Read the full transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022.
(On whether T Austin Jackson's ankle injury could land him on IR) – "It's one of those things that you kind of have to take day-by-day. There has been improvement. As far as how much improvement there'll be by game time, you'd have to ask his ankle. (laughter) I don't speak ankle so I don't really know."
(Does it look severe in terms of broken or an IR kind of thing?) – "For sure not broken and it's one of those issues – ankles are finicky so they're definitely case-by-case. But I know he's doing everything he can to get ready."
(You've talked a lot about the component of speed that you guys have and saw it for the first time in a real game on Sunday. Can you talk about what you saw? Obviously, beyond WR Jaylen Waddle's touchdown. But what it is to coach it and what is it to coach against it for opponents?) – "I think it's a wonderful tool and resource assuming that you can't just be a fast guy. When you're fast and you can play strong and you can have a diverse route tree; it's an issue because you can expand the field in the same amount of time more than other teams, so that puts stress on the defense. None of that stress even matters unless you have a group of guys working together so that you have time to throw the ball, you make the correct progression, coaches call the right plays to put players in successful situations and all that. So it's not by itself. But it was cool to see those guys running around and playing within the timing of our offense, which helped us on the success we did have."
(I know we asked you about the run game after Sunday's game, but you have four games worth of film if you go back to the preseason. Is there anything that sticks out in terms of maybe not getting the production that you would have hoped for on the ground?) – "There's no common theme. I would be very stressed if there was a common theme. You are always coaching on every run play to max out yardage. We want everybody that we can account for blocked. There's one ball carrier, so there's always one guy you can't block and so we detail that every week. The whole idea of the offense in general is not to have a ton of yards rushing every week. It's to win. It's to have productive offense and to take advantage of what the defense is giving you. So I think there will be games with that type of effort. There will be games that against a different nucleus of run defenders, we may have more yards rushing. If people overcommit to stop in it, we have to make them pay. That's just offense in general to me. So I'm not as results oriented. I saw guys finishing, guys knew who they were going to and as always, as there is every game, there was some technique stuff to improve on. But I did think that we started running the ball later in the game better, and that's kind of when they knew we were going to run it, so I was encouraged by that."
(I have a question about the tackles if I could. T Terron Armstead was obviously a little banged up and T Greg Little, too. A, what was that like trying to keep all that together on Sunday? And do you expect both those guys to be available?) – "No, it's not the first rep that I've had at that. Again, I've tried to take advantage of all the opportunities that I have had to be involved in a game day operating process. So it was obviously not ideal, but you just go back to when it's not the first time that has happened to you, you just have to adjust and communicate. I spent probably three seconds thinking about it, and then made the proper adjustments in my mind for what you do in those types of situations and then moved on. Injuries will always happen, sometimes multiple to a position and as long as your coaching staff and players are prepared for contingency plans – we were even prepared for the next contingency should another player had gone down – so that's the nature of the business, although not ideal. No one cares after the game how hard it was for you. Then as far as this upcoming game, all of our guys are really working diligently to try to make it. I know Terron (Armstead), in his career, has been able to fight through injuries with the best of them. So they're going to do their best and we'll obviously make the best decision later in the week on who gives us the best chance to win counting in all those issues with injuries and what it kind of looks like."
(When you look at the game from last year, maybe the defense's one of their better performances last season. Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer was here; you weren't. But when you look at it, and having so much the same personnel on defense, are you encouraged that you're going to be able to make QB Lamar Jackson's day as difficult as it was last year?) – "No, I've been trying this whole formula for a while now, but I wish we could take the points that we scored or the points that we didn't allow scored and apply it to this game. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Teams are a collection of human beings that are in the present moment, so although it was cool to watch them, I can put myself in the shoes of the players, of the fans, of the organization. I know what losing streaks are like. So on a nationally televised game, it had to be pretty cool, but as it relates to this game, they get paid, too. That's a very, very prideful organization that has been at the top of the NFL for a long, long time. Another team that completely dwarfs my win-loss record. So that's about where it stops, is you watch it for schematic stuff, but as far as it applying to this week, I don't think it pertains really."
(How's your sleep schedule versus your last stops?) – "I actually get more sleep now than I did in my past endeavors. That's partially because it didn't matter. I used to be able to really push it from game day to almost Wednesday without showering. Now that would be obvious. I can't hide. (laughter) So you prioritize that. That's something that I knew had to be adjusted from the moment that I was assembling the coaching staff. So back in February and March, you're thinking about that, knowing that you need to – and I've articulated it to the guys that we retained and the guys that I hired that, hey, I'm going to need – you're looking for people that can help you through this process. So the whole offseason has been spent making sure that we're on the same page, that we are a collection of individuals, not just one person. I am accountable and will always be accountable for whatever decision's made. That's my job as the head coach. But my job is also to make the best or make everybody around me their very best. And they in turn, make me better by allowing me to get a little more sleep. So it was a personal record for me last night to get all my work done. And then the stuff that I can delegate allowed me to get a little shut-eye, which is good."
