Miami Dolphins Transcripts – September 14 – Head Coach Mike McDaniel, QB Tua Tagovailoa, RB Chase Edmonds and S Jevon Holland

S Jevon Holland

(Is it possible to totally prepare at practice for a guy like QB Lamar Jackson?) – “No, it’s not. It’s difficult. He’s a very dynamic player – one of a kind. You try to replicate it as much as possible, but game speed and practice speed are completely different.”

(You guys held the Pats to just seven points last week. Do you feel like that’s something you take pride in, keeping a team to single digits like that?) – “Absolutely. As a defender, you don’t want the offense to score. So when they do score points, you feel like you can grow on that. That’s what we did. We went into the film room, checked out what we need to improve on and we’re going to come back this week a better team.”

(Head Coach Mike McDaniel said after the game the other day that he told the whole team before the season that this is still the defense’s team until proven otherwise. How did that make you guys feel hearing something like that?) – “It feels good. It is what it is to me. That’s cool but we’re the Dolphins. Everybody wears the same colors, everybody has the same logos whether it’s defense, offense. If the defense is lacking, the offense is going to pick us up. If the offense is lacking, the defense is going to pick it up.”

(Can you talk a little bit about the Cover Zero blitz that you guys played on QB Lamar Jackson last year and it worked really well. They’re probably going to expect it this year, the challenge of trying to shut him down like you did last year.) – “Yeah, they probably are.”

(How did you have success against QB Lamar Jackson last year? You had an interception, a touchdown, a 73 QB rating.) – “Just executing our techniques. That’s really what it is. Our coach put in a good scheme, we went out there and did our job, and that’s what it was.”

(Are you expecting a little revenge from QB Lamar Jackson for last year?) – “He’s going to do what he’s going to do. He’s his own man. I’m not looking to expect him to do anything other than to go out there and perform like we are.”

(They have a pretty good tight end. Do you see yourself matching up against TE Mark Andrews?) – “If it’s in the gameplan, definitely. But yeah, he’s a hell of a player.”

(When you’re on the field, what’s unicorn-ish or unique about QB Lamar Jackson that’s different than any other game that you guys are doing your thing in?) – “He’s got elite speed and quickness. His ability to get out of tight situations – he’s very slippery. He’s got a cannon with great touch. It’s difficult to try to keep him in the box, but also he can throw it deep.”

(The offense always talks about crowd noise being a factor, but for you guys it’s quiet when you’re on defense on the road. How does that change what you guys do? Do you need extra juice? How do you handle it?) – “We’re going to have the same juice whether it’s loud or if no one is in there. We bring our own energy and that’s all we need. We don’t need anybody else. It’s going to be what it is.”

(What impresses you the most about playing next to S Brandon Jones?) – “His game speed is crazy. He’s like an energy bunny. He’ll just be flying around 100 miles an hour and he’s a great tackler. He always brings the juice. That’s big.”

(Did you guys have a sense early on that you two together might be a pretty special combination?) – “Yeah, back in OTAs last year when I first got here, we were practicing together a lot and I was like ‘ok, yeah we could definitely work together.’ Then we started to grow chemistry.”

(What’s the difference between QB Lamar Jackson compared to other quarterbacks when you’re talking about gap discipline? It looks like he’s the kind of guy if you give him one inch he is gone.) – “Like I said, he’s very electric and he is real slippery. If you give him any space, he’s like water. He’s going to slip right through there. That’s the most frustrating part. Quarterbacks extending plays with their feet is always frustrating for secondaries because you’ve got to plaster and receivers can go anywhere. He’s definitely dynamic in that aspect.”

QB Tua Tagovailoa

(Not a Dolphins football question. You’re going to be in Maryland this week. Will you get a chance to check out your brother play?) – “I’m not too sure. I know they play a night game. I don’t know what time we arrive there, so we’ll see. I’ll have to ask Mike (McDaniel) about that and then kind of see if that interrupts meetings or whatnot.”

(Getting to review your Week 1 win, what were your takeaways and how are you feeling?) – “I would say there’s a lot of things that we wish we had back in the game. Obviously, the first play, we wish we had back. There’s other plays that we wish we had back, too, but it was great to look at them and learn from and then move on to this week against the Ravens.”

(How much – I know you played them last year, the Ravens, but they have a new defensive coordinator – early viewing the film, how much is different?) – “I would say he has his own style of defense with the guys that he has out there. And it accommodates all the guys that are out there and their talents. I don’t know how he’s going to match up their guys with our guys this week, but I’m sure he has a good blend.”

