Read the transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Wednesday, November 23, 2022.
(It's clear that you and General Manager Chris Grier work well together, and you're both easy guys to get along with, so it's not surprising. But I was curious how the dynamic works in terms of when he signs a player, when the team signs a player, even if it's something as simple as a practice squad move, does he run everything by you? I'm sure he gives you a heads up, but does he ask your opinion on everything, both offensive and defensive signings? How does that work?) – "I think we both look at it like this – we have points of emphasis or expertise that the team relies on us for, but we also know how interwoven we are for anything that happens within the organization, player decisions, all of that. But the biggest and most important thing is that we respect, regard, trust and rely on each other. So I wouldn't say it's like anything we do, there's a steadfast procedure and (say), 'Hey, no you do.' It's assumed that everything we do that we're on the same page. If we're not, we have this brilliant formula of just talking. (laughter) I'm not sure. I can't speak on any of the relationships that people have outside of the relationship they have with me. But from the beginning when he was interviewing me, this is something that when someone is interviewing you and is part of the decision to hire you, I don't take that lightly. We do everything as a team in that regard, and the assumption is that we're on the same page with everything, and the second there's – That's the great thing is the second there's anything like, 'Hey, maybe he might not know this,' or, 'just to keep you up to date,' or whatever, I think we both view that as our responsibility to the organization, knowing that (in) a healthy organization, the people that are put in positions of authority have to be on the same page. It's like if you're running a run play, the quarterback and running back better know that's going to the right, or it doesn't matter what the right guard's block is. So I think that's kind of how we approach it, and it's a cool, deliberate and well-intentioned process. You always hope that you have a situation like that. You never know if you're going to be afforded that, but I feel so, so fortunate and lucky, because it is very easy, relatively to a lot of people's experiences, very easy to do my job, and hopefully I make his job easier as well."
(One quick follow-up on that. Do you remember back in February, did General Manager Chris Grier ask you for either in a conversation or a list of guys that you would recommend that he consider? Or did it come up organically? Like as an example, did General Manager Chris Grier just say to you, what about RB Raheem Mostert or what about WR Trent Sherfield, guys you're familiar with? Or did you actually give him a list of guys that you wanted him to consider?) – "I'm glad you asked that, because sometimes you lose sight of what people are aware of and what people aren't. But Chris (Grier) views a team the same way I do. He's very – he knows that he's only as good as his department, as his relationship with me – we only go as far as we take each other. So with regard to every potential free agent in the offseason, he leads a process that I firmly, firmly co-sign and I see the exact same way, where he has the scouts present the available players and you don't skirt anyone. You go through the process, because we're only as good as our scouting department is and empowering those people, giving them a voice because we want to hear it and we don't go in a locked room and make these decisions out of wherever. But we sit in a room, we go and allow everyone that we rely on to be part of the team to present their work (and) their opinions. You settle on it, and then once we go through that process in the room, we'll get back together and kind of go in a direction that makes sense. But I wouldn't – the best thing about our relationship is I don't think I've ever heard him nor have I said, 'Well, I decided this.' The subconscious leaks out when – and we do not see (it as) this is his show, this is my show. We know that we succeed or fail together, and we know that we are a percentage piece of when things are going right with the Miami Dolphins, that we contribute. But it's about the sum of all the parts. And I think that's something that just – maybe that's why he hired me because I see the same way as he does. I wouldn't know any other way to do it."
(I assume when you interviewed here, that was your first meeting was with General Manager Chris Grier, right?) – "Yes, it was a Zoom meeting. I'm not sure – it was an NFL Thursday before the divisional game in the playoffs last year."
(So how do they go in terms of one, did you come away thinking, "I've got a pretty good shot at this job?" And two, what told you about General Manager Chris Grier's words, that made you feel like, "Hey, I can really work with this guy?") – "Chris is a natural GM. Part of being a GM is – I don't even think he gambles, but if he did, he'd play poker. I knew that the first Zoom meeting went well when they scheduled a second meeting. You're hopeful, but like, this is my first rep, like what am I – and I'm on a digital screen. If you guys think I'm moderately presentable in live person, Zoom is not exciting. I'm terrible at it. But I got another opportunity. I was encouraged when – I'm much the same person all the time in all atmospheres. I'm exactly how I am now to you guys to the team and in the interview process. So while I'm going on long-winded answers, as I generally do, I'd slip in like a little – does it have to be funny to be a joke? An attempt at a joke or whatever. And he would laugh. So I was like, 'Alright, that's cool.' You don't know if it's a token laugh or whatever, but I felt good. He wasn't – it's his job to take in information and not rush to judgment really in everything. He's got to be prudent. That's why one of the things that really the Miami Dolphins benefit from, in our relationship as we do business, is he's thinking about stuff that he's not emotionally rushing to judgment. I didn't really totally know. It went a good amount of time, which I figured was a good thing. And then I started at the – I think it was like seven hours. I don't know, it was a while. And then I was at a point where like, 'Man, this is going kind of good. I'm scheduled to go on a flight tomorrow morning. Man, I've got to make sure they don't put me on that plane.' So I did every trick in the book to try make a joke, 'Hey, man. I'll just hang around.' I was feeling like I had a shot at that, and classic Chris and the crew, they sent me back home on a flight to go finish the process. So at that point, I felt great about – I was really, really, really hoping I'd get the job, not because of the obvious reasons, but specifically because I did see such a vision of like, 'Man, this is a perfect fit.' And I really wanted it, but I was at peace with the process because all of us involved, I feel like we were very transparent and authentic. It was very comfortable. It seemed natural, but you just never know. So that Sunday – I think it was Sunday, February 7, was brutal. Longest day ever, to the point that I fell asleep, waiting. We're watching the Pro Bowl. Then at 2:46 (p.m.) I got the call, and it was a game changer – Pacific time."
