Miami Dolphins Transcript Head Coach Mike Mc Daniel 9/22/2023

Head Coach Mike McDaniel

(WR Jaylen Waddle, out Sunday?) – “Jaylen Waddle will be practicing today. He is still in protocol. As a coach, I always prepare for worst case scenarios, but we’ll see how he progresses and see what the medical staff tells me about his position and the protocol tomorrow and the day after and the day after and the day after.”

(Best case scenario, is it possible for WR Jaylen Waddle to play on Sunday?) – “I’m going to wait until he clears the protocol first before I even enter into is it best or worst for him or other players. I’m just going to wait until he clears the protocol before I even enter into that whole field. Stay in my lane.”

(Are you optimistic about T Terron Armstead?) – “I am optimistic. He’s giving me reason for optimism. He has had a real good work week, so I feel good about where he’s at. I’m hoping that there’s just green lights and no red lights until Sunday.”

(Do you have confidence that T Terron Armstead has the stamina to play 50+ snaps?) – “Yeah, that’s something that he holds over his own head as a veteran that he is. That’s anxiety that he has rid himself of the last couple of weeks because when he when he was going through whatever he’s going through, then he’s making sure that he can do everything he can to compensate for that. So if he were a younger player that didn’t know what he was getting into, I would be concerned. I think that’s one of the reasons it made it an easier decision for me last week, so that we can avoid that. So you’re dead on.”

(How is LB Jaelan Phillips doing?) – “He’s good. I only answer questions about Jaelans. (laughter) No, he’s doing good and I feel very optimistic about him as well. Those two guys, you’re fortunate enough to make decisions that aren’t short-sighted with players that are as important to your team as Jaelan Phillips or Terron Armstead when you have a team that has a lot of capable contributors. I think that being pragmatic, I would say, last week, makes me feel pretty good about this week.”

(A policy question for you on quarterbacks making tackles after they throw an interception, I haven’t been able to ask you this for a few weeks. I believe when QB Tua Tagovailoa had his interception, he kind of threw his body in front of the guy but the guy was close to the end zone. When QB Mike White threw his, I recall him kind of headfirst going at a guy’s knees. How do you want your quarterbacks to handle that? And do they need, like Tua if it’s a touchdown, understand, but do you want them to kind of shove the guy if pursuit is coming or go all out? What do you want them to?) – “I start my preventative measures by, ‘Hey, guys, listen, don’t throw a pick’. But when you do, you’re a player on this team. I coach them to stop the ball. And the same way that you coach people to keep their head out of the game in terms of just tackling functionality 101, you’re trying to stop the ball. One thing on turnovers that I think was brought to my attention in Atlanta was Terry Robiskie had trained Roddy White and Julio Jones, far before we got there, and emphasized that on turnovers, generally the fastest people on the field need to have ownership on that turnover not becoming a touchdown. And so when I talk about the quarterback stopping the ball, I’m saying, ‘You have to stop the ball from getting into the end zone. You need to be a part of the team.’ And then I’m also emphasizing all the skill players to pursue. There’s a weight that you have to carry when you have a low 40 time and high GPS. No pressure, no diamonds.”

(I watched your episode of The Pivot podcast, and you alluded to pretty much learning on the job under Kyle Shanahan and making sure you took advantage of that time with him. But I’m curious as you’ve had now a full year and two games calling plays, what have you learned from that time as a play caller, as a first-time play caller opposed to what maybe you’ve had expectations of that role when you came on the job?) – “There’s the element of unknown. You’re putting yourself in situations like what’s the difference between a practice rep and a game rep? Well, it should be the same, but it’s completely different. It’s just human nature. So I think I was prepared for the decisions that would occur. I was prepared for the types of binds that you’d be put in live speed. But you also learn a lot of – it’s not like when I was training myself while Kyle called plays and I worked with him and suggested and plays and all of that stuff, I wasn’t thinking about the 40-second clock. I wasn’t thinking from a team perspective, in relation to the game and what the defense was doing and how aggressive to be. I think it has been night and day difference for me this season in terms of the natural gait with which you call a game. So I think that allows our players the opportunity they deserve to not be rushed at the end of a play clock. And then some of the decisions, I find there’s a lot less emotion going on in the game for me, which is what I tried to train myself to do because you don’t want in hindsight, well why did you make this decision? Well, because I was all geeked up about something. It’s easier for me to have a level head and understand how many decisions I have to make through the course of the game. Being able to just make the best decision doesn’t mean it’s the right decision. The result will kind of dictate that. But there’s nothing like that hands-on experience that I was able to have since I’ve been here.”

