Read the transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022.
(Let me ask you about the trade deadline. Do you occasionally talk to your players about the trade deadline? And if they see their name in rumors, do you talk to them or do you just kind of trust that…?) – "I address it if their name's out there, because for the most part – like I've said before, when I'm talking about trade stuff is, the reason why there's a head coach and a general manager is because that's how much stuff is going on. The head coach has to worry about the football. The general manager is talking to other teams incessantly about how to make the roster the very best from a business standpoint. It's misleading when people's names are out there because there's a lot of discussions about stuff. But when that does occur, generally it's not – for the most part, there's a lot of stuff that isn't real. So I'll be forthright with players in that regard, but outside of that, I think the players understand that it's a business as well, and that is viable unless they have a no-trade clause. So that's kind of how I proceed. I don't try to – when someone comes to me and says that stuff's out there, I address it then."
(Your run defense, you guys are I think eighth in the league and the next three weeks you're playing three of the top seven rushing teams. It's kind of a might against might type of thing, but what makes your rushing defense effective this year? I mean, DT Christian Wilkins, I think has been very effective. But what has made your rushing defense successful?) – "Well collectively, it's been our commitment to getting better. That there's pride in that. And from the onset, since I got – really when we started in the offseason program, I thought our defensive line was very, very good run defenders. They play with great technique and they really force offensive lines to be sound. And then as it's progressed, I've seen the rest of the unit start early in the season to kind of match their intensity and vigor. And then as the season has progressed, I think we've gotten better and better executing in that phase. I think that's a collection of players and coaches. It started with the defensive line, but the only way you can be good in this league at anything is if all 11 are committed to a purpose and I'm starting to see a lot of really good run play from the linebackers, safeties and … corners."
(When you try to – S Brandon Jones is not there anymore obviously – when you try to match system with talent, how closely can you, I guess, play the same style that you did with Brandon Jones as without him?) – "When you have really good players that you lose, you don't replace them by one player. You utilize other players on your roster and then you cater your scheme to what they do well, so the whole point and everyone on the defense knows is that we have to step up for his lost production. But that's not one person. That's the collection of Miami Dolphins defenders. Different players, different skill sets and you're trying to utilize those to the best of their ability to put them in position to succeed."
(I have a trivia question for you.) – "Wait, what?"
(It's more so – do you know who Mr. Universe was in 1981 and 1982? Because you were born in 1983.) – "That would be freaking unbelievable if I knew that. I mean, I can confidently and comfortably saying say I have no idea and do not feel guilty that I don't."
(That was John Brown. John Brown is the father of Amon-Ra and Equanimeous St. Brown.) – "Oh, okay, I did know that from – I guess I didn't attach it to the years, but I did know that from the dudes coming out. And they were obviously really good at working out as well as being good players. So I was aware of that one."
(You face them Week 8. Obviously they get him back – Amon-Ra St. Brown – but how do you all plan to I guess, focus in on the secondary, making sure that they step up to the occasion for this week?) – "It's the same process that you enter in every week. You try on Wednesday to – I view it as my job is to plant the seed and start with the entire team on showing the opponent and kind of what they are, defining what they are and where their strengths and weaknesses are, and what our plan is. And then Josh (Boyer) takes that immediately after. That's something that we're working together on to kind of figure out what calls are going in and all of that stuff. But that's something that every position has to really enter in each and every week, because in this league, people are always good at something. So this week, the Detroit Lions are very good at getting yards in the pass game and in the run game. They challenge you with committing to stuff that possibly isn't on tape, and you have to be sound but play to your style and not let things get you off balance. Or if they get an explosive here, don't overcorrect. Continue to play your responsibilities. And if we do it together, we have a shot. But it's the same way that we address every skilled unit that comes in or that you end up playing because whether it's offense, defense or special teams, typically in the NFL, they're always good at something. So you try to identify that and then identify how we're going to slow it down."
(I apologize for a long-winded wind-up to this question. I remember Andrew Hawkins talking about how you had cut ups of Allen Iverson to kind of illustrate to wide receivers maybe how to like get off the line and get off the line of scrimmage. I was talking to RB Raheem Mostert about his surfing background and how he kind of finds some similarities between that and kind of like working as a running back trying to find the hole and working with the offensive line. I was curious in your history of teaching players, teaching running backs; do you have any unique analogies and kind of illustrations, examples, for running backs when they're learning this wide zone scheme?) – "I think one of the most powerful communicative skills is through the use of analogies in general, so I heavily use analogies and I try to make them as random as possible because what you're trying to do is connect thoughts. And if there's a like thought that you might be able to describe to a player that can paint a picture in a certain way, that's as good as gold. So for running backs in general, you do use the basketball player crossover stuff and some route stuff. Talking about pad level and things of that nature, you can use sumo wrestling. They usually don't really do that, but just leverage in general. And really, I use analogies so often in organic speech that I can't even keep track of them because I learned that probably – I think I learned it, I probably have a teacher say that I learned it in high school, but I remember it in college – just that attachment to memory and how you can really be powerful in your message if you can draw analogies on to whatever you're discussing. I live in the analogous world."
