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Transcript | Mike McDaniel's Media Availability - January 6

Read the transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Friday, January 6, 2023.

(Will QB Skylar Thompson start on Sunday?) –"Yes, I believe he will, unless there's a classic Dolphins weekly setback. But, yeah, that's the plan. I'm not sure if you guys have been able to witness any of it, but Teddy (Bridgewater) has been unbelievable in his rehabilitation. We're hoping that we'll have him for the game in a backup role. I feel like he'll get there only because of his grit, determination and really his leadership in this team."

(As far as QB Tua Tagovailoa is concerned, has he been cleared to do anything on the field yet as far as protocol?) –"As of today, where he's at, I can rule him out for the game because he will not be practicing today. That's what I know today. But I can't speak in the future to Sunday because it has to do with practice and such."

(With T Terron Armstead, is he out Sunday? Is he doubtful? Do you know where that stands, if you're able to share?) –"Whatever the status is, whether it's doubtful or questionable, it will be something that will take up until the game and it would be inaccurate if I'd forecast it. Not just because of competitive advantage, but really just keeping it real. He does everything he can and it means a lot to him. He wants to be on that field. So we'll see."

(T Terron Armstead has got a laundry list of injuries this season. Is it one specific thing that would hold them up this weekend, or would it be kind of the collective?) –"I think it would be probably the lower-half injuries as a collection. He has several things going on. But it'd be pretty much the accumulation of them all. But he's trying to get there so that he can play to the standard that we need to play with."

(What did QB Teddy Bridgewater show you that he can or can't do this week at practice, and what has QB Skylar Thompson shown you that he can do this week at practice?) –"Teddy has gotten to a place as of yesterday where I could see him – it was super conservative, but I saw him throw. That was his initial baby steps of throwing. Then Skylar had an outstanding week of practice. He really did. Much like preparing for Minnesota, in which I thought that was the game that we had the drive that was like an incredible 90 yards and didn't get points, and we had to punt because of 15 penalties or whatever. Much like Teddy, both of those guys really thrive when they're able to get all the team reps. It was cool to see. I think the guys are pumped. He was diligent and communicative from the onset, confident he owns the plan. I'm excited for him to get his deserved opportunity and hope he can set a 2022 season Miami Dolphins backup quarterback record of starting and finishing a game."

(How do you help QB Skylar Thompson mentally coming through such an important game during the week? Or do you think that's something that's done before – was he ready coming in? Because mentally, of course, there's a lot within this game, within this week?)– "I think it all depends on the individual and the human being to how much you have to place on that. For Skylar, he holds himself to such a high standard, just in general. I don't think the gravity of the game, I think is no different to him than the Minnesota game, in that he has an opportunity to start an NFL game so he's not going to waste this opportunity. I think there are certain individuals that you might have to make sure they know this is not his game to win. He knows that. He just wants to do his job well. It's never been his issue with us that he's trying to really take over. He really holds himself to a high standard of did I do what I was planning on doing? Was it there or should I have checked it down? He wants to play the position at a high level. It's how he approaches it. It's one of the reasons he can be as detailed as he is. I don't see the magnitude of the game really weighing in, in his particular set of circumstances, which is one of the reasons we feel pretty fortunate to have him."

(QB Joe Flacco is starting, what was your reaction to that?) –"I didn't know that to be true. I figured that they were going to have a quarterback start. Which one? Once I saw that Mike (White) had rib injuries yesterday that it popped up on the injury report, I thought this could be a possibility. That's my reaction. It's more about I'm mostly focused on every aspect of our team, less about the opponents at this juncture. Joe Flacco, I've watched him and studied him for years. He still is one of the best throwers, pure throwers that you see on tape. Any quarterback on this level can be dangerous if you don't play the style of defense that you need to play. Now that you've broke the news to me, that was my reaction. It was live speed. You saw it firsthand. And you're the closest to me. (laughter)"

