Read the transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Thursday, September 1, 2022.
(Something that tends to amuse fans happen today. So the Patriots have a history of signing Dolphins who have just been released before the teams play. It's happening again with WR Lynn Bowden Jr. Does it put you at all at risk? Do you need to change any offensive play calls or signals in advance of the opener as a result?) – "I'm happy for Lynn. You know, it was one of the things that I was hoping for during camp, is you invest in each and every player, and then you have to let guys go, and that their sacrifice and effort is not lost on me. So I'm happy they go to other teams. I feel like that was a concern early in my career, considering that you can go online and buy almost every playbook that I've ever worked on. Yeah, I mean, unless he's – no doesn't concern me at all. I would assume that they were doing that because they had exposure to him, and not to get cryptic answers because if he has those answers, then I'm not that cryptic. (laughter)"
(Obviously the list of captains came out today. And one name that obviously is going to catch a lot of attention is QB Tua Tagovailoa. How important is it for your starting quarterback to be a captain? And does it sort of stamp that leadership role on a player when he is?) – "Well, absolutely. I firmly believe that – so captains represent the players, right? That's the whole position so the way we approach it here is that the players vote for who they want to represent them as captain, and seeing how it was a it was a point system, and the resounding highest point winner was Tua; I think it says everything. I think that's incredibly important. When it's done with the right reasons with the right intent, and that was the only the only thing that I gave the players was like, 'Who do you want, representing you, each and every game? Who do you want to wear the 'C', and understand what that 'C 'means on your jersey?' And I think it speaks volumes on where he's at with the team and their belief in him. Like all the captains that were voted, it's a tremendous honor, especially in a situation where it's 100 percent player-controlled, so all those captain award winners were bestowed that anointment by their peers, and I think that's the greatest honor you can have in a team sport, especially the biggest team sport, which is professional football."
(Noticed that there were six guys on that list who hadn't been captains previously here. Curious the importance of maybe resetting the leaders here or resetting…?) – "Yeah, again – that's news. There's one or two guys I knew that weren't. But again, it wasn't even – I very much value – I've talked about at length; I very much value this whole dichotomy of how the organization works. And as a head coach, I'm here to serve the entire organization and to serve the players and coaches. The coaches are here to serve the players and it's the players' team. You empower them with that, understanding the magnitude and consequences of having responsibility. And then what you're seeing is who the players believe are the leaders of the team. And I know one thing in an NFL organization, the most accountability occurs within the locker room, because there's nowhere to hide. And there's a lot of times that – I'm very aware that you know, I don't necessarily get the exact face of each and every person, you know, I'm the boss. You treat bosses like you treat bosses, but there's nowhere to hide in that locker room. So that what you're seeing I'm not sure if it's necessarily anything but a reflection of who the players deem the people they rely on the most on a day-in, day-out, week-in, week-out basis that reflects how they approach their job. And you're really, really happy when you get a list of those vote tallies and they happen to be some of the players you're relying on the most from a contribution standpoint. So that's how I see it. I don't really know how exactly it went down before. I just know what you guys are reading, what that means on game day. You're seeing the representatives chosen by the players as to who are their leaders, and to me, there's nothing more important than that."
(What's it say about S Jevon Holland to be voted as a captain at 22 years old in his second season?) – "I know it says that's the makings of a special individual. The football world is in front of him. That is great news for the Miami Dolphins when there's an alignment between talent, and respect. You can't just get that by talent alone and it's not a popularity contest. What you're seeing is a guy that has gotten – he's not a rookie anymore – and he's approaching the game to be great. His expectations are to be great. He holds himself to a high standard, and shoot, you do that every day; your teammates are like – it blows my mind that he's a second-year 22-year-old. It really does while also making me feel very old. Because that would put his birth in the 2000s. Like, what? I was graduating high school around then, but I think that it's really cool to see. It didn't surprise me at all, which is even something that is even better news because day-in, day-out, he – like I told the whole team today – what's so cool about captains is they have to bring it every day. They don't have a choice because if you choose to just go through the motions that day, you're saying, 'You know what, I want to I want to be on average, to mediocre to non-winning football team.' And none of those guys are approaching their day-in day-out process with any of those expectations of mediocrity. They're trying to be great and that trickles down to everyone else a lot better than a really cool speech from a coach."
