Read the full transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on November 3, 2023.
(Anything else happening for you in Germany so far? When you last spoke to us it kind of seemed like you were having a normal work week while just in another country.) – "Nothing's changed, however, my wife and daughter I think have just arrived. Haven't seen them yet. We'll probably see a sight. There's a zoo with a baby elephant that I've heard about, but no updates since then."
(How has T Terron Armstead's practice week been and is activating him in consideration or is it more appealing to give him the two weeks with the bye to follow?) – "It's been so far so good. We still have a day to assess that and we're not going to get ahead of ourselves. But it's been very encouraging and feel optimistic, but have to just see how today plays out to make sure that there's no setbacks because we feel very good about all the offensive linemen we play. There's a long season so there's no reason for him to be pressing through something that might hurt him in the long run. We'll assess it today."
(I'll just wrap up the key injuries if we could with center, right guard and WR Braxton Berrios) – "So center, Connor Williams has had an outstanding week of practice. It ended up being very fortuitous that Liam Eichenberg played really well last week and afforded him another week of get right. He hasn't had any setbacks so feel good about that. I think we're going to do a one for one, Rob for Rob. Rob Hunt will be out and so we should see Rob Jones in there at left guard. Braxton Berrios, proud of that guy because inherently, in his nature, he's got that aggressive walk-on mentality. We've been working together, really since he got here, about communicating appropriately and not fighting through things that might make him worse. It was proactive. He felt a little something. It wasn't a full injury so we're going to test it out today and see how it goes. Optimistic with him."
(At risk of getting a one-word answer, what words would you use to describe your team. And if it is a one-word answer, please expand.) – "Hmm, well you did say 'words.' (laughter) That's plural. I think 'deliberately joyful' and maybe 'accountable' and 'hungry.' So there's several words."
(Could you expand on deliberately joyful? They enjoy all the process, the games? What do you mean by that?) – "Maybe it's 'joyfully deliberate,' would be more appropriate because they enjoy the process of really being critical of technique, having a high standard with which they try to practice their craft and enjoying hard work. I think one step that we've made as a team this season as opposed to last is understanding the value of the work week and how you can get game reps in practice. It really is the same for all sports. You hear about great players and their unique practice intensity and you hear about great teams that have that mindset of controlling what they can control and really getting everything out of the day. This 2023 version of the Miami Dolphins really enjoys working on things that will prepare them for Sunday. As a result, I think they feel prepared. We are playing a game. It is our job and it's a high-stakes job, but it's still playing. They're able to find that happy balance of enjoying what they're doing but taking it very serious at the same time."
(Your introduction on the first press conference went viral. Have you adjusted to German humor yet, you mentioned you arrived earlier to Germany? And on a more serious note, both the Dolphins and Chiefs are huge teams with big aspirations this season with some dominant displays. But after this weekend, the losing team will be just one game away from some teams like, let's say the Steelers and maybe the Browns that probably not maybe people would have seen coming at the start of the season. Does that say more of how competitive the NFL is or is this season even more crazier than usually how it gets?) – "Okay, so twofold. The former question, my intent is never to go viral and honestly, if I say something in jest that nobody laughs at, sometimes that's the funniest outcome for me. So I pay it no mind. I'm not trying to be anything but myself. I'm very aware that sometimes myself doesn't come off hilarious to everybody and it is what it is. Then as far as NFL parity, you're hitting on one of the things that is at the crux of – every team's battled during the course of the season. Unique to football, you have a limited schedule. You have now 17, what was once 16, games with a lot of buildup. You have a whole offseason of buildup and there's a week between each game so there are a bunch of narratives that occur, whether you win or you lose. I'll tell you what's going to happen with the Miami Dolphins; they lose, we can't beat good teams. We win, we're going to win the Super Bowl. None of it matters. You have to be your best when your best is required and that's when there's elimination games. So you're trying to build towards that and take advantage of every opportunity to best service yourself for the situation at the end of the season. There's a lot made up of each and every game. Quite literally this is 1/17th of the season, that's how important it is. If it was Major League Baseball, it would be 10 games. That would be five games in the NBA. But at the same time, let's say for instance, we were able to beat the Chiefs and had the best game of our year this week. What does that mean? It means we're 7-2. That's all. Does seven wins get you into the playoffs? Probably not. Does it matter if you climax right now and go, yeah, cool regular season win. It's very important, but at the same time, the biggest thing is you're progressing during the season. So when push comes to shove and it's win or go home, which inevitably, you're either trying to make the playoffs, at some point it's an elimination game, or you're in the playoffs and it's an elimination game, you better be your best then."
(I am from France, so pardon my accent. You are practicing here in Frankfurt in the Frankfurt Galaxy facility, which is an ELF team or European League Football Team. Are you familiar with the ELF? Have you ever watched a game? Are you familiar with European American Football or not at all?) – "Well, first of all, you don't have to apologize when you're speaking a second or third language. Hats off to you. I know one and I'm not very proud of that. Secondly, not really very familiar with the game and I follow international stuff but I struggle to keep up with the weather. I can't keep up with worldly sports. I'm sure it's a high-quality sport and really, I regard all professional sports because you have to be pretty good for people to pay to watch you."
