Miami Dolphins Transcripts – November 23 – Head Coach Mike McDaniel, QB Tua Tagovailoa, WR Jaylen Waddle, T Terron Armstead, S Jevon Holland, DT Christian Wilkins and LB Jaelan Phillips

QB Tua Tagovailoa

(What are you thankful for this holiday season?) – “I’m thankful for a lot of things, very thankful for a lot of things. I would say I first off have to be thankful for my family, my parents, my siblings. I’m very thankful for my wife. I’m very thankful for our child that we have together. I am also very thankful for our coaches, our coaching staff. I’m thankful for my teammates, very thankful for the supporting staff that we have here – guys that work in the equipment room, the janitors that are around here, the kitchen people, everyone that is a part of this organization I’m very thankful for. I’m thankful for (our football communications) team with our media and how (they) handle business with that. There’s a lot of things to be thankful for, and we as an organization, as a team, we have it really good. So I don’t want to waste an opportunity like this to be very thankful to a lot of people that have helped not just myself but other guys in this organization become who they knew they could be and become successful. So I’m very, very thankful and I’m glad you asked that. I don’t want to miss that opportunity to tell all those people that I’m very grateful and very thankful for them.”

(If I could just follow up quickly, does your perspective on football or life or the holidays, does all of that change now becoming a father?) – “Yeah, it’s very unique how having a child impacts how you see things differently in life. It’s like nothing that I’ve ever experienced. There’s no playbook for this because everyone’s experience is different, whether you’re having a boy first or a girl. I thank my Heavenly Father up above that I got a boy first. (laughter) Oh, man. I don’t know what I’d do if I had a girl. It’d be a little harder, I think, because I wouldn’t know what to do necessarily. (laughter) Having been around cousins that have had kids that were boys, it kind of makes it a little easier that I have a boy myself with my wife. But it definitely changes the perspective on how I look at kids. I’ve always had a tremendous amount of heart for kids, but now that I have one of my own, you go home and the best thing is when you see them smile and laughing. It’s the best thing in the world. And that I can do that for someone else’s kid, I would want the same for mine when mine does get older, so it definitely changes.”

(I hate to pivot after that to football, but earlier we were talking to Head Coach Mike McDaniel about play-calling and everything that goes into crafting a gameplan. I was curious from your perspective, what his made Head Coach Mike McDaniel’s gameplan and play-calling so unique from maybe different coaching staff that you’ve worked with?” – “I would say with (Head Coach) Mike (McDaniel), it’s not necessarily I would say scheme to where, ‘Oh, this could potentially happen.’ I mean, it could, but more than likely we know that’s kind of what they will be preparing for. Week to week, we have some carryover, but a lot of things are new in our passing game and in our running game and our play-action game. So he’s always working on things that can grow the offense and help the offense. So there’s a lot of nuances to the offense.”

(As a follow up, I was just curious, have you been wearing like a different helmet in terms of, I don’t know what it’s called, but the different elements of protection around your mouth? Or is that the same?) – “No, it’s the same.”

(You’re obviously at or near the top in many NFL statistical categories – passer rating, completion percentage, yards per attempt. There’s a lot of good stuff. I’m wondering, the 13-2 record as a starter in your last 15 starts, how important is that to you in comparison to all the many statistics that there are?) – “I think at the end of the day, as a team, we want to win regardless of who’s at the top of what in their category or position. We just want to come out with wins. And I would say those don’t necessarily entail that being a stat that I take as a quarterback stat, because essentially, you need the entire team. You need our special teams to stop their special team, our defense to stop their offense, and our offense to go and put points on the board. So collectively, that’s a team stat. I’m very proud that up to this point that we’ve been able to win 13 games and only lose two in a league that’s very tough to win games.”

