Read the full transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on October 6, 2023.
(What were the specific skills that you and General Manager Chris Grier liked about WR Chase Claypool that made you want to pursue that? And did the WR Erik Ezukanma and WR River Cracraft injuries contribute towards the choice?) – "I think that's an exciting opportunity. It's kind of like Christmas in terms of, I don't know anything. When Chris comes to me about something that he has on the docket, we have good discussions. For us, it felt like a situation where there might be a role to carve out for him. Then I think important for the player, you have a guy that wants to take things into his own hands and have an opportunity to be on a team. To me, beyond that, it was an opportunity to take advantage of. We definitely weren't looking for receiver help. It wasn't in that nature at all. Very, very happy with our receiving corps. But I think one thing that Chris and I have always agreed upon in how we operate and do business is you have to stay steadfast to the commitment of making your team as good as it can be. Sometimes things come across your radar that you weren't even looking for. But when you assess it, if it falls under the category of this has a chance to make us better, then you jump on that. That's been the case. There's been several instances now that are starting to accumulate where things – when the opportunity presents itself, you jump on it. Really happy about practice today. I don't think he'll be there. But beyond that, it's just business as usual, trying to get better one press conference at a time."
(His skillset besides size, what else about WR Chase Claypool stood out to you and General Manager Chris Grier?) – "You guys want me to say it, don't you? Yeah, he's fast. (laughter) That's cool. But really, you're very open-minded to the unique attributes of a guy that comes into the league and generally, you don't see that often, receivers gain a reputation through special teams and then develop as a receiver. There's a multitude of ways that he's contributed. I think this team, we have a lot of players that are moving in the right and same direction. There's guys that, really, across the board, I wouldn't say one player is satisfied with their role. Everybody wants more of the pie in one way, shape or form, whatever that looks like for them. But we have a team that really respects each other and really has love for each other. So you're competing with people not against them. I think that's a good situation for any player to come in to. Like every player that comes here, they get the opportunity to earn their place within the locker room. That will be very important for him and kind of dictate the terms on what that looks like. But not really getting over the top envisioning this, that or the other. More that we have an opportunity to upgrade our team. A talented guy that's not easily accessible all the time. Now it'll be up to him to see what that looks like. One thing I do know is he'll get the support from his teammates. The locker room here is pretty, pretty cool. Really our locker room loves people that help us win."
(There's been rumblings other places about WR Chase Claypool and maybe his work ethic question marks. I'm curious how much you and General Manager Chris Grier talked about that before deciding to bring him in and how you manage that?) – "There's a balance with that. Everybody hears things. I think it's very, very important that you let people tell you who they are. I see better than I hear. There's so many things that can go on, certain circumstances. From my vantage point, I looked at it like this, I'm not going to make myself wrong with something that I don't know by judging X, Y or Z. We give you the opportunity to define who you are in the most honest, organic, real way possible. That's an open mind, clean slate, let's go. To me, then we as an organization, myself as coach, you don't have to play the end all be all predictor. You let people – that's the way it should be. They should be able to decide who they are and whatever that is. You hear stuff left and right. I've been in the league long enough to know that circumstances can be all sorts of different things. I don't downplay what he's gone through. He went through it. You give an opportunity and you allow someone to follow their dream, put the control in their own hands and show teammates each and every day what you're really about. That is an opportunity that we're happy to afford him. It's less about 'oh, I know this is not true.' That's literally irrelevant. He'll start as a Dolphin and be able to earn whatever place he wants within the locker room based upon his actions on a daily basis. I think our standard of commitment and work ethic, it'll be very clear what that is. You have to really deep dive into the whole program to keep up and I think he's a competitor that sounds like he's up for the challenge. It's fun. Chris gets to come into my office and tell me cool prospects and blow my mind while we're game planning. Then we talked through it. I'm excited. It's always a nice litmus test for your locker room when guys come in. You can see where they're at and I know I'm very confident that our guys will embrace him and will move forward with a new teammate."
(You're also placing T Terron Armstead on IR, is that correct?) – "Yeah, and he will return. This is something that it's a scenario where Terron, he really doesn't waste a week without just totally captaining our team. He's fighting the urges to just be like, 'No, I want to go do this.' He understands the long game with it. He understands what not being available for a certain amount of time (means). He's embracing something that he's not excited about, but he's excited to do right by the team and he's excited to get himself back healthy. I can't talk about it enough. He's such a big part of what we're trying to develop within the locker room and I think guys really see his commitment to the team, especially when he's battling through stuff like that."
(We know with T Terron Armstead, you guys had expected weeks already. Is it the four weeks minimum obviously for IR, is that a situation where he would be close at that four-week mark given what you know?) – "That was very well phrased because you know that I'm not about the business of timelines, because it undercuts what we're trying to do. We're trying to not get healthy by a certain thing and compromise that process. We're trying to get healthy. But I don't think you're far off. I guess that's what I mean. It was a decision that shows the investment that Terron has in this team by that being something that it's a no-brainer for him. But it will be pretty, pretty close. And I think that's probably – if it's pretty close at this point in time, I'm not going to be putting him at risk anyway. And I'm not going to defend against myself. I really like watching him play."
(I get what you're saying about the clean slate. I can appreciate that. At the same time, for example, this morning I saw some clips of WR Chase Claypool, and it seemed to show him not giving full effort out on the field at all times. Have you and General Manager Chris Grier talked to him about things like that as far as what's expected of him in terms of commitment to this team?) – "Yeah, it's very clear. And honestly, he's very understanding of his opportunity, and what the stakes are for him. And really, I'm pretty sure he's aware of the narratives out there. And you can do one of two things with those things. You can say, 'Woe is me that that's there, it is what it is.' And then if you're not that, don't be that. Expectations are crystal clear and that's not even something that I would say Chris and I generally have to overly worry about, because the locker room kind of indirectly handles that. Okay, so you have 11 guys on the field. If 10 of them are straining, you know what players hate is watching film of the one guy that's not. And so the collective standard that no one's above that. And for that reason, I'm not really worried. I think that will play itself out."
(What are LB Jaelan Phillips and OL Connor Williams' prospects for playing on Sunday?) – "Yeah, I feel like every time I bump into either one of those two, they're like eyeballing me like, 'Don't you dare.' But I will dare if I have to. They're both doing well. I think particularly with the vibe that Connor Williams keeps giving off to me, I might need a bodyguard. But I'll do whatever it takes for the team. We're seeing what he can do today and we're seeing what Jaelan can do today without keeping them from setbacks. It's so much easier to assess after that, that's kind of complete. So that'll be a big day for those guys. I can tell you one thing, they are trying hard."