(I noticed that the way the locker room is arranged, the player groups aren't separated by position. What do you like about that?) – "Man, I'm glad you brought that up. I've been waiting for you guys to have open locker room since it was like the first week that I was here. So there was and some of it has to do with productivity and stuff and historically the defense had kind of carried this team, but I had heard from – I get here that first week, and I'm interviewing coaches and players are coming through to introduce themselves. And I kept hearing this commonality with, okay, there was offense versus defense. And this just in, the win loss column is one team. So like that and then furthermore, I'm sitting here thinking about okay, well, if I want players to become as close as possible, to be as invested in each other as possible, why would I have guys that go to position meetings and sit right next to each other, then go to drill work – these are the guys they see all the time – so to facilitate, it was kind of the first action that I could take to facilitate a better team camaraderie, was you know what, let's strategically put players within the locker room so that they're – because you spend a lot of time there. Like you accumulate those hours over the course of a season and you should be sitting next to somebody that you're not spending time with all day. And who knows what relationship virtues that facilitates. So that was that was one of the first decisions – right when I got the tour, I made a note. I didn't tell Chris (Grier) because I hadn't got the job yet, so like I wanted to hold that gold nugget. But then the second I got the job was like, all right, talked to Joe (Cimino) and we moved it around and I think it's paid dividends."
(At this moment, what's your confidence level that WR Jaylen Waddle will be available for Week 1?) – "Very, very, very confident. I'm not sure what my scale is, but he's taken, again, the whole time, been trying to be extremely proactive if we would have had a game – what is today, Thursday? If we had a game last Sunday, he would have played. If we would have had a game the Sunday before he probably would have played. He's getting some reps in practice today. And again, that was a combination of just being proactive and cautious, as well as something that was an easy decision for me because, like I said before, he was one of the most impressive players on the entire team, regardless of position from coming back from the break and from the beginning of training camp. So I have felt very good about where his game was at and that the best thing that could serve him was rest. Extremely proactive, getting reps today, and very confident for not this Sunday, but the following."
(With DB Keion Crossen, CB Kader Kohou and CB Noah Igbinoghene, is that going to be like an open competition during practice next week? Or can you share with us that one of those guys kind of gets first crack at that open position?) – "I think it's important to – when competition is so close and fierce and you have quality young players, it's twofold. I don't think it benefits anybody to just bestow or crown because you have to earn that and that's through games. They haven't even been able to play a full game yet, as well as, it gives us versatility for matchups to – I talked to those guys and this is the case for a lot of the team – when you have a good amount of quality players and I think those guys are quality. I know the names don't get you guys juiced up, but when you watch their play they get quality play out on the field. That gives you a little versatility to adjust to an opponent. So maybe you see something in particular that a player struggles with that this person excels at. So maybe this player plays a little bit more this game and then that rep count adjusts not because of poor quality of play, but because of that matchup, much like basketball in playoffs, certain people all of a sudden play more. And then there's certain games that they don't. That's a commonality and I think that's what we're kind of afforded with having a nice little lump of quality young talent."
(I wanted to ask you about your depth defensively on the edge especially after adding LB Trey Flowers, just how many things you can do with so many talented and veteran guys at the position?) – "The bottom line is, I don't know why this hasn't come up, but it's by far in football, my favorite position is d-line and edge. Like I think they can be the most impactful players on the field outside of the quarterback because they dictate the terms the quarterback is able to play on and they establish the line of scrimmage. So I'm of the belief that you can't have too many of those guys. I think the more quality guys you have, the fresher they can play, the more issues they give you offensively because now you're preparing for six different pass rush moves instead of two that a particular player has, those type of things, and then they can play fresher during the game and it's just such an incredibly important position that I'm all for that. If I could go and use – I mean, you'd have to talk me out of not trying to pitch to Chris (Grier) to draft a defensive lineman or edge every year because it's that valuable. And those guys you know, they really are so impactful in both phases. You're talking about the run game and the pass game that there's not a down that they can't really impact the game and that's what makes that position unique and special to me."