(Coming off a game where we saw RB Jeff Wilson Jr. really spark the running game; for you, obviously, that’s an important part of the offense. Was there a noticeable ease to the game with the running game going the way it was? And how positive of a sign is that moving forward in your eyes?) – “It’s awesome. You see the type of runner that he is. You see the type of runner that Raheem (Mostert) is. I mean, you can’t go wrong with any of the guys that are in there, but you can’t dismiss also what our line up front, what they were doing with understanding their assignment, knowing who to block on the different run plays, and then if we change the run to a different run, re-Mike-ing (Mike linebacker) it, knowing where to go, understanding that. I don’t think many people see that and appreciate that, but we do in the building. I do know that that Jeff (Wilson Jr.) and Raheem, they really appreciate that. So, it really is entailed of everyone working together and being in sync. And if not, that 10-yard play could have been a touchdown, or that touchdown, if not blocked correctly, could have been a 10-yard play. So, that’s how it always works, even for the passing game.”

(Going over the tape from the past few games, what have you come away most pleased with doing?) – “Most pleased with doing? That’s hard, because I would say me, I never look at what I did really well. I look at the things that I can get better with. The things that we do well, let’s continue to do that and find nuances on how we can get those plays in more, but get it in different ways.”

(What’s been the most important thing you’ve been able to learn from QBs/Passing Game Coordinator Darrell Bevell?) – “Very detail oriented. I would say my relationship with ‘Bev’ (Darrell Bevell) has really grown a lot.  I, maybe three weeks, four weeks ago, I had him and his family come over to our house and we had dinner. We watched a movie as well, in the theater room. (He has a) great family. I think having someone of his personality where regardless of how cool you guys are, if you’re not on top of your stuff, he’s going to let you know. That’s kind of the relationship that I would say I have with him. Really good, but I know what he expects and what he expects I kind of expect out of myself as well.”

(I know you don’t like talking about things you’ve done well. But one thing has been anticipation. I’ve seen you kind of throw the ball to guys before they even got out of the breaks or to spots before they get there. I’m curious when you felt a level of trust in your offensive playmakers to be able to do that?) – “I would say that’s what we’ve been working on the entire OTAs and camp. That’s what we’ve been working on – anticipating it. If you look at our offense, that’s really what our offense is based off of. Anticipating and trusting that guys are going to be in the right spots, that they’re going to get to the right depth. Me taking the right drop to correlate with how deep they’re going in their route or when they’re breaking in, when they’re breaking out, when the ball should come out. That’s all an accumulation of all of that. And we’ve worked on that, like, numerous times. And that’s not just OTAs and training camp. That’s also the times we had leading up to training camp that we had to ourselves. We would all go out on our own and work on things like that and talk through them. So for us offensively, that’s nothing new for us.”

(Was there a time that you felt, ‘okay, this is where we want it to be like?’ Was there a period where it all started to click to what you guys want it?) – “Yeah, I would say maybe after the second game, I would say after the Baltimore game. That’s kind of when we all felt comfortable with who we were players-wise in the offense.”

(We see you and the receivers doing the handshakes and stuff every day in practice. I’m just curious how that came to be like. Was it your idea? Their idea? Just collectively?) – “I don’t know. (laughter) I really don’t know. I’m not even going to lie to you, I don’t know. I’m not even going to make something up.  I was going to say maybe, but I don’t know. (laughter)

(What’s going to be on your Thanksgiving plate tomorrow?) – “Oh my gosh. I don’t know what everyone’s going to make. But what I do like is I like some good stuffing. It depends on who makes it too … Well, everyone knows that they’re invited over to my house, but, probably only like six guys will show up. So, we’ll see.”

(Who is going to come over?) – “Brandon Jones always comes over with Bri. Jevon Holland, I think he’ll come over. He’s come over, I think – is this his second year? So he’s only come over once. So we’ll see if he comes over. There’s a couple other guys but we’ll see because some of them have their families in town as well too.”

(Who is in charge of the turkey though?) – “I don’t know. I’m not a big turkey fan. I do like ham though.”

