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Transcript | Mike McDaniel's Media Availability - January 8

Read the full postgame transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023.

(Transcribed by ASAP Sports)

Q. You said at the beginning of the season that this team belonged to the defense essentially until you were convinced otherwise. Did they show up today in the biggest moment?

MIKE McDANIEL: Absolutely. A six-point outing is tough any way you cut it in the National Football League, and I've been really, really proud of them specifically in the last three weeks. I thought that down the stretch when we needed it most they'd really come through, so yeah, I can't say enough about that effort when this team needed it.

Q. You guys have been through a lot, but now to get into the playoffs despite all that, how does it feel?

MIKE McDANIEL: Well, I would say it feels tremendous. That doesn't mean that that wasn't the goal, was just to get to the playoffs, however, understanding all involved – you're talking about people that have been within the organization for 30-plus years, you talk about a fan base that hasn't seen their team go to the playoffs since 2016, you just talk about a lot of people involved, it's very fulfilling for the way it happened. I feel like guys were very energized about their output during the season right around the bye week and right after that, and then to take five losses in a row, specifically the last three where I thought that we really had a chance to win, a phase was off in one way, shape or form; and for guys not to quit, because it is so much easier to quit, I'm very, very proud to be called the head coach of this team. It wasn't just about the players that were playing in the game today. This was an accumulated effort. You can go down the line of all the injured players that weren't able to play had an effect on this game and our ability to get to the playoffs, which is what you want for your organization. For you to ultimately finish the season the right way, you have to get into the tournament and put your best foot forward. Very, very happy about the defense. Very happy about the offense. Shoot, I think we've gone – how many tackles have we played? I feel like it's like seven. Skylar Thompson, a rookie, gets the start, doesn't turn the ball over. Heavily, heavily influenced and assisted by his position coach, his position coaches, Coach (Darrell) Bevell and Coach (Chandler) Henley, but also Teddy Bridgewater and Tua are humongous – they've had a huge impact in how he's approached the game. I know he's very – that doesn't happen without them. You can go down the line. We had – I think the last quarter of the game – we had a guard playing tackle, and then defensively for them not to give up a touchdown was absolutely critical, and then how about — you can almost sum up the whole season, which I think this is life, this is what a football season is. Hopefully it's not as extreme as five on, five off. But Jason Sanders, to come through the way he did and have all the points, especially that last one, you have to be built different for that. I'm very, very happy with the entire locker room, the entire building, and I feel they wanted no part of this season to be over, and it's not. Now they get another opportunity to play together, which they really hold dear to their heart, and I think that goes to show, by the way, that they've really put their best foot forward through some games that haven't turned out the way you'd want them to.

Q. I know that earlier you said you didn't want to pay any attention to the score of the Bills-Patriots game and the videoboard didn't show the score, but when your game was over were you able to take a glance, and when did it finally hit that that outcome was what you needed…?

MIKE McDANIEL: There were a couple people right after I shook hands with some of the Jets' coaches that I know too well, so I didn't know any sort of score, because that was the objective. We needed to win, regardless. Nothing mattered if we didn't. Then I saw Anne Noland – I've never played her, but she's probably terrible at poker. She had a grin, and I was like, 'oh, okay.' And then the game was on in the locker room, so guys were able to see that it was a two-score lead, and guys were able to see that it was a kneel-down. It's to everyone's credit. You don't want it to always be this hard within the game or within the season, but at the same time, for you to do anything special, you have to go through adversity. You have to learn from it, and you have to improve. The bottom line was we, the last two games specifically, the team did enough to win and then critical mistakes, which we weren't void of, but critical turnovers in the second half had led to our demise. Today that wasn't the case. It was team football that was really a field position match-up. There was a lot of runs, not as many explosives, and guys really had to dig deep, but very happy with the outcome.

Q. We're aware of your usual postgame, how you leave the field, but you went running off today. Was that to watch the end of the game or was that just…?

MIKE McDANIEL: I've pulled that card a couple times. It's my move when I'm really excited, so I don't know what else to do, but I just run. It's the only running I get all season. That's happened a couple times, but it's just because I'm fired up and want to go sit down and try to take it in because I literally don't take in anything that's happened the entire game, so it's like — then I like to run into the room and be like, yes, get a couple high fives — I've got a bruised finger from high-fiving something. All that was is just to dissipate energy, I guess.