(Obviously everybody knows what's at stake, but all week inside that locker room is it – I'm assuming it's nothing that has to be said, everybody knows what's at stake, and things just go about the exact same way you would go about business in Week 8, 9 or 10 or whatever? Is that the way it is?) –"So for this team, it's been a unique journey from the onset. We started out winning three and then we lost three. Then we won five. And then I think as a team, especially the veteran players, the coaches, people that have been around what it takes to do stuff down the stretch in the National Football League, recognize that we do have a young team that hasn't been used to win-or-go-home football, which is what the playoffs is. So we've been approaching it with that severity and that type of communication for several weeks, and they've approached it with vigor and been left disappointed for a multitude of reasons that change every game, but particularly the last three have been unique in each individual regard. I say all that because we've already been through that idea of preserving this team that you don't – by NFL standards, there's a good majority of the roster that changes every year, even when you're trying to hold it intact. That's the nature of the salary cap system. That's been on their mind this particular week. To really counteract what has happened and really what we've gone through as a team, I thought it was most important to just focus on each and every day, get back to the details of what it takes to win an NFL football game and that doesn't happen on Sunday. So we've been focusing on each day as it comes. Today's Friday and like I told the team, hopefully tomorrow they'll tell me what day that is because I don't even know what exists after Friday. So you approach it methodically that way, not trying to think about the overall outcome of anything. Our objective is to get a much needed win just as the worst-case scenario to do right by this team that has lost five in a row that they all feel that shouldn't be the case. We try to pinpoint in-house those reasons and to get a win after that shows the type of strength that you're looking for. I think it'd be a win that they'd be proud of and it's a win that could transition us to having a longer season and getting another opportunity to play together. So it's the most important game of the season and when you play those type of games, you need to reverse engineer and say, what's the desired outcome? Okay, how do we get there? And it's not by worrying about how big a deal it is."

(I'm sure that our return question for Sunday has crossed your desk. Is WR Cedrick Wilson Jr. out and are you open to having WR Tyreek Hill return punts? He told us yesterday he would like to obviously if Cedrick is out.) –"I think that Cedrick (Wilson Jr.) is going to be doubtful. It was to his credit, I think he really opened some eyes with some extreme toughness playing through the injury that he had last game. I know the training staff was pretty wide-eyed that he was able to so in that event, we have a couple different options. Tyreek (Hill) is definitely one of those options and our plan is to do the thing that works. (laughter)"

(And what about CB Xavien Howard and LB Bradley Chubb and their status?) –"I feel very optimistic about both of those guys. I think they'll be – if my crystal ball isn't too foggy – I feel like they'll be questionable later on this afternoon. But you know crystal balls, so don't hold me to that."

(You mentioned for the team keeping things kind of the same, so you don't approach things differently. But for you, how do you deal with pressure and these situations when you're running out of opportunities to get into playoffs?) –"I wouldn't say that we're just continuing to do the same. I think it's a re-emphasis of the nuts and bolts and as opposed to worrying about an end result, you worry about how can we put ourselves in the best position during the course of the game and handle the ebbs and flows. So with that, I don't know. I feel the pressure to do right by so many different people involved every time that we have a game that people pay to go see. You're talking about the team, the organization and the fan base and that would get overwhelming, maybe the situation, if I looked at it, like, 'hey, it's my job to win or lose it.' I feel that's furthest from the case. I feel like it's my job to be a part of the team and put them in positions to succeed in whatever way I can. Whether that's mindset, dictating before the game with words that I say. Maybe that's communicating certain things that I think might be helpful on special teams and defense or that's calling the best plays. At the end of the day, a team of 11 people on all 150-160 snaps that will occur on Sunday, they have to get it done. So to answer your question about pressure, if I was affected by the stakes of the game and I felt the pressure, me personally, I'd consider myself a terrible decider of a career choice. Because you ultimately are searching for the game that's hardest to get to, the game that everyone's trying to be in with the most critical examination that can possibly occur in the job. The one that takes an extra month and a half on top of this long season to get to. You feel pressure then. I've been in them. So my whole focus since I've been on the job is to make sure that really every game is like that for myself. So I don't really see it as handling anything else. I started the work week knowing that I need to put my best foot forward for my contribution to the team and I know on Sunday that my expectation will be that I'll do my very best, the best that I've done all season and doing the things that I can control and making sure that I best put people in positions to succeed and they'll take it from there."

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