(Just focusing on this week. I know you guys have the road trip coming up and coming off the bye, how important is it to just kind of stay locked in? I know coach was telling us how locked in you guys still are?) – “Yeah, it’s most definitely really important for us to stay locked in. We understand that we’ve had a bye and now Thanksgiving is coming up. Guys have family members coming in town. And you can get lost with not doing things that you would normally do on a weekly basis where maybe I’ll take this day off because it’s Thanksgiving and guys aren’t studying. I don’t think that’s the case for our guys. I know a lot of our guys were itching to come back. I mean, I was itching to come back. I had no idea what to do with myself last week, so I was trying to go to Panthers game, trying to do something to get my mind off of it. But it’s hard because you don’t want to go on a on a hot streak and then you go through bye. I almost wish we didn’t. But yeah, games like this, we understand that it’s going to be tough. We’ve looked at the film. We understand that Houston’s record doesn’t say a lot for them, but they play really hard. They play together as a team. We understand that this is going to be a tough one for us. So we got to be ready and prepared for them.”

(What was it like going to the Panthers game?) – “It was cool. I think that was like my fourth game. But that was my first time hitting the drum. It was awesome. It was cool. I might be bad luck though. I think at the first intermission it was (4-0). I was like we’ve got to go. These guys are doing bad because we’re here. I don’t know. I’m superstitious with that.”

(What about the Panthers’ reverse retro jerseys?) – “Oh, those jerseys were awesome. I’m very thankful that they gave me a jersey.”

DE Christian Wilkins

(How challenging is it not only coming off the bye week but going into Thanksgiving week where there’s distractions and stuff? I know you guys are professionals though.) – “Absolutely, you have to be professional. You have to handle your business. This is our job. This is our priority. So if you have family and stuff coming into town and all that other stuff, there’s a time and a place for all that. A lot of the guys handled their bye week off the right way, so hopefully we’ll just hit the ground running.”

(What’s your Thursday Thanksgiving looking like?) – “Just something lowkey, probably. Just going to enjoy some turkey and some mac and cheese and some mashed potatoes and some pie. Something pretty lowkey.”

(Pumpkin or pecan?) – “Pumpkin pie? Sweet potato pie or peach cobbler.”

T Terron Armstead

(What are you thankful for this holiday season?) – “Life, my family, where I am, my team. A lot. A ton to be thankful for.”

(What are the plans for this week?) – “Not much. I got some family in town. Going to cook up a little bit. I won’t be cooking this year. I’ll take Thanksgiving off, out of the kitchen. But just enjoying the family and inviting some of the guys over who don’t have family in town. We’ll have a good meal.”

(How has OL Austin Jackson looked as he looks forward to possibly playing again?) – “He’s been looking great. He’s been working his way back for some time now. Moving around well. Locked in in the meeting room for sure. Asking a lot of questions. Just trying to get caught up to speed. Hopefully we get a chance to get him back out there this week.”

(As a unit, what’s it like going from those weeks where people were in and out of the lineup to now it feels like you guys got depth?) – “That’s a great thing. That’s a beautiful thing. Having depth, having guys come in and get experience, get some playing time, live action will only be beneficial for us moving forward.”

(You had a Thanksgiving event yesterday?) – “Yes, I had one at the North Miami Beach Police Department. Me and B-Shell (Brandon Shell) went and passed out meals to 25 families.”

WR Jaylen Waddle

(What’s your favorite dish at Thanksgiving?) – “Stuffing. Turkey. It’s hard to choose. There’s a lot on the menu.”

(Are you hosting this year?) – “I am hosting. My people are coming out here – today and tomorrow they’re going to be out here.”

(Who is not allowed over because they eat too much food?) – “Raekwon (Davis), for sure. Raekwon, definitely. (laughter)

(Last year, wasn’t it you who was going to multiple people’s houses you said?) – “Yeah. Yeah, that’s me. That’s me. I might sneak over to a couple houses and grab some plates. Yeah, that’s going to be my plan. (laughter)

(How was the bye week? Were you almost a little antsy to get back considering how this team was rolling, like you almost just didn’t want to stop?) – “Yeah, definitely. I was excited just to come back and get around the guys again. It was a little break, but I think we needed it just to get away from the game. I’m excited to be back. I think we all are.”