(What excites you about going into a hostile road environment against a very good football team?) – “I mean, opportunity. The opportunity for us as a team to show what kind of team we have. This is our first road game against a really good team, and we have a chance to go out there and do something special. Now it’s going to be a first of crowd noise while we’re on offense and having to deal with communicating out there, so we’ll see how we want to go about that.”

(What do you think of the possibility that you could be without two starting tackles? You also had to have some shuffling o-linemen in Week 1.) – “Yeah, I think that that was kind of awesome. Not that our guys got hurt, but it was awesome that guys stepped up and when their numbers were called, they stepped right in and it didn’t seem as if we kind of missed a step. So I know that Austin (Jackson) is day-to-day and I know that Terron (Armstead) is also doing his best to get back out there with us.”

(There were a couple plays late in the game against the Patriots where you started to go down and then it looked like you were trying to throw the ball away at the last second. How do you balance whether to eat it or throw the ball away, trying to save a sack?) – “Yeah, I would say it’s hard as a quarterback. You’re wanting to make plays. But at the same time, you don’t want to want to lose the field position that you have, knowing you’re in field goal range. So I would say just on my part, I’ve just got to be smarter in those instances. Sometimes it’s not bad taking a sack as opposed to turning it over.”

(Speaking of being under pressure, what was your feeling during the game, just with your decision-making? And when you look at the tape, I know you’re getting better and better at that. We’re seeing it and I’m sure you’re feeling it, but just what are your observations? And what is your feeling after Game 1?) – “Yeah, there’s a lot of things that we need to clean up offensively. There was some miscommunication with plays and then there were also some other things that that were happening that we weren’t able to get plays in on time from my perspective, to tell guys where to go, where to line up and what to do. And so that’s just something that we’ve got to clean up this week and we’ll go out and try to execute a lot better.”

(It was your first time out with both WR Jaylen Waddle and WR Tyreek Hill at wide receiver. What did you think? You were able to obviously to get the ball to Tyreek quite a bit and with Waddle you connected on a touchdown. So what did it tell you about the future working with those two guys?) – “There’s still a lot of work to be done. I couldn’t tell you what the future is going to be like. I couldn’t foresee the future and tell you, ‘hey, we’re going to throw this many touchdowns to this guy or this many touchdowns to that guy.’ All I can tell you is those are two really, really good players. They’re really fast and they make plays for our team. So we’re going to continue to use those guys in our game plans and we’ll see where we go from there.”

(Head Coach Mike McDaniel said the game plan initially was to get TE Mike Gesicki more involved in the offense. What ultimately happened to not allow it to work out?) – “I would say a lot of plays breaking down and having to move to find other guys. So yeah, I mean, it’s just playing football.”

(You had mentioned the summer you keep a pretty tight circle as far as people you let into that circle. I was just curious if there was maybe a moment or just in general some things that Coach McDaniel kind of did to get himself into that circle with you.) – “I mean, first would be the Luau. On the first occasion that I can remember him showing interest and that’s where I would say our relationship has grown and built from there. And then a lot of conversations with him in his office. And not just him calling me up there, but me going up there by myself just to talk to him.”

(Just to piggyback from there, how would you compare your relationship with Head Coach Mike McDaniel maybe to other coaches you’ve had in your life?) – “Yeah, Mike (McDaniel) – I don’t know. It’s different because Mike is different. Mike’s not your stereotypical head coach, if you will. He’s not a screamer. He’s not a yeller. If you mess up on a play, you’re not the worst player in the world. ‘Why did you mess up on that play? How can we help you fix that?’ I would say very reasonable teacher and very reasonable coach.”

(We were joking that we got kind of lucky during training camp because we never got rained on, but was this maybe your guys’ first practice in the rain too today? What was that like and obviously I know that’s something you wanted to work on, too, this offseason.) – “Yeah, this was our first practice in the rain, and it started raining pretty good throughout practice, but I thought it was good. We worked on some wet ball drills, being able to throw it in the rain and I thought it was pretty good for us.”

(Was it fun?) – “Yeah, I mean, it’s fun when it’s not hot and you don’t have to drink as much water. (laughter)

(If I can ask, I’ve never played quarterback before. How different, like what do you have to think about when you’re throwing in those conditions versus otherwise?) – “The ball gets slippery. That’s it. But yeah, I would say other than that, that’s the only thing. You’ve just got to make sure you secure the ball when the ball is snapped as well.”

