Read the full transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on November 5, 2023.
MIKE MCDANIEL: It's painful. Who wants to start off?
Q. The final offensive drive, what was the assignment there? What was the route for [wide receiver] Cedric [Wilson Jr.]?
MIKE MCDANIEL: You know, I think if I know my personnel well, [quarterback] Tua [Tagovailoa] is probably standing up here since he gets to talk before me and saying this, that and the other and it's on him. It wasn't. There's a lot that falls squarely on my shoulders. They were doing something that we had talked about, and the miscommunication is something that doesn't happen if I put them in the appropriate situation during the week. Tua didn't have time to observe. He signaled kind of one route, and that has a conversion, and Cedric interpreted it as another thing, and that's just things that when you're working together as a football team and you have the right effort and mentality from all your players that it's one hundred percent something that I can control personally.
I was very, very proud of the resolve. I'm very encouraged about the team. Just to be in that position on that final drive takes a lot of — there was a lot of expectations not met in the first half, and for those guys to — for the defense to shut them out in the second half and only allow 14 points and for us to be in that situation with one minute to go, I think that's the bigger picture from the players' perspective. I told the team that you don't have to worry about me learning from mistakes. It's going to be a hard one to digest, but we'll make it purposeful.
Q. Another game away from Hard Rock Stadium. What more can be done by you and the players to avoid all the miscues?
MIKE MCDANIEL: Yeah, these are things that we'll utilize in the bye week to make sure we emphasize. That's football. You're going to have things that — you're always going to have things to improve upon. That one is pretty obvious. And you know in this game that you're going to have to answer for results.
If you can simply put together a chart that shows production at home minus, I think the Carolina game in the first couple drives and then you're not getting on the road, you make sure to be self-critical for sure. But in terms of — we had a very good orchestration of practice. The orchestration of all the openers, I was very happy with the individual plays during the week, and when we actually go through them. We'll get to the bottom of it because that's our job. This is part of the NFL life. They get paid, too. That's a very good team. When you're not crisp, what other way can you really approach it besides self-assessing. There's definitely a part myself that I play in that, and it's my job to get it corrected.
Q. What can you say about the last offensive play and the shotgun snap?
MIKE MCDANIEL: That, it's hard to say, just live speed. I'm going to refrain from really attributing it to anybody. I'd have to kind of look at the tape to see were the skill positions set, did we get to the line fast enough, were we overcommunicating, was it the defense, were [quarterback Tua Tagovailoa] Tua's eyes up, how off target was the snap. All those things. There's a lot of snaps that we executed, so it's unfortunate that we had a miscue at that point in time, but these are all learning lessons. This is a journey that you go through in the NFL season, and like I've said multiple times before, the idea is to be your best selves and continue to grow and learn from certain things as you're put in different situations. That was a — we had the mentality of our team tested. I think you'd be hard pressed to say that our guys have ever put forth as much effort and commitment into the game of football as they are currently right now, and when you are falling way short of that for half of football, you learn a lot about people. My lesson is positive. I think from my perspective, as bad — there's a lot of this game that it's going to be hard for me to sleep on the flight home, and it's going to be a long time until we play our next game, but I will say that of all things, my first and foremost takeaway from the game is a multitude of things I can do better, but overall very satisfied with the way that our team handled stress. That's not a horrendous thing, either. You learn a lot — sometimes you learn the most with losses. You hate that it has to go that way. But I'm very, very confident in our team's commitment to each other, and I'm very confident that we will get better just as our practices and our attention to detail has drastically improved since the Buffalo game. These are hard lessons, but they're real in the NFL, and you have to be able to take in the pain and push it towards future joy if you're trying to be worth anything.
Q. Along those lines, we know the narrative about this team is (inaudible) against elite contenders.
MIKE MCDANIEL: You know, just that the overall mental fortitude of the collection of individuals, their commitment to this season and this organization and this team, and they show me every day. This is something that I think we're all very aware, and we knew going into the game that if we're going to lose what the narrative would be, and that's fair. We shouldn't feel entitled to high opinions from the masses. We have to earn that confidence, and we have to earn every — it also gives me a ton of confidence because I know that NFL games, each and every one of them, is tough. I think people undervalue poor records. It is hard to win in this league. To win in any right against any opponent is something not to take for granted. As long as you continue to get better, ultimately that narrative will subside. But that's on us collectively from coaches and players alike to — if you want the narrative to change, change the narrative.
Q.How important is perimeter blocking?
MIKE MCDANIEL: I mean, for all the high opinions of the — and really all the statistical — all of the positive things we do in the run game is attributed to a lot of things, but one of the most important things is how we have attention to detail on the perimeter, and teams when you have success getting the edge of the defense, they're very aware. They get paid, too. So, they'll present different problems that sometimes are new to your team. Working through those is a huge part of being a successful offense and a successful team. You know that people are going to address how you stress defenses in general, so you know that there's going to be something. The key is that you continue to build — you continue to really progress and build knowledge of your own system when people present new problems. I think hats off to the Kansas City Chiefs' defense. They came to play. They were very, very competitive. They gave us some problems that we had to work through. I thought we did a solid job of that as the game went on, and we gave — I called more runs, and we got to work through those problems. I would say that's been a strength of ours, and I think I was proud of how the guys — you always want to see a progression during the game. You want to see you finish the game in every phase better than you started, and that's something to build upon as we progress through the season.
Q. How was your defense able to affect Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce?
MIKE MCDANIEL: I thought they had a very good plan. I was very, very proud — just we approached the game as a team, ready for the Super Bowl champions and understanding that we were going to have to be — that they were going to have some success. But the biggest thing is I didn't want to see people waver, and wow, did we get tested with that. I think the biggest thing is we didn't let the first drive, knowing that historically the Kansas City Chiefs, led by [head coach] Andy Reid, have always been very, very good at presenting new problems and new issues, specifically in the openers, and so when you — just handling that storm, to have seven points given up by the defense after that first drive, that's the huge thing that I'm really, really encouraged by our mental fortitude, because I know as the season progresses, these games get bigger and bigger, so you have to be able to sustain things or you have to be able to survive situations where you're going to get presented with new problems in game and adjust, and I thought we did a great job with that, and I thought we were very competitive in re-routes. I thought we played team defense as I would expect, and guys when they were at the point of attack with Travis, they were executing their fundamentals and technique. That will always be our calling card in all three phases, and it's something that I look forward to continuing to improve on in the bye week for the second half of the season.
Q. (Inaudible) what does that say about your quarterback?
MIKE MCDANIEL: It gives you a chance to do — to maximize what you have as a team and do something special with your season. I think everybody in the locker room knows it's not on his shoulders. They know that for a fact. But all that does with a leader and a captain and the starting quarterback of your team, when he's over-the-top accountable for everything that he does, how does it not snowball for the rest of the team. It sets the standard for how we look at, how each one of us looks at our jobs. I think you see a lot of teammates really fight for their starting quarterback, and that's exactly why, because he never is looking to point the finger at anyone else, and he puts a lot on his shoulders. I know that, so I have to do a better job keeping some of that stuff off of him because all he wants to do is perform for his teammates and be the guy that we all believe in. Like I said, all of his teammates could have told you he was going to come in and say that, and they all know that that is why we love him so much, and that's why he will continue to get better at everything he does, because he doesn't look for an out.
MIKE MCDANIEL: I don't really have any information on it. I was encouraged when I was out there on the field for something super severe, but we'll have to get some more information on that one.