(Anything special for you going up against the Texans being from Houston?) – “No. I grew up in Houston. I was a Texans fans. But I’m not too excited. I actually got to play against them last year, so I kind of got out all that good stuff.”

(The fans are having such a great time watching the offense this year. Are you guys having as much fun each game, knowing that the last game is just better than the last and better than the last? You guys are just doing something pretty special here. Do you feel it?) – “You can never really feel it while it’s happening. I think when we go back and watch film, we kind of see how good we can be. We’re just working on staying consistent and trying to get better each and every practice, each and every game.”

LB Jaelan Phillips

(What’s it like being back this week? Obviously, you guys are 7-3 going into this game before another road trip. How important is it to make sure you…) – “It’s extremely important. I always talk about how we just take it one day at a time and really dive into the process. You can’t overlook any team in the NFL. Everybody is super talented. There’s a reason they’re in the NFL. Everybody is coached well. Everybody has the ability to make big plays, so you definitely have to bring your A-game every single week.”

(How challenging is it, not only coming off the bye week, but then all of a sudden right into Thanksgiving week when there’s other distractions? Obviously, people might have family in town and stuff like that. How do you ultra-focus on the game?) – “I really don’t think it’s a distraction so much. I think it’s really just a blessing, honestly. A lot of guys don’t get to see their families throughout the season too much, so to be able to have them come down here for Thanksgiving and be able to hang out with some family and have some fellowship, if anything, it’s kind of like refreshing.”

(What are you thankful for this holiday season?) – “What am I thankful for? The Miami Dolphins. (laughter) I’m thankful for my teammates. I’m thankful for my family, my coaches, the situation that we’re in. I have a lot of gratitude every day.”

(Do you have any holiday plans?) – “To be at the house – I have a little 2,200 square foot house. We’re going to have like 17 people in there cooking, napping, having a good time.”

(You look like a great eater. What’s your ultimate plate?) – (laughter) I’m big – got the turkey on there, some little bit of cranberry, stuffing for sure, little green bean casserole. My family is [inaudible] mom’s parents, dad’s parents and stuff, so we grew up eating vegetarian casserole dishes, which sound nasty but are actually pretty good. So I might have a little bit of that, (and) sweet potato casserole, for sure, too.”

(What teammate wouldn’t you invite to your Thanksgiving because they’d eat too much of the food?) – “Zach Sieler. (laughter) No, John Jenkins. John Jenkins would eat all of my plates, for sure.”

Head Coach Mike McDaniel

(It’s clear that you and General Manager Chris Grier work well together, and you’re both easy guys to get along with, so it’s not surprising. But I was curious how the dynamic works in terms of when he signs a player, when the team signs a player, even if it’s something as simple as a practice squad move, does he run everything by you? I’m sure he gives you a heads up, but does he ask your opinion on everything, both offensive and defensive signings? How does that work?) – “I think we both look at it like this – we have points of emphasis or expertise that the team relies on us for, but we also know how interwoven we are for anything that happens within the organization, player decisions, all of that. But the biggest and most important thing is that we respect, regard, trust and rely on each other. So I wouldn’t say it’s like anything we do, there’s a steadfast procedure and (say), ‘Hey, no you do.’ It’s assumed that everything we do that we’re on the same page. If we’re not, we have this brilliant formula of just talking. (laughter) I’m not sure. I can’t speak on any of the relationships that people have outside of the relationship they have with me. But from the beginning when he was interviewing me, this is something that when someone is interviewing you and is part of the decision to hire you, I don’t take that lightly. We do everything as a team in that regard, and the assumption is that we’re on the same page with everything, and the second there’s – That’s the great thing is the second there’s anything like, ‘Hey, maybe he might not know this,’ or, ‘just to keep you up to date,’ or whatever, I think we both view that as our responsibility to the organization, knowing that (in) a healthy organization, the people that are put in positions of authority have to be on the same page. It’s like if you’re running a run play, the quarterback and running back better know that’s going to the right, or it doesn’t matter what the right guard’s block is. So I think that’s kind of how we approach it, and it’s a cool, deliberate and well-intentioned process. You always hope that you have a situation like that. You never know if you’re going to be afforded that, but I feel so, so fortunate and lucky, because it is very easy, relatively to a lot of people’s experiences, very easy to do my job, and hopefully I make his job easier as well.”

