Read the transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Friday, November 25, 2022.
(We saw RB Raheem Mostert on the injury report with a knee yesterday not able to practice. Is he out Sunday? Do you know how the injury happened?) –"It's something that he's working through. I would never completely rule Raheem (Mostert) out. But I think it's a little uphill battle that we're just like days away in terms of whether or not he can. If he doesn't, he'll be close. But we'll just have to do the smart thing. I'm not willing to bet against that guy. But also, we're having to be very mindful to protect him from himself as well. So that's about all I got him that one."
(Week 12, with a win, you're going to have the chance to end the month of November undefeated. How much do you think the layoff has had an effect? Or are you all still focused on maintaining that focus throughout this entire month to finish the job?) –"You never know how a team is going to handle a bye week. Every team is different and you're always very observant, for me at least, on any team activity right after a break because you don't know. And what I found out about our team is the hunger and the thirst for the NFL season and going to compete together and continue to work on their game has not left them at all, regardless of how much they had at Thanksgiving. They've really come back and practiced the way you would hope. So I think that changes all the time, and you just don't know until you're in it. But I've been very happy with the way they've approached their job, and I think that has something to do with all the effort and just collective contribution from everyone to get to a game that you actually feel like maybe we're close to looking like we want to look like in all three phases. That always varies on the people that are in that locker room. This particular locker room, if I was a betting man, I'd bet it would have worked out the way that it did in terms of them coming back with full steam and that eagerness and addiction to the continued drive to move forward in the season. You never know, but I feel very good about where we're at."
(How big of a talking point this week has it been for you with your players to not overlook a Houston team that's coming in with a very bad record?) –"With our team, I didn't have to make that big a deal about it, because they know where I stand. This is something that you address early in the season, and you try to frame to the team really what are we doing? We're trying to progress and get better as a team each week, and you do that through very good prep and detailed prep for an opponent. But who we're playing doesn't matter. What matters is that we continue getting better at what we do and try to win football games in the process. Now they know – I love to throw ideas or facts or ratios at them. How much sense does it make to ever work, I don't know, what would you say, 250 to 300 days together, trying to perfect the craft and be as good as we can at what we do, you have 17 (opportunities) and you take one off. So that that didn't make any sense from the jump. On top of that, the idea of being entitled to winning a football game is nothing that this team would ever enter into, because it is it is a quick learning lesson when you do that in the National Football League, especially with a team like the Texans where they play hard. I think you guys know, literally last year, teams that play hard through a lot of losses are dangerous. You do not bait fate and say, 'Hey, you know what? We want to learn a hard lesson. Come punch us in the mouth.' That's not something that – this team plays hard, and if you give them an inch, they'll do what teams do every single year. We don't want to be one of those teams. So I haven't had to really focus too much on it, because you focus on the tape. At this point in the season, conducting the same type of meetings each week, how we prepare for opponents, the tape doesn't lie. We're not studying win-loss columns; we're studying how our opponents play, and they play hard and will do what any NFL team will do if you take them lightly, which is make you learn a hard lesson that we don't want to learn."
(T Terron Armstead and P Thomas Morstead, likely available?) –"'Stead.' They're steady. I'd steadily – I'd say that would be a likely scenario. I feel good about both of those guys this week. (laughter)"
(RB Salvon Ahmed has seven games played and RB Myles Gaskin has two. I'm assuming special teams play a key role in that particular decision. What will factor into the decision to use one or the other as needed on Sunday as a running back?)– "It's important that you give guys opportunities. I think that if it plays out that way, and I think you're saying, 'Alright, well assuming Raheem is down,' which these are things that aren't known to be fact, but I will play the exercise because I get what you're saying. In that event, they both get opportunities. I think that one thing that the public doesn't know that our team knows is that Myles Gaskin has been doing some really good stuff and was one of those core character people in your locker room doing things the right way. The whole team really, really gets behind him. Both those guys have done a really good job and give us versatility. We've had to make some decisions because of special teams, but very confident in 'SA' (Salvon Ahmed) as well. So what you do in those situations is you make sure you give people opportunities, and then those who make the best of their opportunities get more opportunities. I think that's something that will always be the case here with us because I think it's a very, very important part and a fixture of your football team is that people get opportunities to really – whenever there is a situation where, maybe somebody else can get a ball, you don't make those decisions in your mind. You let them make those decisions on the field. So that's how it will kind of play out if that's the scenario."
