Read the full postgame transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022.
(Transcribed by ASAP Sports)
(Do you have any status update on T Terron Armstead's injury?) – "I don't. Didn't get any hue as far as how serious it would be, so we'll find out more tomorrow. Same with Austin (Jackson)."
(Just to add to T Terron Armstead, this was not a situation where he would've come back in the game if the game was [closer]?) – "Not that I was aware of, no. That was an injury that regardless of the score was going to keep him out for the game."
(I don't know if it was causation or correlation, but when he left, the pass protection broke down a little bit. Were you guys scrambling a little?) – "No. We were struggling to a degree. I think I would have a part in that as much as anybody really. There were some play calling decisions that I definitely learned from. I put some guys in some unfair situations, was way too aggressive, and it was something that I told the team after the game that I'll definitely learn from because it wasn't fair to them. When you do have some lineup changes, you can't play the way that — or put them in situations they were put in. I don't think that was a fair representation of the group in general, even if there was some lineup changes. They were able to tee off, and we hadn't established the run game, and it kind of put the tackles in some real, real tough situations, and so something that we'll all get better from it. The good thing about this group of players in that locker room is they'll hear me say that I need to get better in that situation, not put those guys in that situation again, but the players will take the accountability, as well, and know that they can work on their techniques to make sure that if I did it again that they would perform better."
(Just overall what's the feeling of going into December football knowing that everything you want to accomplish is in front of you?) – "There is nothing better in professional football than meaningful December and January games. Nothing better. I'm very excited for our young team and a lot of guys to feel that for the first time. I think it was important that guys looked at this game through the lens of establishing good position for that competitive playoff run. We've got six games left, and there's no — you have to learn on the job live. The more that we bring intensity and focus to each and every game knowing that they're all going to count for whether or not we're able to be in the playoffs, whether or not we're able to have home games, all of those things that you want as a team; you have to earn it down the stretch. This is as fun as it gets. I'm really juiced for the guys. We have a team that's very tight, that is very ambitious and is willing to work for it, and that's all you could ask. Very happy. Very happy with that. You just wish we could have times'd the first half by two, as opposed to dividing it by zero. (laughter)"
(You mentioned accountability. Over the bye week Jason Sanders, very critical of his own performance this year. He comes in today perfect on field goals, on PATs. What would you say about his accountability and his performance?) – "That is the coolest thing about sports — I guess the second-coolest thing in sports because I just said the coolest thing was… (laughter) Right? So the second-coolest thing in sports is overcoming adversity. Like I said last week, I fully expected that. He's given me no reason to think otherwise. But it is to his credit, that is not always the case at that position. It's such a finicky, off a quarter of an inch with your strike or your plant foot or anything; and you find it tough to get it through the uprights. That's very meaningful and I think he just reiterated and reestablished the respect he already had in the locker room. Everybody had that expectation. No one really even thought twice. I know I didn't hang on the field goal, on the field goals when we were attempting them. I fully expected him to drill them and he did, so happy with that and happy for him."
(We heard that you showed Tua a 700-play highlight reel as part of I guess your introduction to him…?) – "Who are you talking to? Who's your source?"
(Broadcast. Can you talk to us about that, the process of putting that together and what made you want to do that for him?)" – "You try and put yourself in other people's shoes as best you can. I think that's an important component to being a head coach. No one really — I think it's hard for people to truly wrap their head around what it is to be a quarterback in the National Football League in terms of you talk about as much pressure as one could ever have. You have all these teammates depending on you to do the right thing on every play. People are trying to tackle you full-speed while you're making split-second decisions and you're in charge of making sure that our plus-minus turnover ratio is right. That is a hard, hard job. Not to mention, this just in, anybody that's drafted as a quarterback in the top 10, top five, they want to be good. They want to be good with the — I would not want to trade places or wish any sort of — anybody really to be drafted super high and then fall short of the franchise's expectations. That is a tough place to live in. That was the motivating factor behind everything. You acknowledging that, understanding that, wow, it's hard enough to play an opponent. I'd better make sure there's a lot of things that are telling me that this player may not have the confidence that he should, so instead of getting mad at that or doing anything, it was incredibly important that anybody that would listen would be able to see from a starting point, not just watch the FaceTime where I'm like, 'yeah, you're going to be a great player.' To actually know, and it was easy; he had the stuff on the tape. I think that's a credit to him. To his credit, he's really listened, taken the coaching that he's good. Said 'okay, Coach, I believe you.' And I think you guys have seen the residuals up close and personal for a while."
