Read the transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022.
(Any updates on CB Kader Kohou or DB Keion Crossen? Are you optimistic about them practicing and playing this week?) – "I'm optimistic with those human beings, just knowing that we just have a good collection of players on this team that I can trust how bad they want to play. It killed them not to play in this last one, so I feel good about it in that if it's feasible, they'll make the outing. They've done a good job progressing. We'll see."
(I was curious with the trade deadline coming up next week. Can you kind of take us in a little bit into the dynamic between you and General Manager Chris Grier in terms of communicating potential moves or are you suggesting stuff to him? Is he kind of briefing you daily? How has that back and forth been going?) – "Absolutely not. (laughter) No, just a little insight. So I just kick the door in and say, 'we need X, Y or Z.' (laughter) No, it's one of the best things about working in this role, in this organization, is my relationship with Chris (Grier). We're both always just trying to do the best thing for the team. That is the flat line. We take that responsibility seriously, so he's always looking into everything because it's one of those type jobs where you spend time on the things that actually get done, probably one percent of what you're actually working on, so he's going through all that stuff constantly and then keeping me abreast when things are real enough or when he knows that it could potentially get real so we need to start talking about a decision. So those things are typically – every day of the week he's talking about just something that's going on or something that he's heard from other teams or whatever unless it's Tuesday. He always makes sure that he nor anybody else is bothering me on Tuesday. I haven't heard from him yet today, but yesterday was Tuesday, so."
(Not going with S Eric Rowe for S Brandon Jones on Sunday, was it about game day packages? With a week of prep, do you anticipate using those same packages that we saw against Pittsburgh or possibly moving Rowe into that spot?) – "Well, let me just tell you what we're doing defensively this week. (laughter) No, it's one of my favorite parts of the system, which I think it's to the credit of all the defensive coaches starting with Josh (Boyer), with how they take people's strengths and utilize them in a multitude of ways. From an offensive perspective, it makes it very difficult because you'll see people move around and those packages are ever-changing week by week. Again, I'll double down on it as a matter of fact. Eric (Rowe) had two of his best days of practice specifically at the end of last week and he's doing some real good stuff. But it has to do with all the tools that you have in your toolbox and what you're playing and why you're playing it and what role they have to fit within that given set of circumstances. So I know he'll be involved and that's – if you want to just get the whole defensive game plan, we can just head down the hallway after this and knock that out. (laughter)"
(I know you want to look into and I know you were thinking about why the yards per play on offense are quite high and yards per game on offense are quite high, but points per game are not quite as high as those other categories. What are some things that you've come to realize and things that you think can change that moving forward?) – "I think – right before our very eyes – I feel it every game. You guys feel it and you don't even know it that we're doing a good job taking advantage of some explosive opportunities, which every team, every offense tries to do and that's usually the hardest thing to get accomplished. But I think that's the name of the game for good teams in this league; it's the simplest formula, but it happens every single year and it seems like people miss it, which there's so many distractions that occur. Just think about it from an individual standpoint. 'Am I playing enough? How did I play this last game? Do I got extra family in town?' All this stuff. The teams that are good get better during the season and it's hard to because there's so many other things that can take your mind and you're tired. Six days a week for players, seven days a week. So all those things – when we're better at our fundamentals within – and I'm talking about every position involved in the run game – when we're collectively better at that, when we're better at executing our fundamentals, I think you'll start to feel – because there's sometimes that we'll go down and we won't punt for three or four series consecutively and then you start punting for three possessions in a row. It's because the fundamentals are a little off so when our game gets better – because I think most of those yards are a factor of our ability to get those chunk plays. We need to sustain drives more, be better in the red zone, better at all of it, which just comes down to being better. And you're not given that. You earn it."
(Just an update on S Brandon Jones placed on IR yesterday. Is this something do you expect to keep him out for the rest of the season?) – "Yeah, it was his ACL and yeah, I'm not planning for him to return this season, which you really – in situations like this – I feel terrible. (I feel) absolutely terrible for a guy that was playing at a very, very high level. The good news about him in particular is when things like this happen to people like him, they tend to come out finding a way to be better somehow someway. Today, this morning, watching it with the team, watching some of our game and putting it to bed, you could hear like the hurt with the team when his highlights would come on because there were a ton of them. I do know that people like him end up finding a way to be even better than they were before, but it's a shame because I don't think he'll – it's hard to give the credit to what he was doing or that it deserves, to what he was doing on the field, for our group. The whole team definitely felt that."