(I wanted to ask you about WR Tyreek Hill. You've spoke a lot about his leadership and what he's done since he's come here. I wanted to ask you with the position you're in and the stretch coming up here, how much do you think his experience is going to help? How much do you think the players are going to lean on his experience and that help for the rest of the season?) –"Whatever you'd assume, it's probably that and a little bit more. That stuff is very, very real, and that goes with all the veterans, but him in particular. I think that's what's awesome about Tyreek (Hill) is that he knows that he's been places that some guys haven't. And when that's the case, either it's an extra responsibility of how do you handle the different climate and how do you make it as normal as possible? These are things that it's not just him, but he's an elite example. But it's very important for you, on young teams, to, if afforded the opportunity, have guys that have done those things, so you can kind of create a situation where, and I know Tyreek looks at it like this, maybe some of these guys haven't. But when you lead a certain way and you're able to exemplify, you prepare in a very similar manner, all the preparation and all this stuff that you're building right now when you get to those games, that should allow you for it to be as normal as possible, but you need a tone setter. That's a responsibility that he's excited about. Although a lot of a lot of guys are young, you can create a situation where guys can feel a little bit more comfortable like they have been there, as long as your leadership approaches the right way and understands where guys might be a little nervous. Uncharted territory always makes people a little uncomfortable, but I'm very confident that as we progress, we're putting pressure on ourselves every week, in terms of how we perform, how we prepare and how we're accountable to each other. So that shouldn't – in hopes of that not being as big a deal, and those two things in connection should be pretty good for us. I know speaking specifically to Tyreek, he's pretty excited about that."
(For the second consecutive game, you're facing a team for which you previously worked. With that in mind, how significant would you say your stop at Houston was in the progression of your coaching career?) –"The time in Houston was – it was pretty much the start. I started in Denver but it was instrumental with Coach (Gary) Kubiak. I lived on North Braeswood down on 610 Loop. Iwas like a 23-year-old that was like, 'What is this flat place? Coming from Colorado. It was very humid and there's these weird highways that you could do a u-turn underneath, and I was like, 'What is going on?' But hugely impactful. I got my first vision of what problems you have to encounter in year one of a coaching staff. Going in with Gary Kubiak that first year, that was the first of several times that I've had to understand all the things that have to get done when a transition is made in that way. And then it was a lot of fun. I was part of the front end where we lost some heartbreaking games. But there was one in particular where you learn lessons for your entire career. One of the coolest victories we ever had in my career was I think in 2006. We were at home and it was the last loss Indy had before they won the Super Bowl that year. And they were rolling. But there was a team that was hungry. That was probably like Week 13 in the year and there's been a lot of losses, and we were able to make some plays and beat a team that was really, really hard to beat. That sticks out in my mind as much as any big game that I've been in. It was awesome, my time there. The organization was great to me. They got me used to sweating a lot. It prepared me for here, for sure. So that is cool. But as far as two consecutive weeks, to be honest, I didn't realize that until you said it just because I'm not really thinking about my own journey and what I'm doing. I'm more thinking about the Miami Dolphins and it probably would be a little weird, or I might have thought of that if they were road games, going back there. But outside of that, it's just another opportunity for the Miami Dolphins to try to get better."