(To follow up quickly, were you aware or at what point were you aware that his confidence had dropped that low from last season?) – "This was not going off of straight fact. This was just using intuition, that getting beat up and having your existence be completely tainted by people saying that you aren't X, Y or Z, and then on top of that, from my vantage point, I felt like he was put behind the 8-ball in a way with the — basically his strengths, he couldn't play to. And so if you're not able to play to your strengths and your position that one of the reasons you've gotten there is you're an unbelievable point guard, I felt, how could he, with all the things going on. It's a lot of loud noise that you try to ignore, but people are human. It was intuition, and it started seeing him every practice once he started getting a little bit more confidence each and every day. You could see his personality evolve and that's when I learned kind of how deep it was, because I'm learning his personality – the first day I meet him is who I know him as, and then you fast forward a month and a half, and he's a different guy. Then retroactively, like wow, that was real. It's not like he admitted it, either, to me at the time, live speed. This is something that I think he — all he did was just come to work, buy in, listen, and then do what he could control instead of worrying about any of it. He chopped wood, got with Coach Bevell and Chandler Henley, and they've not done anything but tried to work on technique, fundamentals, and how to play the position at an elite level, and they've done an outstanding job with that, and henceforth we were 8-0 with him. Or I guess he didn't finish the game, but you guys get it. (laughter) He wins a lot."
(Undefeated month for you all, 4-0, what does that mean to you finishing the month of November undefeated?) – "You know, I think it means a lot because it wasn't just handed to us; it's earned. And I think in the process, the five wins that we've had in a row or the month that we've won, it means a lot because I know it wasn't gifted to anyone and that they did things the right way, and that shapes the way you do things moving forward. We found different ways after the three-game losing streak that we identified, looked ourselves in the mirror and were very candid about how we can correct, really challenged the leaders of the team, the captains and the leadership council, and those guys have really taken it and ran with it, as well as the coaching staff. We knew we had higher expectations than what was happening to us in the three-game losing streak and thought we should have a better record. So instead of, well, if, but or when; no, you take those experiences and you do something about it and that's what I'm happy about, is that every single win was through blood, sweat and hopefully not too many tears, but there may have been. And you know what, I have a low, small shoulder that people can cry on. I'm good for many things."
(Going back to your old stomping grounds in San Francisco, how long will you enjoy this one before you turn the page to a team you're very familiar with?) – "Yeah, I'm just trying to — can I get a day? You do not want to take anything for granted in this league. If you get a win, it does not matter. Every team is trying tooth and nail to beat you. You can get delusional in the wrong way if you just move past it. For me, I'll worry about our next opponent tomorrow and that's who it will be, is our next opponent. A lot of people have teeth in this league. You go a bunch of different places, but I promise you that next week will not be about me. I refuse for that to happen. This is about the Miami Dolphins and trying to string another win together because tomorrow I'll be excited to go after nine wins. Right now I'm just excited about eight."
(In your work to inject confidence, for lack of a better term, back to Tua, when you look at the timeline, was there any moment that you said, okay, now he said something or did something that you said, okay, he's getting to be the guy that we know he can be?) – "I think within the offseason there were some — it was definitely in OTAs, and there was a particular practice in general that he made some plays going against our defense that — we've been running a very similar offense, a starting point, the same offense since 2006 or so, so there's core concepts within it that you build from. It may look different, but the principles are the same. There were several plays in, I think a practice in May, that for the 12 or 13 years of cut-ups of running said play, I didn't have one example of a quarterback being able to pull off a play that he did. So going over the top with that and then his teammates in an authentic way gravitating to him and really, really being excited about very good quarterback play, once he did that, he flipped and never went back. It wasn't wishy-washy, it wasn't back and forth; it was more that you just had to scratch and claw to break through something and once he did, he was good to go."
(There's a back and forth that goes on with the o-line and Tua where Tua has to make plays in kind of an adequate amount of time to help out those guys and vice versa. I guess if anything does happen to Terron long-term and you're playing some time without Terron, how has Tua made it easier for the o-line and how is the o-line going to make it easier for Tua?) – "No, that's kind of one of those reasons I'm so accountable for my part in the end of the second quarter and the beginning of the third specifically, because it's a group effort that has to be committed towards getting the ball out and having timely concepts and then not putting people in position to be in harm's way. And I think that's something that you have to kind of tackle from the beginning of the week. I thought we had that in our plan. My biggest problem with the game was that I didn't really lean on those portions of the game plan. I kind of went rogue to a degree. I think that's something that we're all playing football together. Every team we play has very, very good players somewhere. The key is to try to figure out how to make sure those guys aren't the guys that beat you and then play sound football as a group, and that's what we'll continue to work on moving forward."