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Transcript | Mike McDaniel's Media Availability - January 2

Read the transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Monday, January 2, 2023.

(With QB Tua Tagovailoa with the concussion and QB Teddy Bridgewater with the finger injury, is QB Skylar Thompson likely your starting quarterback against the Jets?) – "There's a lot of variables that are going on. I think for me right now, I'm preparing for both Skylar (Thompson) and Teddy (Bridgewater). I think it's too soon to know anything about Teddy. And with Tua (Tagovailoa), like I said, I haven't even thought about playing status. It is about him getting healthy each and every day, so I can't really even factor him into any sort of equation until we're ready to broach that. It's just really a situation of at this point in the week, Monday and Tuesday in game prep, I'll be preparing for both Skylar and Teddy and then proceed as the week progresses pretty much."

(I know the thinking, obviously understandable with QB Tua Tagovailoa is doctors don't want him thinking about the future as far as when he's going to come back. There is one thing out there from Jay Glazer who is pretty reliable saying that Tua's goal was to return by a playoff game. So then is it reasonable for us to conclude that he is unlikely to play on Sunday?) – "I don't know specifically where the reliable source that you talk about – I know one thing for sure that specifically as mandated, I haven't had a discussion with Tua (Tagovailoa) about when he's playing, because again, once the picture was painted very clearly that anything but what we're doing that day, making his recovery worse for him as a human being. That discussion, I don't know where that comes from, but from his head coach to the player, no timeline has been discussed with intent. Again, no idea about any sort of when, if, why, how with regard to Tua. It is a day-to-day process, really, that is most important that we adhere to, and that's just getting him better each and every day and getting him healthy as a person. I don't really have a timeline unfortunately."

(How do you handle the backup quarterback situation in light of all the uncertainty?) – "Oh yeah, there's some variables. I think we've been in discussions about adding some depth in the short term, for sure. So that will be part of the equation, but then realistically, we have to have both of our existing quarterbacks in Skylar (Thompson) and Teddy (Bridgewater), both those guys have to be ready to play regardless because we can't just have one healthy quarterback. We've proven that that's not a safe way to live, so we will be investigating that in the immediate, but right now we're just trying to make sure Skylar is ready to go and that Teddy is getting as healthy as fast as possible."

(Is QB Skylar Thompson 100 percent?) – "What do you mean?"

(Does he have any kind of injury?) – "No, he had to get his fingernail clipped in the game. He had a bloody fingernail, which I came over to him and said, 'What the expletive expletive?' And he was like, 'Oh no, it isn't bad. It's not an injury.' So whatever that was, outside of that from as far as I know, everything is clear with him."

(So does QB Teddy Bridgewater have a broken pinky and can he possibly play with that if he does?) – "It's a pinky injury. It was dislocated; I don't think it was broken. It is something that we'll see as the swelling goes down during the week, where he's at, but with how recent the injury was, he was pressing. He thought he possibly could go back into the game this past game. Once we got him a couple throws after we had him in the tent, it was already third-and-10 and that would have been a precarious situation to go back in the game. We'll find out, keep you posted. Wednesday I should have more information on that."

(As far as other injuries, T Terron Armstead, CB Xavien Howard and T Kendall Lamm, what's the outlook for them at this point?) – "With Kendall Lamm, it's going to be tough for him to come and play this week. I don't see that happening. That ankle (injury) was – he's a warrior that we've learned in a short period of time that we can count on, but I think this would be too aggressive for this week. Really everybody else is kind of up in the air. We had a couple gametime decisions that fell short, so hopefully we'll be feeling better about that here in this next game."

(QB Skylar Thompson said after the game he felt he started to fall into a rhythm as the game went along when he came into that fourth quarter. When you watched the tape, how'd you see him kind of fare in that regard?) – "100 percent, I think that he got into the rhythm and timing which is much of his game. It's always going to take you a minute when you get in there considering more often than not, all the live available reps that you're able to take with your offensive unit that week are eaten up by the starter. So I thought he started to find himself a little bit. You can always tell with him early if things are getting in rhythm because he's such a rhythm player that he'll sometimes have to progress to No. 3 or No. 4, depending on a coverage and the play call, but generally he gets the ball out pretty quick. So there were a couple of times I thought early that he would have made throws later – those throws that he missed earlier he didn't throw or didn't attempt he would have made later in the game. I thought he got better as the game progressed, for sure."

