HEAD COACH MIKE MCDANIEL
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, January 1, 2023
Q: What are your thoughts on today? How disappointed are you going into the final week of the season?
MM: Definitely didn't expect this. This is pretty frustrating. Got a lot of guys laying it on the line, and you want to get the results you feel like the team deserves and should get, and you come up short. That's kind of the nature of football when you make critical mistakes with points scored off turnovers and some – I think we had a collection of penalties that really cost us, so those types of things will leave you with the type of result we were trying to avoid. We still have games to play. We have one in particular against the New York Jets that we have to respond to, and that's what I'll be focused on getting the team channeled towards because you go through tough stretches in seasons, you go through tough stretches in games, and we have to learn how to get ourselves out of that at some point in time.
Q: Can you tell us what happened with Teddy Bridgewater? Did he get hurt when throwing the ball or when trying to make the tackle and do you have any idea of the severity of the injury?
MM: I don't know the severity. I believe it was on making the tackle on the pick-six, but that's something that we'll find out more in the coming days.
Q: After the start you had, how do you get your head around a five-game losing streak, and what do you tell your guys?
MM: Well, you try to identify – the biggest challenge is that people have to deal with losing for over a month now, and trying to channel all of the desire, the want, the let-down into a productive direction, so you have to critically assess each and every game and say, is it one thing, is it a bunch of things, or what can you correct.
You know, it is definitely disappointing from my perspective, for the team, for the fan base, for everyone really involved, and you have to do something with it. You have to understand how we got to this position and how we make sure that we don't return to a scenario where we can't stop the bleeding, so to speak. I think guys have had opportunities to play. There's been people that have made some tremendous plays and done very well with their opportunities on the field. There's some guys that I think will feel in hindsight looking back on it that they could have done more. It doesn't matter at this point. It's all about responding. It's tough for anybody to really put themselves out there and accept these types of defeats in consecutive order. But we play a tough game, and absolutely nobody will feel sorry for us, as they shouldn't. We have to figure it out as a group collectively how to finish the season the way we started, in the win column and not in the loss column.
Q: Personally how do you gather your thoughts after a game like this?
MM: Oh, it's tough for me. Typically I go into the game believing in the people that I work with, believing in the players in the locker room, and this one was absolutely no different. My expectation is to prepare us to win, and so when we don't, it's definitely not fun. In this particular situation, I felt less sad and more angry just at how certain things transpired because I want desperately for everyone involved to get what I feel like they deserve, and when that's short, I struggle not to start with myself. I think that will always be the case. But I think we'll see on the tape that there's a lot of people that could have done X, Y or Z that much better to win a two-point loss. We knew going into the game that we had to win the turnover battle, and that did not happen in all three phases because it's not only not turning it over but it's getting the ball back and creating turnovers, where we were unable to do that, which we knew in this type of game was going to be critical. We've got to find different ways to get that message put forth and applied on the field, which is kind of coaching 101.
Q: Were Xavien Howard, Terron Armstead or Bradley Chubb close to playing, any of those three?
MM: Yeah, they all were working out pregame, and those three, all three weren't really – between themselves and the medical staff, knew it wasn't the best for the Dolphins to put them out there.
Q: Every team has injuries, but when you're down to the third quarterback, third or fourth left tackle, at one point all five projected starters in the secondary unavailable, my question would be is this sort of the most depth – is this the biggest challenge to roster depth that you've been a part of?
MM: I'm sure it's up there. I don't really look at it in that way just because I trust the players that we have in the locker room, and we've won plenty of games with guys rising to the occasion and stepping in for starters that weren't available. I'm sure that it would be up there. It feels in the moment like we are having to adjust the lineups more frequently than I can remember. Whether that's the case, who knows. I know one thing; there's not anybody in the locker room that is asterisking this loss because they know deep down that we were plenty capable of getting the job done, and we didn't.
Q: The offense has been really successful throwing the ball. Obviously Tua didn't play today and you notably ran the ball a lot, specifically on first down, even with the Patriots' injuries in the secondary. What led to that shift in philosophy?
MM: That was kind of going into the week, you play certain defenses, and the Patriots, I think, more than anything, have scored a lot of points on defense, and so trying to minimize the amount of time you put yourselves in situations where it plays to a defense's strength. It's something that I think is important in terms of how you approach a specific defense. That was the case this season. Last time we played Buffalo, we kind of knew it was going to be a similar set of circumstances, that we were going to have to really make sure that we attacked the line of scrimmage and didn't play to one of their strengths, which is late sacks and turnovers, and we were able to do that with solid success at times. Made some plays on third down, so kept giving us some opportunities. But ultimately, it only takes one, which our guys know, and it's hard to beat that team when they're able to score on offense and defense.