(George Godsey, the former co-offensive coordinator here being on the offensive staff in Baltimore, does that at all affect kind of the familiarity? He's obviously very familiar with the defense here. Does that affect your game planning at all?) – "That case in point – I used to be kind of paranoid about that whether it was players or coaches, in the beginning of my career. And then over time, you realize that there's so many different nuances. Being an expert at what we did right then is powerful, but this is a new, completely new year. We've had a whole offseason. The schedule – when did the schedule come out? May? So in May we knew that Game 2 is going to be Baltimore. We know those former coaches are on the staff, but it doesn't really affect anything specifically. It really doesn't affect that much on the next calendar year."
(I wanted to ask about S Eric Rowe. Is he on track to increase his participation in practice and possibly play?) – "We're hoping so. I know he was really locked in, in the game. He wanted to be there with his teammates. He's very beneficial when he is able to play and we hope to see continued improvement. As it stands, he's limited, but we hope to see continued improvement during the course of the week."
(Who plays QB Lamar Jackson at practice today?) – "I do. (laughter) No, I mean, that's, again, that's part of the delegation process. You try to use a couple different people. But the bottom line is, you're not going to replicate it. That's part of the shock and awe on game day, when you are – he's the most dynamic athlete for sure, at that position. He's continued to develop his pass game skill set, which you guys saw a little on display in the second half of the Jets game. So regardless of who it is, I'm not going to put pressure on one person, put them on blast in the media. But we'll just say it's a collection of individuals because it takes a collection of individuals to stop him."
(When you looked at the film from the New England game and you saw CB Kader Kohou play 18 snaps and have the production he did, what did that show you?) – "Well, hopefully it showed you guys we're not all crazy working around here. It was something that, I was happy for him as a rookie. I can just tell it on his face this week. He's a cool dude who has an incredible story, but you can see he's coming out of his shell. And I thought he was a lot more quiet than he really is. I think he just wanted to prove himself before he did so. Well, he's been proving himself to the coaches and his teammates for a while. He does stuff every day that you get fired up about, and I think he acknowledges his situation as well, where it's cool to make some plays; you should gain confidence, but know, as a rookie, it's more about, okay, there's something that's going to happen that you're not going to like. You're either going to be a little off or something is coming. It is the nature of this game. So focusing on okay, we can't just live on 'hooray, I get cheers, and people celebrate me.' No, take what you can learn from, from the game, even if it's good or bad. And where are you going to be at when you get beat or somebody makes a play on you the next play."
(What's so fascinating about Sunday, and a big decision for Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer is whether to use obviously the same strategy that was unique that worked so well in the Thursday night game. We're not going to know that decision until obviously game time Sunday, but will you give him input on whether you think he should? Do you defer to him and say you do what's best? Or will you offer your thoughts on that when you meet with him this week?) – "No, that's kind of the way I look at being a head coach in general, is that I want people to own everything as though they are the head coach of whatever position they're doing. So for Josh (Boyer), I see him as the head coach of defense. That being said, it's important and that's what we work on weekly to have a relationship. We talk through a lot of different things. Ultimately on game day, when something happens, it's under the pretense that I'm approving it. I can be on their headset. I choose to use my words wisely, but if there's a defensive call that happens, good or bad, all the good ones I gave a thumbs up to. (laughter) No, all that I'm very aware of his plan, and really our plan. And that's something as a working coaching staff, we work together in practice, as well as the game, so that we're always communicating and on the same page."
(What do you want to see from QB Tua Tagovailoa over the next couple days of practice leading into Sunday?) – "What do I want to see from him?"
(Or what do you what do you need to see as his…?) – "It's just the continued growth. He hasn't been satisfied at all, so he keeps building upon. It doesn't always look it, but you got to remember it's his first year in the offense and it's the first time we're working together. So I want to see him focus on the stuff that he knows that he was frustrated with to get better. But also, I want to see his confidence continue to grow because he should get more confidence each and every day that he's playing the position with us and doing it at a high level."
(CB Kader Kohou after the game said he had no idea if he was up or down, he just figured he saw the pads in his locker and he went out there. He didn't even know that… he thought…?) – "He's a rookie. Our proper protocol is to individually seek out those not active before the game. So we don't go to each player and be like, 'congratulations, you're active.' (laughter) So (it was a) rookie deal. That doesn't surprise me. I think we want especially our rookies to assume that they're playing every day because they've got to max out their preparation and catch up to the curve that's the rest of the veterans in the National Football League."