(I know we'll get an injury report later today, but two guys Monday who appeared to be working on the side, WR Trent Sherfield and CB Xavien Howard. Are you optimistic about them playing Sunday?) – "I feel very, very good about their deliberate intent. I feel confident that we're going to see some – I feel confident that there's a great chance that they'll be able to help us this Sunday. But you know, crystal balls break, so who knows."
(In Major League Baseball, there is always talk about how relevant or significant the win-loss record for a starting pitcher is because of external factors like run support. I'm interested in writing about the relevance of win-loss record as it relates to the quarterback.) – "I don't know which one is more relevant or less, but it's very similar because pitchers hold the ball for half the inning. Every time that your team is not holding a bat, you determine what's the next move with everyone. And like circumstances, quarterbacks, I don't think people quite give how difficult of a job a starting quarterback in the National Football League is or just quarterback in general. And why I say that is because you are touching the ball every play, even when you're not throwing it. The cohesion of your offense runs through you because your footwork in the run game has to be right, your cadence has to be right. And then on top of that, like a starting pitcher, compounding variables dictate narratives and people are human. And that can wear on someone when you're giving your best effort and a narrative comes up. Maybe sometimes you deserve it. Or maybe sometimes three people MA'd (missed assignment) and because of that you through a pick, or whatever it is. And if you're a good quarterback, it's even tougher because then you have to be a leader as well. And you have to live in a world where people are blaming you and you accept the blame to lead and protect your teammates. So I think that you can lose games for your team at quarterback. You can help win them. There won't ever be a win that you can do it in spite of a quarterback generally because you hold the ball every play and if you're turning it over, we know the ratios of that. But quarterbacks don't win or lose games. Starting pitchers don't win or lose games. But when you're playing at a high level, you can have as big of an impact as any person that relates to the Miami Dolphins – a player, coach, anybody. By nature you have as strong of an impact as any possible person. (You have) the biggest percentage piece of the pie because you have so much responsibility. Like the pressures of third down in a division game and a playoff game and a championship game, a Super Bowl, the pressures of facing the three- or four-hole hitter and the eighth or ninth inning. I mean these seasons are long. It's an incredible investment about half the year where you are putting your family and everything else in your life on the side. And it all culminates. It's not made for everybody. The percentages might be five or six percent that any team's ever done anything worthwhile without those specific people being very, very good."
(What are you willing to reveal about your plan for OL Austin Jackson on Sunday?) – "I don't feel like revealing anything. (laughter) I feel like today helping the competitive advantage for the team I coach. (laughter) I respect it but it doesn't make any sense for me to (reveal that). I get it. Just know that I'm super confident and very, very happy that we have taken our time (with Austin). He's in a place where he can make plays as an offensive lineman. We are afforded options with his versatility. But as long as there's no setbacks, I think you're going to see some of his best play here soon. He's done it the right way. He's earned it. He's in a good spot and I'm excited for him."
(What are you most thankful for this year?) – "I'm most thankful for? I'm always pretty thankful for things, but right now I'm seeping with it. I do have an issue about being long-winded. I'm going to try to be as tight as possible. And also, I don't want to get too emotional up here today. But right when you say it, 'what are you most thankful for?' Immediately (I go to) my wife and daughter. Especially since she's two now. I didn't really know that aspect of concrete support, family and fulfillment. People can't do anything by themselves. Anything at all. And while I'm able to fully invest in people in the organization and do my job, which is incredibly important to me, I'd have no chance without my wife. This parent thing is legit. And I'm sure there's some like 'just wait!' And I know. But right now she's two and thinks I'm awesome and wants to hang out with me. Then I'm so thankful for everything good or bad, and everything in between, that happened in my life to give me the opportunity to be here. Then again, I'd probably (talk for) 45 minutes if I don't … all aspects that I'm very, very aware of that. I can't do my job for the team, for the players for the people in the building, for the fan base, for the organization, if you don't have the right type of people deciding to go along the ride with you. I think it's idiotic for people in positions such as myself to be delusional enough to think that it has, that they're bigger than they are. It has stuff to do with you, but you are only as good as everyone that is involved in the process. It's fulfilling of a half of season. It's fulfilling as an offseason. I'm so fulfilled and thankful. And then on top of that, all of this happens, and I'm with a fan base that is as hungry but as appreciative as you could possibly have. I didn't have any idea about the Dolphins fan base really having been in six NFL divisions, but this being one of two that I hadn't been. And then the time, emotion, investment. There are scars and there are residuals for that. All I've seen are people that want to get excited. I've seen – okay, because you get vulnerable when you get excited. But to be able to do this job for this team for all these people, and then on top of that, have an informed, intelligent, passionate community, fan base, that really appreciates where you're at, but more than that, you can see people. You're able to – the outcome of games can affect people's lives. It does. And it's cool that we have a home-field environment that is outstanding. It's just really cool to see people want and be able to be excited about something that they love. I'm a softie for that. You guys remember that's where my roots start and I'll never really stray from that empathetic situation. Didn't I say I was going to be short? I feel like that was 10 minutes. But yeah, a lot to be thankful. I'm thankful for that question."
(What are your Thanksgiving dish power rankings?) – "Mashed potatoes and gravy are solid. I'm more ham than turkey, but the best Thanksgiving meal I've ever had, I think it was a fried turkey. I was like, 'what is this? Turkey that's not dry?' Those two. I'm not a huge eater, to be honest. Oh, corn on the cob is solid. That's a vegetable right? So I'm eating my vegetables? As long as they're not green or too healthy for you. (laughter)"