Read the full transcript from Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's press conference on October 1, 2023.
(Just take us through the game how you saw it. First two drives came out how you wanted and then what happened after that?) – "I'm very proud of our guys for going out there, continuing to fight against a really good team, a division rival. Ever since I came to the league, it's always been a tough game. Then you come here and play at their stadium, it makes it even tougher with their fans. Their fans are great with how they get into the flow of the game. Off of the two drives that we had, I thought that we did really well with our communication in and out of the huddle, getting guys where they needed to be and lining up and executing. Then with the other drives, there were a lot of communication errors on my part. I've got to be better with that aspect of the game for our guys and not put the guys into those situations, and that's really what the game turned out to be. It was really stopping ourselves on first down, guys not knowing where to go because of formational issues with what was communicated in the huddle and things like that. So it's on my part to be better for those guys in the locker room."
(You mentioned the communication not carrying over from the first two drives. Was it just as simple as like it's way too loud?) – "It was tough to hear numbers Mike (McDaniel) had been telling me prior to the crowd noise, and the crowd noise was really loud, but that's also a me thing, understanding the game plan, knowing the game plan, knowing what we want to get done. And then situational awareness with our plays that we want to run, so that's on my part."
(For you guys to take the next step, whatever the next step is, you have to beat that team. Does it feel like they've had your number for a while?) – "They're a tough team. They're a divisional opponent. You always want to do the best that you can to win as many divisional games as you can. But this is Week 4 – a lot of football to play. We'll see them again."
(Did you see anything specific from the way that they've played you schematically that could have led to some of the issues that you had?) – "Not necessarily. I think they just do a really good job playing the things that they play, and they play really well. They pressured on the early downs in the earlier drives of the game, and then they kind of got their flow of the game. Then they started to just play what they play – play coverage, read their run fits, read their run keys and things like that. I think they've done a great job on that side of the ball in mitigating big plays for us offensively."
(Did they do anything differently after that second drive? Again, you guys had your way – both offenses did really there to start. But then coming out the third drive, I think it started to go downhill from that. Did they do anything differently?) – "They played the way they've been playing. Like I said, it was just communication issues, being down on the clock, not being able to allow guys to be in the position that we want them to be in because time doesn't permit. So that's my fault. I've got to be better, and I will be better for those guys."
(It seemed like after T Terron Armstead left the game, it seemed like guys were coming in untouched or unblocked at the line of scrimmage. Was that communication as well?) – "Yes, and like I said, that's on me not communicating to all of our guys. It has to do with everything. Motions, protection, it has to do with everything. I didn't allow those guys to go out there and play football the way they want to play football. It was basically guys are thinking and guys were having to guess. That's not how I want our guys to go out and play, and that's something that I need to be better with and I'll work on."
(Two-part question here, not football related. What does it mean to you to be a Christian and a football player? How does your faith help you move on from games like this?) – "I think the best thing about being a believer of Jesus Christ, to me, is that the Good Lord up above doesn't care whether you win a game, whether you lose a game. For me, it's been a little tough having to play on Sundays, having to understand that I'm not able to go to church. Really a lot of it is having to watch church online after games and things like that. But allowing me this platform, to me, is the thing in the world to be able to profess my faith on something that I firmly believe in, something that's been foundationally instilled in me at a young age. When I'm out there, I even pray before I go out to a series and whatnot. I'm always praying. I'm on the sideline (and) it looks like I'm talking to myself, I'm speaking in tongues. Some people think, 'What? This guy knows how to speak in tongues?' I grew up in a non-denominational Christian church my entire life, so yeah, it does a lot. So having to remember scripture always keeps me encouraged in continuing to press forward, especially in times like this."
(I wanted to ask about OL Connor Williams being out and OL Liam Eichenberg being in there. I know that you guys have specific pre-snap operations with OL Connor Williams. How did that maybe change working with OL Liam Eichenberg?) – "I think Liam (Eichenberg) did a tremendous job. I am very, very proud (and) very happy for what he's done and the task that was asked of him. To play center on the road in a loud environment against this d-line, against this defense, (I'm) very, very proud of him and how he conducted himself in getting guys in the right places to block our run game and also get guys in places to block our pass game. So I'm very proud of him."
(Did any part of last week linger? Obviously, good or bad, you want to flush last week, but last week was not any other game.) – "I would say from my standpoint, I didn't feel as if any of the guys in the locker room took it in a way of, 'Oh yeah, we won by this much. That's how it's going to feel the next game, and then the next game it's going to carry over.' I didn't feel like that was necessarily the deal, but we did understand, and we did know that this was going to be a tough opponent regardless. These guys weren't going to care what we did last week. I don't think any other team is going to care what team they have next did prior. Guys are going to come out and guys are going to play. This is the league, and this is how it works. It's very good, because I would say it's also very humbling for a lot of people to be able to have the highest high and then you lose in a manner like this, it's very humbling. For some, it's much needed."
(I was curious, what was Head Coach Mike McDaniel's message to you guys? Obviously not the way you guys expect to lose coming into the matchup, what was his message to you guys in the locker room?) – "I would say the message from Mike (McDaniel) was don't blink. There's a lot of football left, continue to look at the guy next to you, continue to trust him, continue to keep playing and remember what you play for. It's tough when you lose and you lose like this, but we're not going to blink. We're going to continue to do what we do. We're going to go back in. We're going to work on the things that need to be worked fixed and need to be corrected. I can promise you one thing, we'll definitely be better from this."