like most weeks, this week is no different. I expect him to be out there if he's capable. And if he's not, he'll make the best decision for the team. That's just kind of how he's built."

(How has QB Mike Glennon picked up this offense since he's been here?) – "You can tell he's been a very convicted, committed player that has experience in multiple systems. You can see it's like talking to someone who is speaking a second language, where you can see them think in their first language. He'll process it in terms that he knows it. But consummate pro, has fit right in. Only has value added. And really, he elevates the overall relative height of the whole group, which is cool when you're a short coach."

(Knowing the Bills are going to score points regardless of how much confidence you have in your defense, what is a roadmap for you to match points with them, knowing you don't want to put QB Skylar Thompson in a position that's too much for him, but that you sort of have to match points with the Bills?) – "I think if you start thinking – to even consider being able to beat a team as high-quality as the Buffalo Bills, I think one mistake is not trusting your teammates in all ways, shapes and forms. So if you start chasing points, you're probably going to add to that differential. I think you have to worry about what the defense is going to play, what matchups you can work with, where are you vulnerable and then how to try to max out whatever the defense is doing, because typically defenses tend to play to their offense as well. I don't see Buffalo any different. I think it's kind of a dangerous game if you try to start chasing points on the road with a juiced up crowd and a defense that thrives on turnovers. So it's a balance. But the bottom line is, if you're trying to compete with a with a team like that, that's earned their home-field advantage in the playoffs, you have to try to compete with them as a team and not phases. Otherwise, you'll end up wishing the existence you're trying to avoid."

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