Read the full transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Saturday, July 30, 2022.
(You have a sellout of membership for the 2022 season. Next year a potential waiting list for fans looking for season tickets. Just want to ask you how feel about the support of Dolphins fans?) – "How I feel about it – I mean it's everything. It's important enough that I think it's important to communicate it to the players. I think it's something that we're not entitled to, but it's a competitive advantage and it's kind of why you do what you do. It's really something cool that the players know about. It means a lot to (them), and it's just another reason for us to go about our daily process with a fine-tooth comb to make sure that we pay them back for their investment in us, and I think that's something that the players, coaches and organization holds true to heart."
(I know you're looking forward to having fans and the support today creating a little bit of an atmosphere. What's kind of the message ahead of that?) – "I love having fans at practice. It's kind of true to my heart because that's literally full circle. That's where – training camp practice in Greeley, Colorado for the Denver Broncos where this whole thing for me started. So there is a connection and I think you can have with the fans in that you're – and I tell the players a good amount – how fortunate are you to be doing something that yeah, there's a lot of front-end commitment, there's a lot of sacrifice – again, people don't realize that players only have one day off a week for like, seven months straight – but that it's also purposeful because not only are you trying to have success for yourself, for your team, but how cool is that there's millions of people that you can make their day a little more positive, make Monday work day a little bit better just by doing what you do. Everybody wins. So that's really true to my heart, close to my heart and the guys are fired up and feel pretty fortunate."
(I was just going to follow up. So there's some 10-year-old protégé out there that might be coming for your job in about 10 years, 20 years.) – "That's why I didn't allow any ambitious children to practice. (laughter) That was the one thing that I cut out."
(The two veterans who are not on any list who we haven't seen practice yet – OL Michael Deiter, DL Adam Butler – are they expected back by the start of the regular season?) – "Adam Butler – both the guys are kind of TBD. Adam Butler is dealing with a slight injury that he's trying to work through and Deiter just had a little foot deal. It was the first or second day of practice, I can't remember. Both guys were kind of waiting through the weekend to get a little more information on, so I don't totally know what that's going to look like moving forward, but we'll handle it whatever way we need to once we get a little bit more information."
(What have you seen out of RB Raheem Mostert so far? We saw the big run he broke off yesterday, but how has he been I guess developing through his rehab?) – "He was really fast yesterday, so atta boy. (laughter) I think it's cool because his teammates recognize it, too. All the players when you come off from a season-long injury, players really understand what that's like where you're on a team, then you get injured, you have to rehab. It's kind of like you're isolated a little bit, so to see how hard that guy has worked, his teammates – I think he had the fastest time at practice yesterday and I do a little thing where I announce that every team meeting. And he got like an unsolicited round of applause, so I think he's continuing the process. Like I've explained to you guys before, it's very important to us to take all measures to try to be smart with a guy's return; but as he gets going and he gets used to everything, I think we all believe that he'll start showing that speed more and more and more."
(S Jevon Holland has made some impressive plays early in camp. What are your thoughts on having him back into the defense?) – "I like having him especially on the team that I'm on and not the team that I'm playing against. It's been cool. I didn't know too much about him before I'd studied our tape here and his play as a rookie was very impressive. The way he's been diligent about approaching his craft, he's serious about continuing to take his game to the next level and that as an impact player is something that the Dolphins team – all of us – are depending on."
(Knowing that you like having fans out there and knowing that 32 teams do it, what is the challenge of having a couple thousand volunteer scouts out there with phones and Twitter accounts and Instagram and all those things? Like how much do you have to dumb things down the days that practices are open?) – "Yeah, for all opponents watching, nothing that you see today will ever run again. (laughter) It is a challenge. You have to think about it, and you just have to be very mindful of it. Listen, people are going to have an idea of what you are and how you play and a lot of people do similar things in the National Football League with regard to scheme, but if there's certain things that you have lined up for certain opponents, you have to plan around that. The good thing is you know when you're not going to be able to control what gets out into the interwebs and so you do adjust to a degree. But then there's another part that you're trying to say at some point, we need to be good enough at what we do that we should be able to execute when they know it's coming. So, yes and no, to answer your question. Is that pretty much what you're getting at?"
(There has to be some …) – "Definitely is."
