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Transcript | Mike McDaniel's Media Availability - June 5

Read the full transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on June 5, 2024.

(So is this three-day minicamp turning into a two day? Is that a possibility?) – "I do see a reality where I could be inspired to adjust the tempo of tomorrow. Not the actual occurrence of tomorrow, tomorrow will still exist for sure. But I kind of leave that open to the players and what type of painters do we have at the canvas? Are they going to inspire me to paint a different picture for tomorrow? We'll see, but I think the most important thing is that I think the spring can be made out to be a lot of different things. You can make it what your collective group decides to make it, and if at any time you're getting things out of a May or June day that has residuals for the regular season, that's kind of the litmus test. I've been seeing that littered throughout orchestration of practice – yesterday was really good. So whether I hope, or the players hope, or both, that intentionality today is what we're looking for. If we don't get it right, we've got another opportunity."

(On a day like today, I guess in minicamp where there's no pads, what do you look for from your offensive and defensive linemen? Is it different on the interior than on the edges on both sides of the ball?) – "There's so much stuff right there that I love. I think there's a whole balancing act when you're trying to orchestrate football without pads. However, this balancing act, if you prove adept at it, is monumental over the course of a season. You're talking about having to not have pads on to get football work. You do the math on how many allocated padded practices you have during the season. Bottom line is if you're a good football team, you have to be able to play football without pads well, and that takes an orchestration of understanding technique and fundamentals, but also how to protect the team and there's a fine line. You're trying to achieve hat placement and you're trying to maintain your gap, but not trying to bury your teammate if you have them in a vulnerable position. All of those things are a work in progress. I pretty much talk about it daily to the team and show clips on how we can execute our fundamentals and technique while protecting each other. I think it's a little more complicated on the edges of the defense, particularly the way that we attack defenses offensively and the way we attack offenses defensively. It's kind of a similar mindset of who's going to set the edge, so you have to do a lot of orchestration in terms of teaching on how to get stuff out of it and not develop bad habits but get better. And then internally, the biggest thing is not having the competitive fires fuel things that don't help us play football well. What do I mean by that? Holding when you get leveraged or shoving a guy that's maybe at an impasse right around the ball carrier, those types of things. You have to really put the team first while in a competitive individual situation. So it's really good teaching because the benefits of it, you see throughout an entire NFL season."

(I wanted to ask you about WR Odell Beckham Jr. We've been kind of looking forward to seeing him out there. Will we see him this week? And if not, why not?) – "Well, so the head-to-toe camo for him has worked well? You guys haven't seen him? He's been right in the middle of the field. (laughter) No, I think – these are always funny. Everybody is excited to see players when they first get here specifically, and a player of that caliber, everyone is pumped up. But systematically what we try to do is learn the player and develop a relationship with them and adjust to their body on their timeline so we can have the most beneficial, communicative relationship of maintaining health. Long story short, working into playing with the Miami Dolphins, between myself and (Head Athletic Trainer) Kyle (Johnston) we decided you guys were going to have to wait. But that's just due to the individual process that we are very consistent with when new guys come to the team. We take nothing of assumption and make sure when guys are on the field, there's no setbacks. We're obviously applying that to him."

(Early on in your coaching career you had the chance to work with Andre Johnson and seen his work ethic in the offseason. What is it about Andre Johnson's work ethic that you took away from that time and that experience from Houston to try to bring it to the receiver corps in Miami?) – "It's not the Canes shirt, but you've got Canes colors on… There's no disrespect, it's more than Andre Johnson went to the U and just recognizing strong question. You've been on tilt for this, haven't you? You've been holding that in the holster. I love the example of a very talented player that made the most of his NFL career, that has no regrets because he combined that talent with ambition and desire of development. 2006 we got to Houston; I'll never forget it. I give him a hard time whenever I see him, but that first year in 2006 – obviously great player, best player on our team and did some great stuff for us – but the whole year as position coach, Kyle Shanahan would just show him Steve Smith highlights and how he caught the ball and it just used to irritate Andre. And so that first offseason we ever had him like going into our second year, he went into the lab, went and trained and came back like almost on a man on a mission just to prove Kyle wrong about how he was catching the ball and like, 'Steve Smith does this? OK, I'll do this.' And he came out the gate in 2007, two really strong games, ended up getting injured. Came back, had a good season and then had the career-changing numbers the following season in 2008. So you watched it live speed happen, you watched him do it through work tied with unbelievable gifts. I think for all players, I wouldn't be doing an injustice at all by really looking at the way Andre handled his career and making that the standard for how people – like you have whatever talents you have available to you and regardless of how talented that is, being able to maximize those talents by the way you approach the game, it's inspiring. He was the first player that I ever was fortunate enough to be around that was the best talent and the hardest worker."