(I wanted to ask you about WR Cedrick Wilson Jr. He's been on the field for I think about a fifth of your offensive snaps. Is it just a matter of you guys have a ton of weapons? Is there something he could be doing better?) – "No, he's progressing in the offense. There was also a portion of the season that he got a little dinged up with his ribs that he was playing through and we were kind of limited in his usage there. But given circumstances with – it's less about what he hasn't done. He's getting better and better every week, and he'll continue to become more and more featured within our offense. But it's not about what he hasn't done and more about what a guy like Trent Sherfield has done. Those are things that you don't go into a season – that's why I don't magnetize and stare at depth charts, because that's a very fluid thing. When you're asking players to sacrifice all that they sacrifice and when they're putting themselves on the line, they have to know that it's not only appreciated, but the bottom line will be whatever is on the tape that given week will get more opportunities to be on tape because those guys are going to get the most opportunities. So he'll continue to progress his role. I'm comfortable with where he's at in working on his game and should expect to see more from him. I'm expecting that and I think he's expecting that as the season progresses."
(It's been pretty eye opening to see the numbers WR Tyreek Hill and WR Jaylen Waddle have put up. I know you had a high expectation for them coming in, but has anything they've done as a duo surprised you or stood out at this point in the season?) – "I think their acceptance of the burden that is high expectations. A lot of people feel as though it's a gift, or it's so cool. What if you wanted to be a star player? Well, star players have to really put the most on their shoulders with their given preparation each week. They can't afford to have to just take a game off. And then when pressure situations happen, they have to perform. I think their commitment and yearning for wanting to be in conversations for duos and stuff and all of those things, that has been the most surprising on the field. And with that, they've also been extremely coachable. I don't think we've seen nearly the best from them in terms of, I don't know about numbers, but you talk about them being able to make plays that other people can't and I don't think we've totally seen all that even yet. I think they would agree with that and that's been surprising, because you just don't know until you know. They are great athletes, but more than that, they're committed teammates and they have a lot of commitment from a ton of people in that locker room that are doing all of the right things so that they can have that production. So it's cool for the whole team."
(You mentioned coachable for those guys. WR Tyreek Hill kind of raved about the scheme, helping them, and him in particular, have a lot of success. I'm curious what it's been like for you as a play-caller?) – "He just does that just so you can get more targets – smart business play. (laughter) I think it's adapting to really the circumstances. You're trying to solve a puzzle, and that's ever evolving. And that's different defensive presentations and what the guys are good at. But also, I think it's always funny when players talk about scheme. They are part of the scheme. The only reason the scheme is existing is because they're executing it, and somebody has to learn it. And we – if you guys haven't noticed, we motion a ton. We have a ton of different formations that can give defenses – the intent is, they'd have to speak on if they actually do, but the intent is to give trouble to the defense. Well, that can be trouble for an offense if you let it. I think they're coming into their own, really, as professionals too, understanding how you have to approach that, how they have to commit for the scheme to look anything like it like it does and then just how to go about their business and the impact they have on their other teammates and how they prepare. But they are as part of the scheme as anybody."
(What's your message to the team this week just about the Lions, make sure this isn't overlooked? Obviously, it's a team that's struggled so far this season.) – "It goes to one of the lessons that is almost weekly that is really close to all of my fundamental pillars of belief of the game of football is, whatever people want to say, we're defined by our tape and the stuff that we do on Sundays. That is the record that will leave how we do things and what we do on tape. So when I look at the Detroit Lions tape, all I see is a team that makes a lot of plays on offense that fortunately for the opponents, they have made some mistakes along the way. But they are one game away from being as good on offense production-wise as anybody in the league. And then defensively, I was actually surprised. I try not to look at any statistical stuff until I've at least taken a couple of games, and I was surprised at the numbers, because the tape is a competitive, fully committed unit that you see strain and activity and disruption the entire game. So it's pretty easy for me with the team, because they've gotten used to me by now where I'm just going to bombard them with tape and let that set the story for what we're playing. Maybe a lot of people don't really realize it, but you cut the tape on, you see some things that are as good as anybody that we've played in certain areas, and that they're hoping – they're begging for us to take them lightly. A team like that with tape will take like that, I don't think anybody has any plans to take this team lightly whatsoever."
(DE Emmanuel Ogbah, how's he doing?) – "He's doing better. He really – we knew the game before that he was going to have to have a big game from how we were going to operate as a defense. He rose to the challenge and got nicked in the process but hoping that we're going to get him back on the field here soon. (I'm) optimistic about Sunday, just because I know where his game was at. He was in a really good place, and he wants to get back there as soon as possible. So I know he'll do whatever it takes."