(You mentioned level-head. I’m curious, you guys are 2-0 this year. Obviously, things are going great. You had a five-game losing streak last year. How do you make sure you maintain kind of an equilibrium there? How do you decompress to make sure you’re not spreading how you feel onto the team or even when you go home with your family? How do you make sure to stay even-keeled?) – “It’s easier for me because I’m very literal with 2-0. 2-0 means you have two wins. So, what does that mean? That means nothing to me. When you’re proactive, and I talked to the team at length about this in April, what’s going to happen when you win? What’s going to happen when you win a couple in a row? You expect probable positivity. If you’re 2-0, that’s all that means. There’s no level of high. We did our jobs, and we won the game, which is what we’re trying to do each and every game. That’s a checked box, that’s not a high five. I think that’s a very important part of it, to understand the journey, to understand, really, what you are trying to do. No one signed up to have a stellar road two-game win streak. ‘All right, we’re good guys. Let me go get the lawn chair. And get my oils and let’s go chill.’ (laughter) You’re also just very, very real with the fact that we’re 2-0 but we have a nine-point point differential. How different are you than the Denver Broncos, who are 0-2 with a three-point point differential. For anyone to have a visceral opinion of themselves after two games is short-sighted. It’s easy for me because I think this way, but it’s also my job to make sure that the team is seeing it that same way. I’m confident through Thursday’s practice that our team understands that it’s about us developing and continuing to get better and hopefully winning games in the process to position ourselves where we can best make a push at the end of the season.”

(With T Terron Armstead on track to play Sunday and T Kendall Lamm having played so well, I know you and Offensive Line Coach Butch Barry and Offensive Coordinator Frank Smith talk about everything. Have you talked about looking at Kendall at right tackle? Or is the thinking that OL Austin Jackson is playing well, we want to see it through with this young player, Austin Jackson, at this position?) – “I think specifically with the offensive line group, that is something that, you’re right, we’ve had to talk about a lot. One of the things that we knew going into the season is you can’t just have a stagnant thought process with regard to that group. You have a valuable asset in the fact that you have depth, and you don’t just all of a sudden close your eyes and say, ‘okay, this is bestowed to you.’ I think that depth makes just an even extra incentive for every player across the board to make sure that they’re putting their best foot forward because the Miami Dolphins need the best player that’s available, not the guy that just played before. Even while he has been starting, we’ve made sure to get work on the right side because you don’t know about injuries. Then you also don’t crown anyone long term when you have depth like that. You make sure that the best players play and you give people opportunities to dictate that. But that will always, like the whole season, we’ll really make sure that we’re going in with the best crew and that each player is the best person at their position. Right now, Austin Jackson is playing awesome and it’s on Austin Jackson to continue his progress, which I’m very confident he will. If he doesn’t, or if somebody gets hurt, you’re not tied to anything when you have a group of people working together in one direction. I think that’s the way they want it as well. Ironically, nobody wants gifts. People want their jobs earned, especially on this team. They want to play next to the best player that’s there. I think we’re in a good spot and even if lineups don’t change, that doesn’t mean we haven’t thought through that.”

(A question about athletes using doubt as motivation. RB Raheem Mostert said yesterday, he remembers everybody who has cut him. I wonder is it healthy, to you, for athletes to use that as motivation? And how much do you use that when you’re talking to the team, that nobody thinks you can win the AFC East or blah, blah blah?) – “I think it can be healthy if utilized correctly. Keeping reminders, not forgetting slights or when people have shortchanged you, I think it’s healthy to use that as motivation, for sure. If you’re using it for motivation, that’s great. If it’s the only reason you’re doing something, then you’re probably going to make some poor decisions in that process. So as long as people use adversity for whatever their goals are – I know for me personally, I’m not sure if I run them through my brain all the time but I’m hyper-aware of the innumerable times that people told me I couldn’t do something. I think it’s healthy – it’s okay to be aware and to take that for what it is and use it to your benefit moving forward. But as long as it’s for your benefit and not overly projected in one direction, because that can turn a little negative if you just start obsessing about this person did this to me, then your whole conversation is about what they’re doing and has nothing to do with what you’re going to do about it.”

(I heard about some dance lessons or ballroom dancing that you did back in the younger days.) – “I’ve never done ballroom dancing. I mean, I have been known to have some ownership of the dance floor. (laughter) If you turn some music on, have the ambiance right, maybe there can be some lessons had. But I don’t think I would be the one learning them. Boom. (laughter)

(Can you do the “Waddle?”) – “There are just layers to me. Some layers I try to keep a little secret, but I’m not sure if that’s what you’re alluding to. But interesting caveat, yes, all the music that I listen to that’s generally hip hop. I might surprise a person here or there with my ability to rhythmically follow along with the baselines.”