(One quick follow-up on that. Do you remember back in February, did General Manager Chris Grier ask you for either in a conversation or a list of guys that you would recommend that he consider? Or did it come up organically? Like as an example, did General Manager Chris Grier just say to you, what about RB Raheem Mostert or what about WR Trent Sherfield, guys you’re familiar with? Or did you actually give him a list of guys that you wanted him to consider?) – “I’m glad you asked that, because sometimes you lose sight of what people are aware of and what people aren’t. But Chris (Grier) views a team the same way I do. He’s very – he knows that he’s only as good as his department, as his relationship with me – we only go as far as we take each other. So with regard to every potential free agent in the offseason, he leads a process that I firmly, firmly co-sign and I see the exact same way, where he has the scouts present the available players and you don’t skirt anyone. You go through the process, because we’re only as good as our scouting department is and empowering those people, giving them a voice because we want to hear it and we don’t go in a locked room and make these decisions out of wherever. But we sit in a room, we go and allow everyone that we rely on to be part of the team to present their work (and) their opinions. You settle on it, and then once we go through that process in the room, we’ll get back together and kind of go in a direction that makes sense. But I wouldn’t – the best thing about our relationship is I don’t think I’ve ever heard him nor have I said, ‘Well, I decided this.’ The subconscious leaks out when – and we do not see (it as) this is his show, this is my show. We know that we succeed or fail together, and we know that we are a percentage piece of when things are going right with the Miami Dolphins, that we contribute. But it’s about the sum of all the parts. And I think that’s something that just – maybe that’s why he hired me because I see the same way as he does. I wouldn’t know any other way to do it.”

(I assume when you interviewed here, that was your first meeting was with General Manager Chris Grier, right?) – “Yes, it was a Zoom meeting. I’m not sure – it was an NFL Thursday before the divisional game in the playoffs last year.”

(So how do they go in terms of one, did you come away thinking, “I’ve got a pretty good shot at this job?” And two, what told you about General Manager Chris Grier’s words, that made you feel like, “Hey, I can really work with this guy?”) – “Chris is a natural GM. Part of being a GM is – I don’t even think he gambles, but if he did, he’d play poker. I knew that the first Zoom meeting went well when they scheduled a second meeting. You’re hopeful, but like, this is my first rep, like what am I – and I’m on a digital screen. If you guys think I’m moderately presentable in live person, Zoom is not exciting. I’m terrible at it. But I got another opportunity. I was encouraged when – I’m much the same person all the time in all atmospheres. I’m exactly how I am now to you guys to the team and in the interview process. So while I’m going on long-winded answers, as I generally do, I’d slip in like a little – does it have to be funny to be a joke? An attempt at a joke or whatever. And he would laugh. So I was like, ‘Alright, that’s cool.’ You don’t know if it’s a token laugh or whatever, but I felt good. He wasn’t – it’s his job to take in information and not rush to judgment really in everything. He’s got to be prudent. That’s why one of the things that really the Miami Dolphins benefit from, in our relationship as we do business, is he’s thinking about stuff that he’s not emotionally rushing to judgment. I didn’t really totally know. It went a good amount of time, which I figured was a good thing. And then I started at the – I think it was like seven hours. I don’t know, it was a while. And then I was at a point where like, ‘Man, this is going kind of good. I’m scheduled to go on a flight tomorrow morning. Man, I’ve got to make sure they don’t put me on that plane.’ So I did every trick in the book to try make a joke, ‘Hey, man. I’ll just hang around.’ I was feeling like I had a shot at that, and classic Chris and the crew, they sent me back home on a flight to go finish the process. So at that point, I felt great about – I was really, really, really hoping I’d get the job, not because of the obvious reasons, but specifically because I did see such a vision of like, ‘Man, this is a perfect fit.’ And I really wanted it, but I was at peace with the process because all of us involved, I feel like we were very transparent and authentic. It was very comfortable. It seemed natural, but you just never know. So that Sunday – I think it was Sunday, February 7, was brutal. Longest day ever, to the point that I fell asleep, waiting. We’re watching the Pro Bowl. Then at 2:46 (p.m.) I got the call, and it was a game changer – Pacific time.”

