Read the full transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Monday, Sept. 12, 2022.
(Was the news you got today if you had any on OL Austin Jackson – is it a sprained ankle that makes them day-to-day? Or is it something more serious that could land him on IR?) – "It's something that is – he was tough. He stayed in uniform and could have gone back in if in an emergency situation, but it's serious enough that we're getting some more eyes on it. And so we'll be continuing along the process to have the best medical information on him moving forward. So to be determined."
(And TE Cethan Carter?) – "He's in the concussion protocol, and so you guys know how that goes where that is, of all things, the most case-by-case basis. So we'll be taking it as such moving forward."
(The running game – something you take pride in, of course – what did you notice? What do you take away that can be improved going forward?) – "There was a lot. I didn't give – there wasn't a ton of opportunities for some bigger plays in the run game, but there were some. I think that New England does a great job of – like I knew going into the game – of presenting different looks and having a plan specific for your unit. So that kept us off balance to a degree. But something that I'm very glad they got that rep on collectively, coaches and players included, because that's something that will not change as I've experienced moving forward. I think there were some good plays, but it's something that we'll look to improve upon, like really every other phase of our game moving forward."
(You see the world is a better place when the Miami Dolphins win on Sunday. How do you look to improve on heading into next week's matchup against Baltimore?) – "Well, I think there's some areas of the country that would disagree with that statement, but you know what, who cares about them? So I agree with you. (laughter) It's something that was a focus of what I spoke to the team about today and it's one of the unique things about football that I think that not everyone totally digests. It is awesome, and the world is a better place, but if your goals are more than to just win a few games here or there, you take that feeling that you have on Sunday and you put it to bed because the best teams are the ones that continually progress throughout the whole season. And theoretically, not outcome-oriented, but theoretically if we're on the journey that we want to be, that should be the worst game that we play all year; that you should always be getting better and that's not always measured with wins and losses, but the best teams – if you want to be a good team in this league – you have to be playing your best football in the end of November and in December months. So that's what we're gearing towards and there was definitely no celebrations or parties today. I could tell that the team knew there were some plays to be made on the field that we didn't make. Yes, even in the locker room. But today it was definitely throughout the whole building that guys were focused on getting better and improving before this Baltimore game because I promise you Baltimore does not care or Baltimore could care less about our happy feelings on Sunday."
(Following up a little bit of the question on the run game, when you look at the offensive line performance as a whole, taking into account that OL Austin Jackson was out for a while there, what did you see from the line?) – "I saw a line that is young in the season in terms of I saw some really good stuff. There was some really good plays made by the line. The one thing about offensive line play is you can't take advantage of really good things by some players unless everyone is in concert. So really what happened to me in the game was that when players were making plays on the offensive line in the run game specifically, there were a couple players that were a hair off. And when you're going against a team that plays physical like New England that was definitely emphasizing stopping the run, your results aren't what you want. And I saw the same thing in the pass game. There are some really cool protection clips from and plays made by really everyone across the board, but then there was some miscues that were either just rule-oriented, or we had a halfback miss a protection here or there. So ultimately, I was pleased with it and I wasn't that surprised, just knowing the level of detail the Patriots bring forth. They play heavy up front and if you're off a little bit at one spot, it doesn't look the greatest. So I was pleased with where we're at, but that's assuming and operating under the assumption that we're going to continue to get better. So it wasn't far from where I pictured and no confidence has been lost on my end."
(TE Mike Gesicki's usage, or lack thereof, was that a byproduct merely of matchups? Do you envision getting him more…?) – "No, I would have expected at the end of the game, by our game plan for him to have more pass game production, I guess. I think that was the case with – I would have expected to get the ball more to Jaylen Waddle, who I think had four receptions. I would have expected Raheem Mostert to have more opportunities with the ball. And that's one of the things that happens in the course of the game and when you're on a better – the better offenses that you're on, the more that that can – you don't have to force your hand to certain players all the time and defensive presentations and the distribution of the ball gets spread. I can remember games where I think the most productive offense that I've ever been on was probably the 2016 Atlanta Falcons. I think the fourth game of the season, Julio Jones had 300 yards receiving and I know during that season, he also had games where he had two receptions so that doesn't really necessarily reflect the exact game plan at all. I would have expected him to have more, but that's just how the ball bounces sometimes in an NFL football game."