(When you talk about passing game, you mention timing. Of all the elements involved in the passing game, where does timing rank?) – "For me? One. It's just how I see really football, that I feel like there's the idea of having a depth on our route is, to me, the only reason you have it is so that you can time up with the quarterback so you can get the ball to him out of the break. And I think in the NFL, it is immensely important because the windows are tighter, the potential for catastrophic drive-ending bad things happening because you're late so a defender can recover or you're taking too much time and then getting sacked. It's really everything. And I think a lot of times, with the compounding variables of football, there's a lot of times that offensive lines get blamed for certain productivity or the black and white sack number. But there's a lot that goes into the pass game and all those things. If your timing is right, you can really minimize all the issues that occur, and all the risks that occur, when you pass the ball. And if you live in that world and the players command the timing of all those things, then you can feel a little bit more – you can feel a little bit more at liberty to pass the ball because it's less of a risk if you don't have to incur sacks, interceptions and all those bad things that come with it. So yeah, it's an important one to me."
Have you guys achieved this timing that you have now on schedule, according to what you thought? Or a little quicker, a little slower?) –"I think when you see our pass game specifically execute at its highest level, that's when the timing of the offense is at its highest. That's when we're able to take advantage of all our resources and skills that we have on the team. But that is not a – it's not like you get to a spot and you're good. It's actually quite the opposite. That's a 'How are you going to be this drive, this half, this week?' You have a good week and then turn the page to the next week and it could go the complete opposite direction if it's not minded with all the importance that it should be. So that is literally something we never ever ever stop working on, because if you prioritize it, you should probably work on it, right?"
(Do you expect to have LB Jerome Baker on Sunday? He's been limited as well on the injury report.) –"Is this the second MacGruber drop in the last two weeks? 'Never ever say never ever.' I feel pretty good about him but that doesn't mean that something can't change. I have a pretty good relationship with 'Bake.' I really, really like him as a as a person and he's a big contributor to our team. I know he's – having not been a Miami Dolphins coach and not had his availability, it's kind of uncharted territory for me. So I feel optimistic, but I'm very aware that it is uncharted territory. So we will see. You're not going to say, 'Well, you said,' and I told you so because I don't know."
(I saw Saudi Arabia and Japan had big World Cup upsets. Do you watch any of that soccer stuff?) –"I guess this can answer the question for whether we're taking the Texans lightly or not. The World Cup is my favorite non-football sporting event ever, just because of all the things that go into it. I find it so interesting how there's no shortcut to having a good team. The teams that are the best are the ones that are able to work together and get a feel for each other. And then on top of that, it blows my mind as a football coach – I already think it's wild to work 300 days for 17 shots. When you're talking about you have four years or whatever and then you're talking about these great elite players only getting a handful of (opportunities), wow. I mean, the stakes, there's not any bigger. But the reason why I bring that up is I didn't know or I didn't remember that the World Cup was going on until I was walking to walk-through on Wednesday, and I saw it on the screen. I was like, 'Oh my god, that started on Monday.' It's one of the things I've watched every event. We've never had had one now (in November). So in the summer, I watch every single (match) – it doesn't matter who is playing, just because I find it so interesting. I literally have no idea what's going on. I do know that I will be able to catch one game, but I'm way behind on it. I have no idea who's on any team. And I'm just like I can't believe I just missed all this. But I did."
(You mentioned in the past how much you like watching edge rushers play. I know you're focused on the game, but do you enjoy individual watching individual matchups sometimes within the game, like going up against Titus Howard or Laremy Tunsil, for your guys?) –"I guess you can't really watch an individual matchup. But I enjoy the execution within a game. You kind of feel everything. And when you're putting a plan together, you know where you're vulnerable, where things should go or where issues can come from. And also with the amount of reps and the same offense, I know if something comes from the left, and it's a drop-back protection and the turn is to the left, there's an issue between the guard and center as an example. So I don't get to really do that. Defensively, I get a little bit more just because I'm not calling it, so I'm listening, observing and then kind of getting my thoughts for the next series. But I really, really enjoy it and magnify it in team settings. When there's some very competitive individual matchups versus very good players, I think that is the name of the game. I think that is what pushes the winners and losers in this sport. When you have an elite player and then you happen to have another elite player and they are going against each other, generally that matchup has a factor in the overall outcome and there's nothing cooler than that. So all of that, I do enjoy. It's definitely not as much live but it's featured on days after the game and in team settings because it's a really cool thing that we get every week because there's always good players and there's always tough matchups. And I know as competitors, our players really enjoy that too."