(I think it's been nine years since the Dolphins had a player enter the season on the franchise tag, I think. Someone can fact-check that for me, but TE Mike Gesicki is going to do that this year, and so I'm wondering if you've been around tagged guys and if there's some sort of conscious effort that you all need to make to make sure he feels loved and not just liked.) – "We try to do at least 10 million reasons that he's liked. (laughter) No, we have and it's something that you understand that it's a business, there's a CBA, there's different rules that everyone has the same, that you have to try to operate as best you can as an organization. Now I will say I think it's important to talk to the player – in my experience – to talk to the player candidly, understanding his situation. I talked to Mike (Gesicki) early and said, 'Hey, listen. This is something that's best for the Dolphins.' I'm fortunate that I don't do this alone and that Chris Grier gets to handle all the stuff that's not coaching and be the general manager so that I can kind of stay removed from that, but I can also identify with – every player wants to have a long-term max contract, so here's what we do. We try day after day to get your game to the best of its ability so that at the end of the year, Mike, you make that franchise tag look like a discount because what that means is that you have been playing at a level that makes the Dolphins better and that also improves your socioeconomic status, I guess, for the long term. So everyone's kind of – it is what it is. It's a business, so if you just approach it as, okay, this is what it is this year. Let's use this and here are your goals and acknowledge it and it ends up being a blip in the radar."
(What do you think about the ways you can use TE Mike Gesicki in this offense and if you could also address the blocking aspect where you think he is there?) – "No, I think all of it is – listen, everybody is trying to execute our core foundation in the run and pass game and within that we're also making sure that we're just not taking leaps of faith; we're finding every player's skillset how we can best utilize it and then put them in situations to showcase that. So the guy is – everybody knows that his ball skills and range are outstanding. That helps for separating defenders. We're working on – he'll be the first one to say it – he wants to attack blocking with a different severity than he ever has before and he's fortunate and we're fortunate that guess what, his position coach Jon Embree, will settle for nothing less. So all those things are something that he's definitely embracing and I'm excited to see what it looks like when it's all said and done."
(I'm sure you're going to be asked about this a million times between now and December 4, but the 49ers have moved forward with QB Trey Lance. I just want to get your reaction on how much development he made in the 12 months that you had him and your thoughts about him being the starter.) – "Well, we play the 49ers, right? What week? I typically try to – you know, I'm there at one point and then I'm gone. There are a lot of people here who are depending on me to have my mind and presence right where it's at. So, I really haven't even though about it. I know one thing – my personal philosophy with players is that you don't put a ceiling on them. So I know that the guy is working hard. Outside of that, I'm expecting him to be a heck of a matchup to try to defend come Week (13) or whatever. But I don't really have any other thoughts about that. If you want to talk about Dolphins, I'm solid on that one."
(You're the 14th head coach in franchise history, and it's been about 50 years since the team last won a championship. Do you feel like there's added pressure knowing that this is your first year and the goals the fans want and the city wants to deliver a championship?) – "I wouldn't say added pressure. The pressure comes from within. The pressure is trying to do right by people and making sure you get the most out of them. I think it's not a bad thing for people to be optimistic about how you can perform. I think that – I do not shy away with the players. We look it right in the face because it's something to welcome. Not because that – pressure is one thing, but what about the dividends, you know? What about the dividends of going after something and trying to reach for it? So we don't really shy away from it. I try not to shy away from that pressure. That pressure, realistically, is no different than any other year for any other person within an organization, because in the National Football League, it's a very unbelievably successful business. When push comes to shove, if you're not putting up, you have to shut up."
(We had a good conversation with RB Chase Edmonds the other day about transitioning from inside to your wide zone scheme. He talked about some of the things he thinks about. I'm curious what you see as how a running back transitions from different schemes to your wide zone?) – "It's a cool process because you are away that it is unique. Evaluating Chase (Edmonds) in the offseason, we knew that the stuff he was doing wasn't the exact same as what we plan on doing. That being said, you're evaluating how people approach space, how people play off blockers, how people make defenders miss. So again, that's why I don't get ahead of myself about 'Alright, he's right here. It's going to be this way.' He's been a great example of watching someone progress. He has really in the last couple of days put some tremendous things on tape with that regard in that scheme. It's a process, but you just talk through it. It's pretty – when it clicks for guys, it's very enjoyable. It helps them – once it clicks once and the buy-in is real (and) they just continue approaching things the same way moving forward, it really helps them play faster when it comes to real live game bullets and people are actually trying to tackle them."
(Obviously, the week is not over but what have you learned about the team through the first week of training camp?) – "I've learned that there has been some trust that's been earned on both sides, I think. I think that I really challenge them to – everybody wants to say that you want do these superfluous things and yada yada, but what about doing? What I've seen in three days is guys that are following their words with actions. They care about their teammates. They have approached each and every day with the ultimate professionalism, and then there have been little pieces along those couple days that you're like, 'Hey, that's not what we want for what we're trying to get done.' I think it's happened a couple times each and every day, and every time it's been corrected. So that also tells you a lot as well. I couldn't be more excited to chop wood and go on to Step Four of this training camp process with every day just being one step."