Q. What would the process be with QB Tua Tagovailoa this week and where is Teddy in terms of his status?

MIKE McDANIEL: We have a lot of question marks. I left the Tua question last Friday. He'll have another day. We'll continue to take it day by day and I will not even think about any sort of game, whether that's this year or next year, until he's fully ready to do so, and that comes with medical clearance. That's why the procedure is in place. Haven't even thought about that. Ready for either quarterback against the Bills. There's a lot of things that have to – we have to get through the training room first. Teddy was battling to be available and we think that he was in a spot that he could have come through in an emergency situation, and Skylar (Thompson) got twisted up a couple times, too, so we'll have to see how all that shapes out. But yeah, there will be some question marks, but fortunately this team has proven not to blink in any sort of question marks either way. We have guys that we really believe in, and we'll go with the healthiest group up to Buffalo and play a very good football team.

Q. You need obviously to get him through the protocol, QB Tua Tagovailoa, before you would consider it. Do you need a full week of practice coming off of that long layoff?

MIKE McDANIEL: Again, I'm pretty disciplined. Once it was articulated to me that it doesn't help Tua in any way, shape or form if I project any sort of things besides, hey, what are we doing today and are we getting better today, I haven't even thought about it. I just want him to take everything day by day, and we'll assess everything when he's fully cleared, whenever that is. But I'm not worried about timelines or – saying yes or no to the postseason is another added layer of anxiety either way, whatever I say. I'm not in the business of that. I'm going to do what's best for that player. We'll see each and every day. It's not because I like keeping people in suspense. It's because it's the best thing for the human being.

Q. You had your first successful challenge of the season. How did it feel to finally get it done?

MIKE McDANIEL: I was actually saying that on the headset, because I was very aware of that. I had a feeling, and I was like, 'You know what? How fitting would this be if I finally get one right, and it's the 18th week, 17th game, fourth quarter.' Like the rest of the locker room, I just was battle tested, tried to learn from my mistakes, but it was nice that it ended up being a big turning point, and so credit goes to all the people communicating with me and provoking me to not have a long memory on all these failed attempts, which I had one that half, as well.

Q. Did you get a chance to talk to QB Tua Tagovailoa at all after this game and see his reaction?

MIKE McDANIEL: Yeah, no, he was in the locker room waiting for his teammates, and he was just all smiles because this is his team that he – this was the first game we were able to pull off without him, and he was just happy for his teammates and happy for himself because, like I said, everybody that's a part of – that's what's so cool about team sports, so it's not, 'okay, this person got us to the playoffs, that person…' I mean, shoot, he's led us to where we're at to the point that we've had two games down the stretch of the season that if we win one, we could possibly make the postseason. That's to his credit. He was very happy and shaking hands and just being there for his teammates.

Q. Has he been talking to QB Skylar Thompson a lot?

MIKE McDANIEL: No, icing him out. (laughter) Yeah, of course. Tua is a great guy, Skylar is a great guy. They have great guy conversations.

Q. What was it like sharing that moment with Steve Ross after the game, the guy who brought you here?

MIKE McDANIEL: It's really cool. I am not one to feel entitled to anything. Also, my walks of life have kind of led me to have an infinite memory of anytime someone takes a chance on me. I'm very loyal to that. It was very — I know how many other teams were interviewing me, so the answer is zero, and he felt his gut that that didn't matter, that this was the right fit for everything that we're trying to do here, and I'll forever be loyal to that. I really feel like over time people will truly realize what type of unbelievable owner he is, and he's just been a hundred percent supportive, so I was very happy to share that with him and then the president, Tom Garfinkel and Chris Grier and Brandon Shore. All those guys, I feel indebted to. We're not nearly done by any stretch, but to continue to progress with your goals, you have to get goal one. To be in the tournament was something that I feel like I would have felt shortchanged the team, the players and the organization if we weren't able to do it, and we found a way, so I'm very happy about that part.

Q. How do you sum up those emotions that you felt once it was over, when the clock hit zeros, and you found out also that Buffalo had beaten New England?

MIKE McDANIEL: I still haven't — you get terrible versions of me in postgame press conferences. I'm trying to keep the integrity of every decision that I make during the course of a game, so I can't spend any time having emotion on anything that happens. In that process, you get to the end of the game, and it's like, all right, you've done that for three and a half hours; what's next. Okay, now I need to go talk to the team. Then I need to come in here and talk to you guys. I'm not sure if it's really — long story short, I'm a terrible podium guy because I don't really know how I feel. I'll probably figure that out later tonight, but I know one thing. I will be excited tomorrow to come to work and begin the game planning process again because I was not ready for that to be discontinued for the season. I think a lot of guys really are – it meant a lot to them, this team, and they didn't want to see it go, and they knew what the stakes were, which is why I'm that much more proud of them.

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