(I know we’ll get an injury report later today, but two guys Monday who appeared to be working on the side, WR Trent Sherfield and CB Xavien Howard. Are you optimistic about them playing Sunday?) – “I feel very, very good about their deliberate intent. I feel confident that we’re going to see some – I feel confident that there’s a great chance that they’ll be able to help us this Sunday. But you know, crystal balls break, so who knows.”

(In Major League Baseball, there is always talk about how relevant or significant the win-loss record for a starting pitcher is because of external factors like run support. I’m interested in writing about the relevance of win-loss record as it relates to the quarterback.) – “I don’t know which one is more relevant or less, but it’s very similar because pitchers hold the ball for half the inning. Every time that your team is not holding a bat, you determine what’s the next move with everyone. And like circumstances, quarterbacks, I don’t think people quite give how difficult of a job a starting quarterback in the National Football League is or just quarterback in general. And why I say that is because you are touching the ball every play, even when you’re not throwing it. The cohesion of your offense runs through you because your footwork in the run game has to be right, your cadence has to be right. And then on top of that, like a starting pitcher, compounding variables dictate narratives and people are human. And that can wear on someone when you’re giving your best effort and a narrative comes up. Maybe sometimes you deserve it. Or maybe sometimes three people MA’d (missed assignment) and because of that you through a pick, or whatever it is. And if you’re a good quarterback, it’s even tougher because then you have to be a leader as well. And you have to live in a world where people are blaming you and you accept the blame to lead and protect your teammates. So I think that you can lose games for your team at quarterback. You can help win them. There won’t ever be a win that you can do it in spite of a quarterback generally because you hold the ball every play and if you’re turning it over, we know the ratios of that. But quarterbacks don’t win or lose games. Starting pitchers don’t win or lose games. But when you’re playing at a high level, you can have as big of an impact as any person that relates to the Miami Dolphins – a player, coach, anybody. By nature you have as strong of an impact as any possible person. (You have) the biggest percentage piece of the pie because you have so much responsibility. Like the pressures of third down in a division game and a playoff game and a championship game, a Super Bowl, the pressures of facing the three- or four-hole hitter and the eighth or ninth inning. I mean these seasons are long. It’s an incredible investment about half the year where you are putting your family and everything else in your life on the side. And it all culminates. It’s not made for everybody. The percentages might be five or six percent that any team’s ever done anything worthwhile without those specific people being very, very good.”

(What are you willing to reveal about your plan for OL Austin Jackson on Sunday?) – “I don’t feel like revealing anything. (laughter) I feel like today helping the competitive advantage for the team I coach. (laughter) I respect it but it doesn’t make any sense for me to (reveal that). I get it. Just know that I’m super confident and very, very happy that we have taken our time (with Austin). He’s in a place where he can make plays as an offensive lineman. We are afforded options with his versatility. But as long as there’s no setbacks, I think you’re going to see some of his best play here soon. He’s done it the right way. He’s earned it. He’s in a good spot and I’m excited for him.”