(One more, I guess, last year, when you guys played the Ravens, that kind of sparked a nice little win streak for you guys. Do you think that this team is going to come back and maybe have something to prove against you guys?) – “Yeah, I would say every team is looking to prove themselves this season, not just the Ravens against us, but every team. For us, we’re looking at it as an opportunity and we’re hoping to go out there and get their best and know that they’re going to get our best.”

(You had a couple of passes that kind of skipped to their targets last game. Was it more mechanically or hesitancy that kind of led to it?) – “Yeah, I would say it was the timing of the play. Some plays, I was a little fast within my footwork and some plays, I was a little slower and having to speed up. So that’s what I would say about that. It’s just the timing of the plays.”

(What does practice actually do for a Sunday? Like, what can you get better at these two days that can actually help you Sunday?) – “Yeah, I mean you want the way you practice to translate to how you play in the game. And so that’s why we work a lot on timing. We work a lot on where guys need to be and for me, if I – for instance, if we have a slant, and we have an over the ball player, and another player in the alley and a flat, for me, I can’t see because I’m not the biggest guy out there. So if I can’t see you, you can’t see me and I can’t get you the ball. And spacing with the guys. So if you can’t see me, get somewhere to where you can see me, then I can see you, then I can hit you. And then even within our walkthroughs, that’s kind of what I use practice for.”

RB Chase Edmonds

(What excites you about going on the road and having an opportunity against a team like the Ravens?) – “I always feel like going in a hostile environment like Baltimore is always a little more exciting. There’s just something about not really hearing the snap count, the fans talking a little bit of smack to you. (It’s) a little more hostile environment, so you always have to be on your P’s and Q’s. It’s something that I look forward to. You just have to be back on your A-game, and everything is a little more of a challenge.”

(How do you think the offense ran in Week 1? What adjustments, if any, will you make this week?) – “I’ll say it wasn’t up to our standard. There were a lot of things that we could clean up in the run game, even some things that we could clean up in the pass game. I think it’s one thing about just really honing in on the details, everybody knowing their assignments, making sure that we’re locked in on our communication. I think it was a lot of small things like that where if guys were on the same page, whether it was who the Mike point is or kind of who we’re working towards in the run game, I think we’ll be able to clean it up.”

(What was practice like out there in the rain today?) – “Coming from the desert, I’m not used to practicing in the rain. So that was my first time really practicing in a full monsoon type of thing. It was cool though. It actually – I always feel like rain practices can be a little sloppy, it wasn’t as sloppy as (I thought). We had guys keeping their feet, catching the ball, so it was good for us to get practice into it.”

(Did you have fun?) – “No. (laughter) Nah, I did. I did.”

(What did you think of getting involved in the passing game and sort of that chemistry already with QB Tua Tagovailoa?) – “That’s something that I feel like is kind of my niche. I feel like I can separate myself around other running backs in the NFL, just with my ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. So just continuing to work with Tua (Tagovailoa), continuing to work in the scheme (and) finding ways that (Head Coach Mike) McDaniel can be creative and get me out in the backfield with mismatches. It’s something that’s going to be a long process – it’s a 17-(game) season. So again, just finding something that I can hone-in on my game and get better at every single week is my goal.”

(What are some of the things that you’ve seen from the Ravens defense that they do well?) – “They cause turnovers, especially in the secondary. Marlon Humphrey is probably the best person right now getting the ball out in the secondary in the NFL. They have playmakers everywhere. They have a lot of speed. (Odafe) Oweh coming off the edge, he loves to get – sack monster. I like Patrick Queen a lot, too, No. 6, the linebacker. He gets to the ball fast and he plays downhill. So we just have to be on our Q’s man. Baltimore is one of those organizations that they’re always going to be good. (Head Coach John) Harbaugh is always going to have them ready to play. Obviously, they have a spectacular quarterback in Lamar (Jackson). So we’re up to the challenge this weekend to find a way to get a win.”

(Just as a competitor, how much are you looking forward to just going on the road and being in that type of environment?) – “As a competitor, I love it. Coming from the NFC West, our division games, and obviously this isn’t a divisional game, but just always having to be on your toes playing against tremendous talent is something I look forward to. I like playing against tough opponents. I like being in the bright lights. It’s something that again, we just have to keep it in the locker room and find ways to get better and get a win.”

Head Coach Mike McDaniel

(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.”