Read the transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022.
Head Coach Mike McDaniel
"I came here to find out who you guys got in the 2022 Embo Bowl on Sunday. The Embo Bowl."
(The Embo Bowl? We need an explanation.) – "It's the Miami Dolphins-Jets game."
(Embo Bowl?) – "Yeah, Embo Bowl. Our tight ends coach and assistant head coach, Jon Embree, right? (His) eldest son Taylor Embree – running backs coach for the Jets."
(A little-known nugget.) – "And I mean this has serious consequences for Thanksgivings. (laughter) Do you go with age or do you go with beauty? I'm going to go with both and do Jon Embree."
(So we saw WR Tyreek Hill pop up on the injury report yesterday with a quad. Is his status at all in question for Sunday, or do you expect him to play?) – "I can say with 100 percent conviction he will play or he won't play. (laughter) And that's all (Robert) Saleh is getting. (laughter) Yeah, he had something come up. We're treating it and we're very hopeful he'll play."
(And I would understand if you don't want to answer this, of course, but obviously with T Terron Armstead, he didn't practice all week so we never saw him on the field and he's been playing through the toe. So fans are curious, is it a similar situation with CB Xavien Howard, where you're merely resting the groin but he's going to try to play through it? Or is he seriously in question? Again, if you don't want to answer I understand, but I'm just asking.) – "Philosophically – generally, when players don't practice, you don't play him. Like I've told you guys from the beginning from the onset that absolutes are not my cup of tea. So with players like (Terron) Armstead and 'X' (Xavien Howard) – guys that have played at a high-caliber NFL level for a long time – there are exceptions. So if 'X' is able to go, kind of like in that Armstead fashion, if he's able to go on Sunday; I won't treat it like my general philosophy. And him not fully practicing today won't be a component to make that decision on Sunday. He's in that Armstead, Allen Iverson practice category. (laughter)"
(You've had some fun with Robert Salah and some of the connections you've had with the Jets this week. I'm curious, do you enjoy this week maybe more than others or how your personal feel is given your connections to the other side?) – "I try to do my best not to even factor that stuff in. It is unique because you know people so well. But again, it's the players on the field that decide the game. The hardest part is not overthinking it because you do know their philosophies to a adegree. And you know they know, so then you can go into that rabbit hole. But for me, I wouldn't say it's anything either way. Just because I've found in the past when I know people, sometimes it makes me worse because I think of it that way. It's just another opponent to me, and I think it's important for the for the players to feel that, too."
(If I could just follow up briefly, that same token, I think Robert Saleh was asked by Jets reporters about you and your style and he said even though they passed a lot he's a run-first guy at heart which I think we know, but what would you describe Salah as? His coaching style if you could boil it down?) – "Okay, his coaching style starts – the leadership portion of it starts top-down. So his coaching and his philosophy is to be extremely accountable to what the players are being told and to what they're being asked to do. I would say he is an extremely sound coach that wants his team to play fast with high effort. That's non-negotiable for him. And that's why it is cool for me to watch the tape this year. I was able to watch a little bit last year, you know, as a friend kind of look for it and whatever, and I saw it there. They're a little healthier this year. They've improved some talent and you're seeing better results because it's a non-negotiable, sound, effort team that will always – you'll always see 11 players around the ball. And so that philosophically, he's a sound, rules-oriented coach that demands and receives fast play from his players."
(What do you remember maybe liking about Zach Wilson in the scouting process a couple years ago?) – "The very, very elite throwing talent. First and foremost. You can see it a little bit. It looks different where it just pops off his hand. And I think when I was evaluating him – I said something before earlier in the week, but I said something about off-platform throws, meaning that he can be in any position and distribute the ball anywhere on the field. It's like, there's not that many guys that can do it. Like him, I think of the – you have Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes that are the bigger guys that can really string it across the field. But as throwers, the only guys that I really see that throw like him are probably Aaron (Rodgers) and Kyler (Murray). Similar that way. So you're always intrigued when you're looking at a quarterback and you see unbelievable throwing talent. And he's special in that way and can make a defense pay any part of the field at any given time."
(We've done a lot of four-game assessments of different aspects of the team, how would you assess yourself after four games?) – "Well, if you guys have any recall, and I've done this before. But I would refuse to ever give myself a high grade because my assessment of myself is to always assess my job and to continually evolve and get better. So will I ever be like, pumped about the job that I'm doing? No, that's not the nature of the job. The nature of the job, the way I see it and what I'm trying to do for myself is assess decisions across the board, which is all-encompassing, and then never stop that process of development and getting better at stuff. So if you're asking me, it's probably going to be the same at 3-1 as if it was 0-4 or 4-0. So bad person to ask."