(What's the process as far as mindset? I mean, this roller coaster of win three, lose three, win five, lose five – the season is exhausting itself and then when you add the roller coaster ride, too, I'm sure that doesn't help matters. How do you flip the mental switch and get the mind right in six days?) – "Well, I think you have to return to – realistically what is reality? Reality – you know, we feel a certain way. We've, like you said, won three, lost three, won five, lost five. If we got to the same spot in a different order, if we would have lost three, won three, lost five, won five, would we be feeling different? I think the bottom line is that exercise lends you to that however you get there, your choice in an NFL season is to have stuff work for you or against you. And we have one game against the Jets. I don't really look at, 'Well, we should have, could have,' whatever. This is our journey, and all my message is to, really, the team and everyone in general is so? We're playing the Jets this weekend. Yeah, we've had key players make mistakes in crucial situations, specifically the last three weeks where we've had the lead late into the third quarter at least and lost them. What does that mean for this week? It means absolutely nothing unless you let it. There will never be a season that is void of emotional roller coasters. There's too much investment, there's too much parity, and the fact of the matter is it's too scrutinized because it's too successful of a sport. So you're going to get knee-jerk reactions either way – might as well get used to it. I think that running away from reality doesn't do anybody service. It's been a tough, tough five consecutive weeks, for sure. Unless that's going to get us some asterisks points against the Jets, why even pay mind to it? Why even think about how hard it's been? You have a week with your teammates to prepare to play in an NFL game on Sunday and if you win that game, you can possibly be afforded an opportunity to play another game. But regardless, even with all those implications, our guys just need to find a way to come together and win a football game and not set ourselves up to win it and then have critical mistakes down the third and fourth quarter. So that's what I'm really focused on. I think that's what we're very capable of doing. It's a challenge that I truly believe that the locker room and in the coaching staff is up for."

(Long-winded question about New England's final touchdown. They came out in a formation – they had a receiver on the left side of their formation uncovered. They call the timeout, you guys come back out and Duke Riley is out there. It looked like S Jevon Holland is pointing to the receiver who runs over there at the last minute that the ball is snapped. Touchdown to Patriots WR Jakobi Meyers. What happened in that exchange during the timeout? Why didn't you guys recognize the formation or what happened there?) – "So it was something that I think across the board, coaches and players are today both holding themselves accountable for. It was communicated by a formation recognition between the timeout where we're supposed to have rotation and the opposing linebacker and when we came out of the huddle, half the defense saw it as one way. Half the defense saw it as another. So all things were communicated, however, live speed, they saw it differently and then once the recognition occurred, we were aligned late. So if you see at the beginning of the snap, Jevon (Holland) is trying to make it right, running across the formation because it contradicted the way that we discussed it. Well, that was a functionality of one, live speed needing better, more concrete, communication. And then two, that you have a coaching staff that's accountable enough to say, 'how could this better have been communicated?' Or 'had we worked on this defensive personnel versus these types of looks from that offensive personnel enough?' Really all in all, bottom line is we didn't get it done. So those things have to be learned from and corrected. Otherwise it's all in vain."

(Is QB Tua Tagovailoa still in the early stages of protocol and does he still have symptoms?) – "I just talked to him about that day. I don't really know the stages at this point, to be honest. Again, I'm pretty over the top with absolutes when it becomes clear to me. I'm really not even worried about where he's at. I feel like that falls into the trap of what people are already trying to forecast for him which I don't think helps anybody. And then all I know is saw him today and he told me he felt good. So what does that mean relatively and we're working through that and letting medical professionals completely assess, so there's no breakdowns in communication or anything like that."

(What happened in practice with CB Xavien Howard with his knee? It hadn't been an issue for him this season? Was there a collision? Was there…?) – "It was just competing in in practice and unfortunate bang-bang play where knees collided really."

(Steering back to QB Tua Tagovailoa, I know you haven't had any conversations about when he's going to play, but in your conversations with him are there ever times where he wants to talk about football and you have to steer him away from it?) – "I feel compelled every conversation to reiterate that 'Remember, there's no such thing as a timeline. This is about today.' So I do feel compelled to do that early in the conversation which if he's thinking about going there, I kind of snuff that out before the process. So I just think it's important that he has that concrete reminder because that's a tough thing to do when you're so forward-thinking like a professional athlete is, is to just say, 'I'm just going to do this today and not think about tomorrow until tomorrow.'"

(For how long do you think you'll feel comfortable waiting on the decision of who's going to be your starting quarterback on the weekend? Do you think that's a decision that it's good for the players to know early? Are you okay with taking it to the last minute and making a decision?) – "I think you have to do what you have to do. I think in an ideal world, I'm hoping that I can have the starter isolated this week on Wednesday, in a perfect world. If situations present itself that you're unable to do that, then you have to adjust but I think we try to get starting quarterbacks reps on Wednesday and Thursday. Just because you try doesn't mean it's 100 percent absolute, but that that's my hope, is to set it up and along those lines but it's never absolute and we always have to adjust to whatever the needs are of your team."

(This would affect like when you do your walkthrough, do you move it up, move it back or anything because of the quarterback situation?) – "You have had more odd reasons to adjust practice scheduling than that. I feel like that's happened at some point in my career somewhere. I think I'm getting older, so those brain cells are – the files are in the trash, I guess. But I don't think that that will occur this week, as far as the timeline, but I wouldn't be opposed to doing that if necessary. That doesn't seem completely out of the question as far as you know how important it is to the team."

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