(First I wanted to ask what were your thoughts on WR Tyreek Hill being named player of the month following Tua? First time in team history having back-to-back players of the month. And secondly, the origin of the Friday song, I know today's Friday so I should expect to hear it out there.) – "There's nothing better in really all walks of life than watching people get rewarded for hard work. Everybody knows that Tyreek is fast and he's a freak athlete in that way. But the only way you're a player of the month is it takes an inordinate amount of focus, of dependability. There's just so many hours of work to be able to perform at that level when every team you play knows you're trying to get the ball to him. He sees creative coverages all the time. It speaks to him, it speaks to really the whole offense. I see it as kind of a team award in that way because I know it doesn't matter how cool of a route he runs or how awesome he is with the ball in his hands. For one, the quarterback has to get it to him and two, the quarterback has to have enough time to do so. I think it speaks to a lot of work from a lot of different people. It speaks to the health of the – really the work ethic of the entire side of the ball. And I think all the players look at it that way too where that recognition, they feel a piece of and I know Tyreek feels that same way. It's a cool honor to have and you enjoy when people's hard work gets recognized. And then two, being an outside the box thinker, having a song that says 'Friday' on Friday, boom. It's just a thing. We're kind of creatures of habit. You have a routine that you have to really – you almost have to religiously abide by a routine to be able to be effective in a team sport with 11 people on the field at the same time trying to work in one direction. Little elements of routine go a long way. Friday is Friday for everyone. It's a heavy work week for players, coaches, support staff. I'm not even sure if people like the song, they just like the routine of the song, so we keep it going."
(The game is global. We're here playing the game we love. Now flag football is in the Olympics, it's an Olympic sport. Would you like at some point of your life to become the head coach of the U.S.A. team of flag football? I'm not in charge but I'm just asking.) – "I would like a lot of things. I'm just trying not to get fired at my current job. But I'm really excited about the fact that there's an element of football in general, whether it's tackle or flag, that really speaks to the core principles of life, about controlling what you can control and being able to handle adverse situations and working really hard and then experiencing failure. I think a lot of people can relate to that. I think there's a lot of life lessons in the game of football and really expresses how no one does anything in the world by themselves quite honestly. I think the game of football really speaks to that. There's always, regardless of how ambitious you are or talented you are, there's always some sort of avenue. There's certain things that you've learned from people that you've taken. Regardless, people can really learn from team sports because it's exactly applicable to I think lift life. And the more people that are exposed to, in my opinion, one of the greatest team sports that have ever existed, I'm happy that the world is embracing the game that way. Because once you've made it to the Olympics, you've been embraced."
(WR Tyreek Hill said he was a bit pissed that he wouldn't face the Chiefs at Arrowhead. He seems like a passionate guy. From a coach's point of view, are you a bit relieved that you're facing the Chiefs here? Tyreek is facing the Chiefs here with less distractions?) – "I wouldn't say any of that factors in to any thought that I have. The idea is as a team you accept whatever the situation is. As a team, you embrace and you challenge. Arrowhead is a tough place to play. Ultimately, you want to be a team that it doesn't matter where you play. So my mindset, I really haven't thought about it like that. I'm more looking at it like what an opportunity – how cool is it, I can't remember the stats, I believe it didn't take long for this game to sell out, right? That's all you really think about. Okay, there's a demand or there's an interest. I can speak on behalf of the whole team, we're pretty honored to have people pay money, their hard-earned money, to come watch us do what we commit our professional lives to. I'm pretty sure the Kansas City Chiefs fanbase travels well. I'm sure there will be a slight element of Arrowhead, but I think this is a cool opportunity for us to compete in a place no one that has participated in this game – a place that no one has participated or we've never played a game here. That's good news for our industry, the NFL in general, and it's an exciting opportunity. I've never been to Europe. I'm a history major, this is awesome. Maybe I'll get to see a sight here soon. So great opportunity for everybody, and we feel very fortunate and it speaks to the health of the National Football League, I think."
(I wanted to ask you about the evolution of your scheme in terms of you started stuff last year running, I suppose kamikaze RPOs with QB Tua Tagovailoa making first-level reads but pushing the ball vertically down the field with post wheel and rail wheel. And into year two, the evolution has been so quick, and now you're much more condensed between the numbers. The routes look a bit different.) – "No, how awesome is this? Clearly you have an accent and you know exactly what you're talking about. I'm honored that you're watching our tape."
(There are even some Mike Shannahan elements in terms of Tua turning his back to the defense on play action.) – "Now you're just flexing (laughter)."
(But I just wanted to know in terms of the speed, obviously there's a reason for the evolution, but in terms of the speed of the revolution whether that was down to Tua's comfort level, whether it was down to your evolution as a play-designer or play-caller? Without wanting to do a Barry Jackson 2-for-1, whether or not you are working on the next iteration of the scheme to stay one step ahead of people like Chiefs Defensive Coordinator Steven Spagnuolo?) – "In principle, I don't really look at it as my scheme at all. It's the furthest thing from it. What it is, is we're taking elements of what people do well and trying to really lean into that. The evolution is really centered around finding out what your players are good at and evolving in that direction. So quite literally, the scheme is a result of the players. In terms of that forecasting of being a schematic guru or something, I see it far from that. I think the product looks good because people know what they're doing, are fully invested in it. And yeah, there's some movement and things of that nature, but the orchestration only works because do you know how much deliberate practice it takes to time up motions with concepts and have footwork from the quarterback timed up with the footwork of the receiver and the aiming points of each combination block tied to the runner? All those things, from our offensive staff standpoint, were just opening our eyes watching our players and kind of adapting to them. So I think that's always kind of how I looked at it. Last year was tricky because you only know this much about your guys, and you're learning on the fly. You learn fast. Oh yeah, he doesn't like that or he's uncomfortable with that. Receiver, running back, right guard, you're doing the same thing, which is trying to utilize players' talents in a cohesive manner to be able as 11 people move as one. I think that the evolution of the offense, it really comes down to the coaches getting a better idea of what guys are good at and guys really truly going after the opportunity. Not being satisfied with results, but really chasing that unattainable level of perfection. When you have a group of guys that are never satisfied and always want to have, 'okay, what can I do better?' You have a chance to be your best selves for sure. That's what I think we're all seeing and we're all along for the ride watching our players play."