(With RB Raheem Mostert, how have you seen him the past couple of weeks really take on that workload and respond from that? Obviously, he's a year from that injury now, and it seems like you guys are just putting more on his plate as the weeks go on.) – "He's hungry, and I forgot that you brought up the analogies to Raheem Mostert. We say, 'press every run one gap at a time,' and it's kind of like riding a wave – surfing. Because you're taking it right there and then all of a sudden you go downhill, but then the wave takes you back out. Analogies. (laughter) But he's handled it great because he's hungry. He's been a guy that – you want to talk about living in adversity and overcoming? It's one of the reasons he is who he is and where he's at today, and as he continues to be very productive for us on every touch he gets, guys feed off of it and you end up getting more touches. So he's handled it awesome. He's always been one of the best teammates that I've ever been around, coming from his whole background where he got cut 900 times. He's never one to do anything but embrace productivity from other people in his room. He's a great teammate in that regard. So guys definitely appreciate that and get really excited when he's able to make plays, which is what he does. He is capable of doing any and everything, really, when he's healthy. He's done a great job keeping himself healthy, and we will keep pressing forward hoping for that to continue."
(You cut your penalty numbers way down in that game against Pittsburgh and no turnovers. I remember you had spoken after the Minnesota game about you taking it in the eyes as the head coach to get the team to fix some of the mistakes. Was there a particular message – you talk about your teaching methods – that you think got across to them? And how do you keep that going, moving forward?) – "That's why football is so cool because it is a team accomplishment, through and through. So that's one of the reasons I don't look at – I look at my job as I'm supposed to set vision and motivate and I have all that stuff going on, but it doesn't matter if you have all the great stuff to say if players don't do it. So whether that's the messaging that was that good, (or) me – my knee jerk emphasized it and the players did something about it. To me, we have a great group of individual players that collectively respond to points of emphasis. So it was a point of emphasis, but it was just run of the mill English with some examples. Really, the people that deserve credit are the players that said, 'OK, I agree with you. I'm going to do something about it.' You watch how Jaylen Waddle, for instance, was running in space against the Steelers, that lesson from the game before didn't fall on deaf ears for him. We saw people really prioritize it. Even on the other side of the ball, the defense went after it, too. I think guys were – the players were sick of hurting ourselves with penalties, so we were fortunately able to have a cleaner game. But it's as simple as the players took it upon themselves to make sure it didn't happen on the field. And that's what good teams do, is they fix problems. They don't let them linger."
(You had 16 players listed as limited yesterday on the injury report. That's such a big number. I'm curious, at what point does that number become so big that it not only affects those players ability to prepare for Sunday's game, but the entire team's?) – "You hit it dead on the head, and that's why I like you. It's not just because you have alliteration in your name, which I am fond of, too. (laughter) But it affects everyone, not just the players that are hurt. So with a list like that, you have to address how you're practicing. That was the reason on Wednesday. We adjusted kind of our format of practice for the first time on a Wednesday to react to that so there wouldn't be trickle down to the players that were able to practice. Those are the things that are very common. They fluctuate. They're common in that there will be a fluctuation during a season of a ton of guys that have dings on them. So it's important that you have a team that is capable of adjusting their schedule to the needs of what the players need but can handle it appropriately, so that, 'Hey, if you tone down Period 2 or maybe tone down an entire day,' and it goes from full speed to maybe jog-through, that there is not a give in the attention to detail or the intensity. As a matter of fact, there's an uptick in how focused you are, knowing that this exercise is much more mental than physical. Those are the things that, talking to the team, that we have to be capable of doing for situations like this. I think they've handled this particular one very, very well. I'll always adjust things, and as the season goes, you take reps off. (If) there's too many guys down at a position then you adjust a period. But I don't – like you guys know, nothing is absolute for me, so always adjusting."
(Do you know anyone at this early stage that is either doubtful or out for Sunday?) – "Do I? I don't think I do."
(Is P Thomas Morstead back today, by the way?) – "He's going to be – this is classic, I feel like the team is morphing into the coach where nothing is absolute. So we have a bunch of guys that really want to play together – that is as genuine as I can explain it. And that do everything in their power to try to play which leaves a ton of questionables at the end of the week. So that's kind of the reason. It's because there's a lot of guys working through injuries that we're just made up – credit to the individual players, the locker room and (General Manager) Chris Grier, for having a collection of guys that want to play football with each other and not just collect the check. As far as we're concerned, Fridays, Saturdays, deciding the who's going to be up, it is kind of cumbersome because you're adjusting having backup plans all over the board. But at this point, we don't have any really anybody that is out out. There's some varying degrees of questionability. So we'll press forward there."