(What are you most thankful for this year?) – “I’m most thankful for? I’m always pretty thankful for things, but right now I’m seeping with it. I do have an issue about being long-winded. I’m going to try to be as tight as possible. And also, I don’t want to get too emotional up here today. But right when you say it, ‘what are you most thankful for?’ Immediately (I go to) my wife and daughter. Especially since she’s two now. I didn’t really know that aspect of concrete support, family and fulfillment. People can’t do anything by themselves. Anything at all. And while I’m able to fully invest in people in the organization and do my job, which is incredibly important to me, I’d have no chance without my wife. This parent thing is legit. And I’m sure there’s some like ‘just wait!’ And I know. But right now she’s two and thinks I’m awesome and wants to hang out with me. Then I’m so thankful for everything good or bad, and everything in between, that happened in my life to give me the opportunity to be here. Then again, I’d probably (talk for) 45 minutes if I don’t … all aspects that I’m very, very aware of that. I can’t do my job for the team, for the players for the people in the building, for the fan base, for the organization, if you don’t have the right type of people deciding to go along the ride with you. I think it’s idiotic for people in positions such as myself to be delusional enough to think that it has, that they’re bigger than they are. It has stuff to do with you, but you are only as good as everyone that is involved in the process. It’s fulfilling of a half of season. It’s fulfilling as an offseason. I’m so fulfilled and thankful. And then on top of that, all of this happens, and I’m with a fan base that is as hungry but as appreciative as you could possibly have. I didn’t have any idea about the Dolphins fan base really having been in six NFL divisions, but this being one of two that I hadn’t been. And then the time, emotion, investment. There are scars and there are residuals for that. All I’ve seen are people that want to get excited. I’ve seen – okay, because you get vulnerable when you get excited. But to be able to do this job for this team for all these people, and then on top of that, have an informed, intelligent, passionate community, fan base, that really appreciates where you’re at, but more than that, you can see people. You’re able to – the outcome of games can affect people’s lives. It does. And it’s cool that we have a home-field environment that is outstanding. It’s just really cool to see people want and be able to be excited about something that they love. I’m a softie for that. You guys remember that’s where my roots start and I’ll never really stray from that empathetic situation. Didn’t I say I was going to be short? I feel like that was 10 minutes. But yeah, a lot to be thankful. I’m thankful for that question.”

(What are your Thanksgiving dish power rankings?) – “Mashed potatoes and gravy are solid. I’m more ham than turkey, but the best Thanksgiving meal I’ve ever had, I think it was a fried turkey. I was like, ‘what is this? Turkey that’s not dry?’ Those two. I’m not a huge eater, to be honest. Oh, corn on the cob is solid. That’s a vegetable right? So I’m eating my vegetables? As long as they’re not green or too healthy for you. (laughter)

S Jevon Holland

(How is it coming off the bye week and also right into Thanksgiving week. There’s obviously other distractions around. How do you guys stay super focused on the game?) – “It’s our job. As professionals, you got to stay on everything regardless of whatever is going on outside. The Thanksgiving meal is obviously going to be a little tough because it’s Thanksgiving. A little bit of the pounds, it makes us a little heavier. But you’ve got to lock in. We get paid to do our jobs so we’re going to go out there and do it regardless of what’s going on.”

(I know you grew up like I did with Canadian Thanksgiving. Do you maintain the traditions down here this week?) – “Nah. I have American parents so it’s really more American traditions. Besides ketchup chips, which I miss, that’s about the only thing Canadian about our Thanksgiving. (laughter)

(So what’s the plate?) – “I got cornbread. You got to have that. Sweet potatoes, got to have that. Ham, turkey, a little bit of that cranberry. My grandma’s collard greens. Candied yams, which is sweet potatoes if y’all don’t know that. Some of y’all may not know what candied yams are. Yeah, that’s about it. And a little bit of sparkling cider.”

(Do you have a favorite dessert?) – “Sweet potato pie. Absolutely.”

(The defense the last game was very impressive. Is that something to work off of? You’ve had two weeks to look at that tape. The Texans, are you salivating for them right now as much as you are for Thanksgiving dinner?) – “Yeah, I mean we’re ready for the next challenge. This is a good team coming up. They’ve got a hell of a running back. It’s going to be exciting to go from a good back to a good back, back-to-back like that.”

(The statistics weren’t there early on as much as you might have thought they would be for everybody. Do you feel like this defense is completely gelling right now?) – “Do you mean us as a defense?”

(Yeah.) – “Yeah, for sure. Things are going well. We’re going to try to continue that cycle of success, for sure.”

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