Read the transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022.
(So was QB Tua Tagovailoa able to do everything in the walkthrough that he typically would if he were fully healthy? Did you distribute QB Teddy Bridgewater's and QB Tua Tagovailoa's snaps differently than you typically would in a walkthrough?) – "It's a tricky scenario. Luckily that's one of the reasons why we feel so fortunate to have Teddy (Bridgewater). But if this were like an actual real practice on a normal week, Tua (Tagovailoa) would be limited and he would be questionable for the game. As far as walkthroughs and stuff and just in general, this much I know about Tua; him and I's relationship is strong. He actually called me at like, 10:50 last night. And I'm like, 'Dude, is everything okay?' [Tua said] 'No, I'm just checking in on you.' I'm like, 'Alright, that's fun.' And just him talking to me, I can tell in his voice, he's literally going to do everything he can and in his power, so I know that he's going to do everything you can to play. So I'll know that if he doesn't play that it literally was not possible and we're just taking measures accordingly for Teddy beyond that. But I'm happy with the way he's so far progressed and feel very optimistic because of how he's going about it."
(In regards to QB Tua Tagovailoa, is it pain or is it functionality with the back that may be what is in flux with his…?) – "Literally like pain and stability of both injuries because I'm not sure – have you ever thrown your back out at all or had any…? Like apparently, you need your back for literally everything. So it's the functionality of it because all of a sudden your back's overly tight or you feel that crazy pain. Your body has a reaction process that you can all of a sudden – you can lose all your power in your throws, you can't redirect and once you can't protect yourself on an NFL football field, we have to protect you. So it's both. Yeah, there'll be some pain regardless. It's whether or not that pain hurts him from being able to put his production on the field and escape impending danger, which is part of the job of an NFL quarterback on Sundays, or Thursdays."
(When you watch QB Joe Burrow the last couple years and coming into this season, what do you see?) – "Well, coming off the bus, I see swag. And then on the field – which yeah, I have a sound place in my heart for [swag]. (laughter) But yeah, you really, really like – I don't know, I appreciate guys, that you know, you're the No. 1 pick in the draft. That is a burden for some. It was a blessing for him and I really respect guys that come out, take all that hype and do justice by it or exceed it. The guy has great vision and awareness. He's very mobile both within the pocket staying a passer and escaping to run. Great touch. Great accuracy. And he really not only makes plays for their offense, but he helps other players make plays because of his ball location. So he's one of the true young flag bearers of our league that does a great job and it's a tremendous challenge for our defense to go out there and face him really."
(Speaking of hype, how does the team keep from buying too much into their own hype? With you guys specifically, getting a lot of attention in certain power rankings and talk shows and so on and so forth, how does a team block that out?) – "It's pretty simple. The hype, the power rankings, everything you're talking about; unless I missed in the bylaws somewhere that that gets you a playoff berth, then what are we talking about? I think that that's the thing is it's just understanding the natural course of the narrative and this week is going to be the same. You explain to the guys and they totally get it that hey, if we win there are going to be further crowns. They are going to say all this. None of that relates to what we're trying to do. We're trying to get better every week. So what does that have? Nothing. Or we lose the game and they're going to say, 'oh, yeah, see I told you, it's the Dolphins that won three.' So regardless, you just know there's going to be a narrative and a reaction to whatever happens and then you just stay true to what you're trying to do. We're trying to win football games and more importantly in the process, we're trying to get better every week so we're playing our best football at the end of the season because that's where you're truly judged. So none of the power rankings or the hype factor in on that. To me, I try to cater to any of the guys that are in love with attention and let them know that, 'hey, if you still want this attention, keep winning.'"
(With the short week and with how much your defense was on the field Sunday, there's only so much time between the two games. How do you get as much rest or do as little as possible so the guys can be as fresh as they possibly can?) – "There's no perfect formula. Our team very much understands that Thursday night games do great things for the league in terms of fans are able to see a Thursday night game and all the revenue that it brings, but it's a challenge nonetheless. And there's no perfect formula. You got to sleep, you got to eat right, honestly, you've got to rest. But the bottom line is, both teams are on short weeks. It's out of the norm. You only do once a year, so you're not going to be used to it. There's an element of will, that you just have to – yeah, there's no doubt that's the defense played enough for two games, like a couple days ago. But one thing I do know is no one's going to care when the ball is kicked off in Cincinnati, whatever that is, in two nights. No one's going to care. So you have to do the best that you can but then get guys in the mind frame of two teams are playing one game on an evening, take pride in that and just go after it with full force, and you're going to have to dig deep. And as a result and as a reward, you'll get a couple of days off after."