(Why Steve Smith though?) – "Well, 2006, that was – two-part – the prime of Steve Smith's career. He was doing a ton of things with YAC based on how he caught the ball, so smaller dude, but he would aggressively attack slants with his hands. Andre had great hands, but he would catch with his body all things even at that time. And so then showing the residual effects of how Steve caught the ball both annoyed and motivated 'Dre' (Andre Johnson) to the point of a lot of hours of training and the great thing was, 'Dre' you proved us wrong. We win, you know? So everybody won, it was good."

(We saw how they were used last year, but I'm curious how you would characterize the competition between the running backs right now and what do you think about what you've seen from RB De'Von Achane so far?) – "I think we are very fortunate to have a group of running backs that really from across the board, it's hard to even say top to bottom because there's such great competition and you wouldn't be doing justice to the entire group if you were trying to crown this person or that person, but the whole group, pretty much led by Raheem (Mostert), it is of quality and depth as good as I've been around and been around a lot of good groups. I think the position in general, we have a lot of skill sets that their ability to affect the game is multiple so that we've been getting a lot of the guys different work within the offense at different places just to kind of expand their game. I think that I have literally spent zero time trying to forecast that room because I recognize supreme competition when I see it, and the great news is instead of saying what I believe or forecast, I get to just watch and allow the players determine all that for us. I know one thing; we're going to get the best version of each individual because of that room and the way they embrace the competition while encouraging each other and having a strong relationship with teammates within that position groups is non-negotiable for those guys. All of those guys really, really lean into the fact of we want everyone to do their best and that's where I want to succeed, not because somebody else fails. So I think that character – there's residuals to that. I think that for your team, it's a big deal when you have competition that's healthy because you get the best versions of people and it manifests itself across a lot of positions, I think."

(I know that players can sometimes use these and training camp practices to kind of tweak their game to get better, step back to take two steps forward. But how do you guys balance the evaluation of a player – maybe you're trying to work on some things versus ultimately deciding who makes the 53-man roster?) – "That's a tricky, tricky thing that we try to break down here with our coach-to-player relationships and what I mean by that is players are conditioned to say, 'Well, a correction or a caveat to your game means that that's bad.' So you're trying to for us in this offseason, is establish the healthy relationship boundaries of no, you want a coach to have something to help you and you want that – not criticism – more attention to your game and whether it comes in a negative or positive light, if you're constantly bringing up how people respond and paying attention to that and they can feel that it's more about – like for me, I want to see the next target towards a receiver after he drops a pass. I'm much less concerned about that pass that he dropped in the spring. I know he's trying to catch it, but what I do find out that you can't really substitute is, alright, well when something bad happens which will inevitably happen every single time he plays football, how is he going to respond. And when players start to understand from each position that that's what we're focused on, you get the right type of energy that's not short-term result based. 'Oh, there's an incompletion,' you start cussing. Or if it's good, 'OK, I can take the pressures off.' No, this is a big-picture assignment. We're trying to attack things with a game-like mentality more so than our opponents and then work through those residual added game reps, is the whole kind of mindset and I think practice becomes real fun when you're using it not having it define you for the short term."