(What about the way you've handled things such as halftime at the Baltimore game? Is it the same answer? Do you give yourself credit for that? Because I mean, players could have tensed up or whatever, and you seemed to have handled that very well.) – "For me personally, I'm not one to give myself much credit at all, because I've said it before about a multitude of different topics, but people – for me to take this job, I better be adept at doing stuff. This is not – this job is to service hundreds of people and I better, when they're needing me, be able to make the appropriate decisions and handle things the right way. So anything that you'd be saying, that's kind of what I expected for myself – that's why you prepare so long. Over a decade is a long time when this particular job is on your mind, and at some point when it's not happening, you have to make sure that, 'Okay, well if it does happen, I better be ready and happy with where I'm at in coaching, so that I can do right by the players in the organization that are counting on me.' So I'll never – I knew early that when I was starting the head coaching process here in the offseason, I could feel it early that I was prepared for it and I was happy with that. I could feel as the next hurdles came, where I was calling plays for the first time, I could feel that I was ready to do that. But what I'll never really be assessing – it'll always be bad on all fronts because I'm looking for ways to improve. I think Mike Shanahan used to say to Kyle (Shanahan) when he was a little kid; Kyle would say it all the time in San Fran as a phrase that spoke to him that I've kind of adapted is, 'If you're not getting better, you're getting worse.' One of two things are always happening."
(Is there anything you can tell us in terms of an update on how QB Tua Tagovailoa is doing?) – "He's been diligently going through the process. Right now, he's still in the protocol, obviously. There's several outside specialists that we're also utilizing, and we'll just take it from there. But happy that he's – I get to see him every day. It's nice when I walk down the hallway, and I hear, 'What up, Beast,' which is, for whatever reason, he calls me 'Beast' all the time. I don't think I give off the 'Beast' vibe, (laughter) but – we'll just take it day by day from there."
(Is he traveling?) – "He will not be traveling to this game for recovery purposes."
(Have you and General Manager Chris Grier made a firm decision that he won't be going on IR today or tomorrow?) – "Yeah, he won't be going on IR today or tomorrow. We're still getting information and progressing through that."
(Anything you can tell us about the guys who have practiced little or none at all this week – CB Keion Crossen and WR Jaylen Waddle?) – "We'll be checking out (Keion) Crossen today and seeing how he goes, but we're just being careful not to push the envelope. And as (Jets Defensive Coordinator Jeff Ulbrich) Coach Ulbrich and (Jets Head Coach Robert) Saleh will pumped to hear, I'm just hoping for the best with Jaylen Waddle."
(I'm curious, and hopefully doesn't get too much into a gameplan, with a left hander like QB Tua Tagovailoa going to a right hander like QB Teddy Bridgewater, do you have to flip play calls at all as a play caller for certain plays?) – "You try to – if you do have tendencies to do things one direction because of that, defense generally picks up on it. So we run with Tua (Tagovailoa) all the time run bootlegs to the right. We kind of even everything out, so we don't tend to have too many one-way orchestrations. So no, it doesn't really change anything. The hardest part was actually learning left-handed quarterback footwork to coach. It's just reversed, but just once we got that done for the coaches, it didn't affect the players at all. It didn't affect Tua (Tagovailoa), he had been thrown with his left (hand) for his whole life. So that doesn't, it doesn't really change anything at all, to be honest."
(How has OL Brandon Shell been progressing?) – "Good, he had a good week of practice. I've been very impressed with his commitment to own the scheme. It's always challenging when you jump into a moving operation that's already full tilt, but he's shown his professionalism. He improves on stuff every day, which is what my base bottom line is for all players. That's all I'm really concerned with is them continuing to improve, and he's done that. I'm very happy we have him here."
(Your secondary has some problems, you talked about Jets QB Zach Wilson. Are you expecting heavy-pass from the Jets?) – "The way I know the Jets and (offensive coordinator) Coach (Mike) LaFleur is I'm expecting heavy whatever's working. It's not – honestly, they have the ability to live in the run game. They've ran for, in the last calendar year, I think they've had over 150 yards rushing. I know they had a great stretch. The last six games or so, they might have been like third in the league in rushing last season. If it's impossible to run, he'll definitely pass it. I know he looks at the world from the quarterback's perspective as he should, so he'll always try to call a balanced game so that you can't play for pass and put the quarterback in harm's way. But I also know that if he's running the ball and it's not working, he's just not going to run it to run it, but he'll try to get an evenly-called game as best he can. As I know from experience last year when he would text me with exclamation points and telling me, 'I got 35 runs in!'"