(Your offense has shown a lot of skills or traits or characteristics, whatever you want to say. What have you liked most about what the offense has shown so far?) – "I really like how you're starting to see guys strain through plays longer. You're starting to see guys play for each other. I'm really liking how we've developed our standard with which we go about our business. How we run off the ball, how we finish plays, the things that aren't result-oriented but more big picture and how you look; I'm happy with where we're at right now because we're continuing to progress and hopefully we'll continue to even get better with that. Early in the season, especially in Year 1, there's a lot of things you're feeling out. But the one thing I don't have any patience for and the one thing that I'd really hope for is that the standard with which we play the game of football together looks in the way that it's trending right now."
(How would you evaluate your cornerbacks opposite of CB Xavien Howard? And to piggyback off that, is there any sort of update on by Byron Jones over the next couple of weeks?) – "Well, I haven't heard you guys ask that many questions about corners outside of 'X'. And, they're kind of like referees in that regard. Where, if you're not talking about them sometimes it's a good thing. I was just so happy we were fortuitous that guys got extra reps in the offseason, that they got to feel what it was like to be depended upon on the first team defense. I think I'm very happy with the play that we've got. I think it's been very competitive. I think people have tried to attack them. And, guys will always make their plays, but I think they've done a really good job and they can't be targeted that way, play and play out. You end up worrying. So I feel great about that with Byron. All I know is there is nothing new to update except that I can see, especially on the sidelines during our games, I can see vigor and eagerness in his eyes that let me know it's progressing and he's excited to get back because if you queued a camera to him during the games, he's as locked in as everybody. So I feel very good about that. We'll see as it continues to progress."
(You have a history degree from Yale. I was just curious how's your top three dolphins running backs up all the time. How does that list look?) – "I didn't have that in my course curriculum. But I mean, how can you not do Mercury (Morris),and (Larry) Csonka off the rip. Then there's some pretty good ones in the 80s. Ricky Williams is a strong one. Mercury and Csonka are 1, 2, for sure. And then do you guys want me to go with like a Terry Kirby or something? (laughter) I don't know. I would leave it open for this Tuesday of a Thursday night game, for what I'm probably forgetting, considering I barely know my name. So if I could just not be held to that top three, know that there's two of them. I want to be a little more convicted on the third because there's like five different options that. Yeah, to be continued."
(If I can ask you one more on QB Tua Tagovailoa, just because he's the quarterback. I know sometimes these go up to gametime decisions. But do you hope to make a call before Thursday, before the game, on if it will be him or QB Teddy Bridgewater? Do you have a timeline?) – "Yeah, I think I have to. It's just in a short turnaround like this, I don't have reps at back and ankle injuries on a Thursday night game. So I'm going to take the rest of the day and then as soon as we can probably at some point tomorrow, I'd like to. If it's more up in the air, I know that's one thing that we can handle with our guy in Teddy is that part of the reason it was so paramount and I was so pumped that (General Manager) Chris (Grier) and the guys were able to get it done was because you have to be able to adjust as a backup quarterback and really nothing would change that much in terms of how to call the game. We have a bunch of faith in him. So we're walking through in general, anyway. So Teddy has to take reps each and every play in terms of calling the play and visualizing everything as it stands. So we'll probably just take it as long as we have to before we can be convicted. But at some point there has to be – it won't be five minutes before kickoff I know that. Probably some time on Wednesday, but if we have to, we'll move it to Thursday morning."
(Is there any concerns with WR Jaylen Waddle and S Brandon Jones popping up on the injury report? And while we're on the topic, CB Xavien Howard and T Terron Armstead?) – "Again, there are so many unknowns that I'd really lump all those guys together and know that they all know how important it is for us to have them operate for us to go win the game. And they are all – I think we had guys in the training room in the facility after the game on Sunday. Like guys came and got treatment. So guys are really doing everything they can to try to make up this unique timeline and I expect to see most, if not all of them. But we'll adjust if we have to."
(How fresh could they be expected to be 48 hours after a game?) – "My impression from them is that you guys tell me more about how you're feeling because all I see is a team that's geeked up to play on Thursday night. So I have to kind of pull teeth to get there the real answers from how their bodies are feeling but I think they recognize the moment, they recognize the opportunity and they are eager to go experience that whole opportunity with their teammates."