Read the full transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
(On LB Melvin Ingram) – "He's a veteran player that has been very productive in this league. In conjunction with the scouting department – Chris (Grier), myself and the rest of the scouting department and the coaching staff felt very excited to have the opportunity to add him to the team. He's a veteran presence, a guy who has been in big games, a guy that for a young team can be very impressionable and a playmaker to boot."
(Where does that stuff show up? Does it show up early … or is it always there?) – "I think that shows up – one of the great things about football is that nothing you see on Sundays just comes out of nowhere. This is a very practiced and well-orchestrated game that you don't just all of a sudden have production out of nowhere. It's how you carry yourself on a day-to-day basis, especially people that are able to be productive for several years at a time. That's a day-in, day-out process and we have coaches and players that have been on teams with (Ingram) that were able to kind of give us a glimpse of what we'd be getting. And that type of person first is the reason why the player exists."
(The orange jersey and practice player of the day, was it your idea? Tell us how you came up with it and what's your process for selecting who earns that practice player of the day?) – "This offseason, we were spit balling various things. Coach Jon Embree brought up the idea of – there was a lot of talk about my DJ skills pre-team meetings. So to kind of put that to bed and say, 'Hey, if you're so great, why don't you show yourself?' He floated the idea of having a practice player – organically as a staff we came up with selecting a particular person that would not only be represented as the best player on the field from the practice before but also take all accountability for DJ selections from the head coach and make sure everyone knows it's the person with the orange jersey that's making those calls."
(Did anybody have a playlist that was not well received?) – "That was another learning opportunity for the team because I think the first day, Jaelan Phillips received some flak just for some particular selections. Everyone has an opinion, especially when it comes to things like that. But we talked about it as a team. Since then, there's been no grumblings because the whole point is if you have any comments or critiques over the DJ list, become the DJ."
(So this basically takes the heat off yourself?) – "I mean an unintended consequence. I think there's multiple winners in the whole process. I think the guys, they definitely respect the players that have been given it and you can tell this team is full of competitors because even within one's position group, the second one guy receives it, it seems to lift up the level of play from that group."
(QB Tua Tagovailoa won it one of the days. What have you seen from him and what do you want to see out of Tua?) – "He earned it. I think his teammates acknowledged that. What have I seen from him? I've seen a guy that's attacking the moment, a guy that really likes to play football. In the process of college evaluations, you're in the National Football League in a different conference and you hear people describe a quarterback's instinctiveness. It's kind of probably how it hits your ear that it hit mine, where that's intriguing, but I didn't quite know what that meant. Now I have a better idea of what that meant but I still don't have a better way to describe it besides instinctiveness. But you can tell the player has played the position for a long time and that he thinks about the game of football through the lens of the quarterback position. I've been very excited about his development as far as the offensive plan and being the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins."
(What specifically during OTAs are the two or three things you've really wanted to achieve?) – "You're first trying to identify a standard with which you play and a standard with which you practice. Within that, that's where your camaraderie and that's where your relationships are built. They're blood, sweat and tears that are earned over hard work and you're trying to get a team to decide what their standard of play is going to be and then you want to uphold that standard because that's the way that you operate and function as a football team. So that identity, it's a tackle sport but the way we look at it is you can start that identity by the way you practice without tackling."
(When you worked with Kyle Shanahan and obviously his dad, what was the significance of the fullback to that offense and what impact has that had on your coaching philosophy?) – "It's been extremely impactful. I've been fortunate enough since the year 2005 to be in the same structure of offense and this will be my seventh team. From the starting point of Day 1 installation, I've had a fullback involved. One of the advantages of a fullback is that you have a backfield player that can give you different numbers on each side of the center depending on the direction he goes. If you're in just a normal dot formation, you have two eligibles on each side and then the halfback at home. When you're in the I-formation, is it 3×1 or is it 2×2? That's a starting point. It doesn't hurt that a lot of offenses have gone away from that only because with the historical experience that our staff has had, myself included, defenses aren't as adept at fitting those types of plays, whether they're runs or passes, and defending against it, which is a competitive advantage when you're able to find a fullback that – it's just not any ordinary human being or you must play with a fullback. You have to have an athletic player that is smart, can understand a lot of schemes and can read on the fly. When that position player plays fast, it can be pretty disruptive to teams that are not used to going against it."
(You drafted a quarterback this year. Every team has a different evaluation for collegiate quarterbacks when they're going through the process. What are the pitfalls teams need to avoid when going through the evaluation process? We have all of this information – more information than ever – on these college kids but teams still make mistakes. So what are the biggest challenges?) – "I think it's paramount that you just get good quarterbacks and avoid the bad ones. (laughter) It's like any other position. That's the hardest part of football is when you're selecting players to play in a game that's slightly different. There's compounding variables for success. Does your quarterback benefit from having a fast-paced, very fast highly-skilled group of eligibles? What kind of situations is the existing coaching staff that he's playing in, what is the scheme like? What is he being coached? There are so many layers which makes this game beautiful, which makes scouting departments extremely relevant and makes it very tough. That's why you're not 100 percent on any position ever because it's an inexact science because you're dealing with human beings that are a product of their environment and you're forecasting what they're going to be in a completely different environment. There's like a laundry list of different things that can create success or failure in NFL games, so you just try to project what the things are that an NFL quarterback is going to be asked to do. I'm not sure when you watch NFL games but the pockets aren't huge. There's a lot of congestion, there's a lot of traffic going in and around quarterbacks. Can they play the position in high duress? Are they tough? Can they anticipate? Those types of things, you're looking at the college game that they're playing and try to extrapolate to an unforeseen future."
(I wanted to ask you about OL Connor Williams. We saw him working inside. Is that more of everybody cross-training or is that a realistic option for him? And how much of that experience was part of the reason why you guys explored signing him?) – "When you're training a player, specifically one that has inside flexibility – he's played center in preseason games – and you're trying to train and you have a multitude of linemen that have position versatility, there's not a greater way to learn intricacies of the offense than by starting with different alignments and assignments. Namely the center position, you have to make a bunch of calls so you have to really know what everyone is doing. So it doesn't hurt to – you don't ever want to put a ceiling on and decide before you see them play within your system exactly where – you want players to decide that for you. It's something that an offensive line, you guys have been around the NFL game long enough, there's so many things that can happen and you're only as good as your versatility within the NFL framework of a season. It only benefits the Miami Dolphins if you're able to play a multitude of positions. We felt one of those positions for Connor would be center."
(You guys brought in a handful of receivers this offseason in kind of the same vein of guys that can play multiple positions – the X, the Z and the slot. Is that kind of the same idea at the receiver position, how they see the game from different spots and their flexibility at those positions?) – "Primarily, first and foremost, we're looking for good football players. I know our coaching staff has learned over the course of their careers and I have extensive experience in the fact that the more you know, the more versatility that you have and the more that you can isolate and take advantage of matchups in a given week. I think Chris (Grier) shares the same view as I have, where there's a degree or allure or attractiveness to football players that can do a multitude of things. That makes them – remember, they're a cog in a wheel of efficiency, that you're trying to create on both sides of the ball. It's the ultimate team sport in that you have the most players working in unison at the same time, as well as it's a game of inches, as we know, where the most minute shortcoming of technique or the best execution of technique can be the difference between winning and losing games."