Read the full postgame transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022.
(Transcribed by ASAP Sports)
Q. What was the key for the season-high rushing output that you guys had out there today?
MIKE McDANIEL: There's no shortcut around it. It's something that you are very proud of as a coach because this entire group really dedicated themselves to the craft. It's tough. You come here. There was a lot of talk about our run game and just because of the past successes that I've been fortunate enough to have myself, and guys were excited about the system. When you don't have immediate results, you get to learn a lot about people. And in this particular circumstance we have a bunch of guys really working at the craft at a level that you need to really attack something when you are playing an opponent at the National Football League. So it was awesome to see that collective effort really bear fruit. That's a team accomplishment. It doesn't just involve the offensive players. You're talking about a lot of effort that goes in on the defensive side of the ball to give us the type of looks so that we can really hone in on the specifics to the defense. I was just happy with how everyone kept their head down and was grinding to, you know, earn that result because that's something that you can be proud of for the right way. You don't fall into that. That's months and months of strain and deliberate practice that you can be fortunate enough to have a day like that.
Q. The first half of the season we have seen Tua really having heavily target Jaylen and Tyreek. This was a game where Tua had eight different pass catchers. He threw touchdown passes to Alec Ingold and Trent Sherfield. What did you like about the way he kind of was able to distribute the ball to all of your offensive personnel?
MIKE McDANIEL: No, we've been waiting for a game like that. I think, first of all, Tua is playing very, very high-level football. It's phenomenal to watch him commit to the process. It's the third game in a row where I didn't feel a high or a low from him. He was just trying to execute each and every play. But it was rewarding and exciting because you can ask Tyreek and Waddle themselves. It's about a team and all of their production has to do with a team working in concert so that they can get those numbers. You play a defense that's bound and determined to make sure that those two individuals don't get as many targets; that leaves opportunities for everybody else. I was very happy that really the – it seems like the only in-house people really understand we have a good team, a good offense, a good defense, a good special teams. It's not just names. Hopefully you got to experience a little bit of what we've been witnessing inside of practice and out that we have a lot of players that can make plays. And when they're asked to step up and make a play, you saw a ton of examples of guys doing that, which we knew they were very capable of.
Q. Justin Bethel, he came in late in the game. What was your thoughts on his production on the back-to-back plays that he had?
MIKE McDANIEL: I can't say enough about that kid. Here's a guy that has been known in the National Football League as a special teams player, a very good one. All he has done since he has been here is do his thing on special teams and then make plays every time he is asked. We've had some injuries, given some opportunities, and he has stepped up to the plate and been around the ball. He competes, and he does a great job for us, so very, very glad that he is on our team.
Q. The defensive front, you all limited Nick Chubb and forced him to have his first fumble of the year. What's your thoughts on that frontline?
MIKE McDANIEL: That's something that we're pretty confident in, is our run defense regardless of what the stats say. There's been some games where we've had some quarterback runs really, really hurt us, but when you cut on the tape and when we're really looking at ourselves in a critical fashion, I feel like that's one of our strengths. It was a tremendous challenge. They do an unbelievable job in Cleveland to really dominate the time of possession and utilize one of if not the best runner in the league. So it was cool to watch our team rally behind that. They knew the challenge that was in front of them. They knew the thing about a good running team is you either have to stop them or you're going to have to deal with the consequences and it's a slow, slow death. There's no way around it. You can't hide. For them to have that effort and get after it, I was very proud of that.
Q. When you look at Tua's body of work over the last three games with nine touchdowns and no interceptions, 30 points scored for the team in each game, what is something that he is doing that maybe isn't so obvious to us or fans? What is he doing now?