(I wanted to ask you about QB Tua Tagovailoa. In the practices that we have been here, he either has not attended or he has not participated in 11-on-11s. If that trend continues while the contract negotiation continues, how could that potentially impact the offense?) – "I would've had an ulcer and a panic attack if I tried to forecast anything that comes to my plate on a daily basis. I haven't extrapolated in that way. What we've been focused on is communicating with each other. The knowns are that Tua's representation and our front office are negotiating a contract. As a player, Tua, and myself as a coach, what should our focus be on? Right, wrong or indifferent, we're going to be held accountable for the ultimate product. Whatever way you want to see it, the piper has to be paid, so to speak, so how can we make sure that we are delivering on what we're bound and determined is non-negotiable of developing this offseason. Well, maybe it makes more sense to, in this situation, do 7-on-7 or pass. Well, that's an opportunity, if you take more reps, if we're identifying specific things in our game that we're trying to improve. That can't be a complete substitution over time. There is something at some point that I think it's important for us to communicate and get in front of when we're not able to follow through with our ultimate objectives. But that's what him and I have discussed and are fully focused on in our conversations, which is how do we improve certain things about our game. I think we found ways to do that in our current orchestration and that is not, like everything in life, infinite. At some point in time, that will be important, but for me to think that's on the radar of even being a possibility of an issue, I'm not worried about that being the case. I also can't say that wouldn't be the case. Again, I try to stay in my lane to do what Tua is counting on me to do, which is get him better in every way, shape and form, and that's what we'll be doing today."

(Speaking of QB Tua Tagovailoa, there's a lot that's been said about his slimmer physique. His teammates have had some jokes as well. I'm curious, from your perspective, on the field, how have you seen this version of Tua and maybe the movement aspect translate?) – "Seems stuck. I'm OK not being the tallest guy or the most physically-imposing. But to have a lesser joke, and I caught wind of 'Reek's (Tyreek Hill), and that was so strong that I was literally mad. 'Man, I should have thought of that joke. It's so topical.' (laughter) But I think when your standard is that the same is worse and you're trying to chase the best version of yourself, you find different things. We were problem solving last offseason, he went full-tilt into that, that rendered some great results. There were also some unintended consequences of the strength. Honestly, it's just Tua trying to find another level of his game and another level of being a professional. It happens to a lot of players where all of a sudden you become pseudo-dieticians several years into your career but definitely not at the start. Seeing ways that he could maintain the strength but create some more flexibility and power, or however you want to look at it – who is the dude who drives the ball far on the PGA Tour, (Bryson) DeChambeau? So he just channeled his quarterback version of that, I guess. (laughter) It wasn't to correct something that needed fixed. It was an opportunity to get better, in his mind I think. And ultimately, we'll see how he does at read option and if he's trying to be an option quarterback, how svelte is svelte? (laughter) But anything that helps you attack your job and solve problems – problems that he's more aware of now than he was last year or the year before, just in terms of being a problem-solver at your position – you learn different things and you find value in different things. I think he's maturing as a professional and really going after the annual offseason of 'How do we get better?' Not if."

(A common refrain kind of talking about the evolution of QB Tua Tagovailoa is that last year was the bulkier version of him stayed healthy and led the league in passing. How do you balance that aspect with maybe the new version of him that may not be as bulky? The health with the mobility doesn't always seem to…) – "It was a very concrete thing that we were trying to solve last year with regard to physical preparation. That was his ability to be available as much as he can. But more importantly, for him to have the life that he wants and to play the quarterback position, and how to keep himself healthy, we identified the ground as the big opponent that we had to defeat. So strength training those particular things while also drilling stuff for the first time, we saw unbelievable results in terms of every situation that he was presented with. He was able to provide the technique and he had the strength to do it. So you don't know what that is. It was uncharted territory to kind of like work on training stunt doubles or something how to fall. That was uncharted territory, but you establish the strength and how to protect yourself so now you can go back to what are the things that help me do my job to maximum ability, not shortchanging any sort of strength. He is really taking his diet serious. And he hasn't done things to lose weight, he's done things to be in shape. I would be pumped about where he's at now, maybe predisposed to a hair of body shaming from last year if you want to do that retroactively. But to be fair, not many people were going about things that way to be as proactive with something of that nature with jiu-jitsu. He was training jiu-jitsu and calling it something else I think at one point – judo. But he really went after it and then you find out new things. Just like every year, we're trying our best to do the best football plays. We learn more about football plays and defenses and stuff, and we do new plays the next year a little bit. That maturation I think is an example of how he is as a professional, and understanding what his job is to the team and to the franchise. He's going after it and controlling all of the things that he can control."

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