(Your secondary – what did you think of its production overall and CB Noah Igbinoghene being inactive, what was the reasoning behind it?) – "I was pretty happy with the secondary. It's kind of what I expected. And like I told you, these are hard game day decisions. Noah (Igbinoghene) knows I wasn't punishing him. It happened to be about our specific game plan and the specific matchups that we had this week and those are things that on a team, especially when you have – I think you guys have been grinding me on our secondary depth and I tried to explain to you guys why. Well I think you saw a little bit more from some of the players and why I feel that way. So we have some good players there that we will always try to do the best thing for the Miami Dolphins and the given matchups and the given defensive game plan so that was just part of it."
(Do you think LB Andrew Van Ginkel would have played more if he wasn't still working his way back from the appendix or was that snap count – seven I think defensively – a game plan decision?) – "No, that was him working his way back. He's had a tremendous offseason and it's to his credit that he was playing in that game. So that's a guy that his teammates root for him because of what he brings to the field and I would expect him to get more stuff moving forward."
(Having had a chance to digest the film now, what can you say about the defensive game plan going into the game and also the way they adjusted from your defensive staff?) – "I was very happy with it. I was happy with where they are focusing and their overall game plan was pretty good. I thought there were some things that we were trying to get done in the second half that there's ultimate accountability that we try to preach and to their credit, the players are saying, 'hey, we could have got that done.' And the coaches are saying, 'well, we probably didn't articulate it right.' That's where, for a game where they give up seven points and score seven points, you're very happy with the mindset of the whole unit. And so after digesting the film and talking to all the guys, I'm very happy with where they're at and they're expecting to continually get better, which is what we all expect."
(What did you think of QB Tua Tagovailoa after watching the game film?) – "I was happy with Tua (Tagovailoa) because he did a lot of things well, and then he got the taste of, there was some things that he wasn't that fired up about. But this is a team thing and there's a lot of things that me personally, that I told him. 'To do your position right in the National Football League, you can't be afraid to find things that you can do better at. And there were several times that I think Tua was covering for me, because I was getting the play in later than I would like. Those things I have no patience for for myself, and so I let the team know I think after the game and then as well as today, and you move forward with that. There are some things that I think he's done in practice that he didn't do exactly the same in the game, but over the course of the entire – I mean he touched the ball every play – that's to be expected. What I really liked was that he made plays in each quarter because to me, that's good quarterback play. Because the hardest thing is between your ears to deal with this position in the National Football League. You have all this stuff going on. You have high expectations for yourself and for the offense and when it's not – anytime you have a three-and-out or it's kind of herky-jerky you can get frustrated and he found ways to make plays even after plays that he was frustrated at which a lot had to do with me so together we'll keep moving forward and I'm excited to do so."
(On the challenge of facing Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson and their defense) – "It's as good of a challenge as you get in the National Football League. I've been following – that team has spawned a ton of ideas for me personally in the run game. They do an unbelievable job at forcing you to defend all gaps and be sound and then they do a good job in the pass game, too, with things to balance that out. So you have to account for all 11 players on every down. You really do. You have to have a plan for all the different bells and whistles that they run. They're very physical when moving players and that's one of their challenges. And you can't take anything for granted really when you play a dynamic playmaker at the quarterback position like they have Lamar Jackson so it's going to be a fun game, a challenging game, one that we're going to have to leave no stone unturned in the entire process for us to come out the way we want to come out this coming Sunday."
(How tough was the call to go with WR Trent Sherfield and promoting WR River Cracraft instead of WR Erik Ezukanma? I know Erik obviously has flashed, but you have a background with Trent and River and they are trustworthy. What went into that decision? How tough a call was that?) – "No, it was tough because you know that Erik (Ezukanma) can make plays, but at the same time, we were anticipating some position versatility that we needed and having River come up, he can make a ton of plays, too. I think that is something that it is tough when you have multiple players that you're confident in, but at the same time, you embrace those decisions on a weekly basis because it's not what you're left with, it's who gives you the best opportunity in the given gameplan. So I was happy for River to get in and get some plays and I told Erik that it's also an opportunity for him. Any time you're not active on the active roster, the tendency for players to do is to is to – it sucks for them and they want to hide from the moment. I just told him, 'No, this is something that you use to your advantage moving forward. You take in the environment. You take in the plays that you think you could make out there, and you use that as motivation moving forward to be extra detailed on your game plan. And as soon as he just gives the rest of his team the confidence that he can own game plans week-in, week-out from multiple positions, he won't have that problem anymore, which he understood and he is going to move forward amicably."