MIKE McDANIEL: He is really seeing the field well. I think sometimes how fast he is playing and how fast he is processing, you cut the tape on it, it looks like he might be throwing to No. 1 or 2, but he is progressing through eligibles 1 through 5 in his progression with lightning speed. That's really making it frustrating for a defensive front. You're in pass rush mode and you can't get to them; that can wear on you. So he is doing a lot of things visually, manipulating defenders, making really good throws and getting the ball out. And when he is throwing into contested situations from time to time, he is putting outstanding ball placement, so I don't think we've had — it's probably, like, what, 90 pass attempts roughly in three games, and I don't think there's been a close interception or turnover. So you are talking about being able to have an aggressive style of football play where you can feel comfortable as an offense and as a coach to call a pass play and know you're not going to give the defense it back. Those are just some of the things. Then the biggest thing for me with Tua specifically is it would be impossible to see on game tape, but the whole team in the last month has taken an unbelievable jump in accountability, how they prepare and how they just go about doing their jobs. He is one of the main reasons that that is occurring. He has really come into his own skin in regards to being a leader at the quarterback position. Guys are rallying around him. He is demanding a standard and holding himself at a tremendous high standard himself. So those are just a couple of things. We could have a Tua press conference if you wanted. Very happy with him.
Q. Going back to August, probably the most questioned area of the team might have been the offensive line. Clearly that's come together, and they've played well, culminated by a great performance today. Can you talk about how the offensive line as a whole has come together this season and really played quite well?
MIKE McDANIEL: We felt pretty good in training camp. You're going against one defensive style when you are making your assessments. Really OTAs and training camp we felt good about the progression. Then I felt that once we started playing the season, the adaptation to the different nuances of defensive front play and structures and adjusting week by week with your concepts and such, I thought we showed our youth. What's been tremendous, led by the coaching staff, specifically Frank Smith and (Matt) Applebaum and (Mike) Person and 'Lem' (Lemuel Jeanpierre) really is you've gotten into a groove of how to properly prepare for the specifics of what a defense can present, but then most importantly above all else – that's all good and fun, but you've seen an offensive line group that has made the decision to be all in and really own the techniques and fundamentals that are necessary to win. It's a beautiful process when you talk about players getting better during the course of the season because it's so hard. And so when you see players and groups of players coming together and getting better during the course of the season, to me that's what the name of the game is. It's the hardest thing, but it's the most important thing when you are talking about an entire season.
Q. Tua was asked about you and how you have helped this team become successful. He says you're the man of the people. What does that mean to you that this team has bought in week by week to what you have brought to the table?
MIKE McDANIEL: Everything, you know? It's them that are choosing to buy in. I think you can do a ton of really cool things in the National Football League if you can somehow get an entire building, an entire roster, to move in one direction. And that is way, way easier said than done. It doesn't matter what my messaging would be or what my beliefs were. It doesn't matter if they were really awesome or really terrible. It doesn't matter if a bunch of individuals decide to be all in on it. They have to choose that they want to hear it and then they have to choose that they want to listen to it. So it goes back to the fact that you have incredible, young, hungry individuals that collectively are getting the taste of the fruits that bear when you sacrifice together and are able to accomplish a common goal. So I think that it means everything to me because I know that's the formula for any sort of success that you're chasing, but it also makes me feel unbelievably indebted to those players because I know that that is not something that any one person can force people to do. They have to choose that they want to go a certain direction. Once they make that choice, if there's enough people involved, can you do some pretty cool things because it's hard to win in this league and you can have some games where you can win and against a very good team that had a good game plan on both sides of the ball. You can be able to win comfortably earned in the fourth quarter. But I'm just very, very happy with the captains, the leadership council and just really all the players for committing to a cause that they're starting to see how worth it it is.
Q. The previous two weeks you had to win in shoot-outs. You had earlier games where the defense had to pick up the offense. How gratifying was it to have this type of complete performance?
MIKE McDANIEL: It was nice. This being our seventh win, I think it was hard to get comfortable in the previous six. There's a reason for that. It's the parity of the National Football League and how good teams are and how you can't sleep on any opponent. It just takes an incredible amount of detailed work to be able to as a team be able to beat a team at home like this that was coming off a bye. They were not sleeping on us whatsoever, and they really wanted to get after our team and build on that last one they had against Cincinnati. So it's what it's about. You want to bottle that because have you that type of commitment and effort throughout the week. You'll have a chance versus anybody regardless who you play if you have an entire locker room, coaching staff, and organization committed in the way that they were this past week.