Q: What did you learn about yourself during this five-game stretch?
MM: You learn a lot. I know that from the whole spectrum really, football nuances, how I really want to approach the team. These things are not standard set in stone for me. I try to always think critically of why I do whatever I do. I also do know that there's a certain degree of problem solving that I enjoy about this profession and this job in particular, and I also know that it does give me confidence in a weird way because I'm motivated by trying to dig people out of tough spots, and I know it's not something that I – you never know how these types of things are going to feel. You're not excited about putting yourself in a position to, okay, what's it going to feel to lose five straight. But being involved in it – I know that this is kind of my niche in the world for me – to help get a group of guys out of this is totally my speed and something that's very important to me, and I'm definitely up for the challenge.
Q: When you were told that Xavien Howard, Terron Armstead and Bradley Chubb weren't going to play, was that sort of a process? Did they come to you all at once –
MM: It depends on the individual week. This one in particular, the workout was timed about the same time because we had juggling of actives that were consequential, depending upon if they were able to go or not, and this one in particular. A lot of times it's the head trainer that comes and speaks with me. This time it was pretty ominous because it was the GM that came and told me that we were 0 for 3 with it. Those guys obviously would help any team, their contribution, but it wasn't – their inactivation was not the reason we lost this game. I think we had all the ability to do so, and we didn't.
Q: You talked about problem solving; can you think back to your time in your career that you've had a situation like that that you've pulled out of it? What was that situation like?
MM: There's a countless number of them. The first one that comes to mind is in 2012, 3-6 with Robert Griffin III's rookie season, and then we were able to pull it together and make the playoffs. We played Seattle. Then all the way back to just last season, I think we were behind the eight-ball, and there was some talk about next season, all the way – I think we were about 3-5. Then really the two times that I've been to the Super Bowl, at the end of the season there was a loss that you thought was grave because it put you out of whatever scenario you thought was best for your team. Just regardless, there isn't a season that goes by that you don't have late-season turmoil. Typically it doesn't manifest itself in a five-game losing streak, but every year it's different. But I do know one thing, that you end up finishing the season winning or beating the adversity or overcoming the adversity in one way, shape or form, or you succumb to it. That's pretty cut and dried. There's only one team that ends up the season happy. The rest of them are lumped in a wish-I-coulda-woulda. None of that matters for this particular team. It's a one-game season to really take all the lessons learned from this five-game losing streak and putting together something that the locker room and coaching staff is proud of as the regular season comes to a close. I'll definitely channel some of those experiences, but I fully expect a hungry and well-intentioned team ready to go play the Jets next week for the regular season finale.
QUARTERBACK SKYLAR THOMPSON
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, January 1, 2023
Q: What was it like for you today?
ST: Yeah, well, I feel like it's kind of déjà-vu of the conversation we had at the beginning of the year. It's never a situation that you want to have happen to get into the game. It's tough to see Tua [Tagovailoa] go down with an injury last week and Teddy [Bridgewater] experience one this week because those guys mean a lot to me. But I've got to be ready when my number is called. It's frustrating because I want to win, and I think – I know everybody in this organization and in that locker room wants to win, and it's frustrating. It's frustrating whenever you just can't get over the hump in some situations. There's plays that I left out there that I wish I could have back, but one thing that I will always hang my hat on, every time I step in between the lines I'm going to give it everything I've got. I'm going to fight my butt off to win. I'm going to keep grinding. I'm going to stick with what I've been doing and just trust the process, and that's what this team has to do, and I know it's frustrating, it's hard, but we've just got to have a short memory from this and come back and be ready to finish the season off next week at home.
Q: What's your mindset going into next week?
ST: I mean, the same mindset that I've had this whole year. It's obviously the situation for me has changed from week to week throughout the whole year, depending on the situation, but if it is me, I'm just going to approach it the way that I've approached it this whole season, and fortunate for me, I got a preparation versus the Minnesota Vikings as a starter. If that is the case, then I'm going to know what that's going to look like. I'm going to be able to even better prepare myself even more for what that week of preparation is going to look like for me. It's still too early to say what that's going to look like. But speaking for our whole team, like I said, we have to have a short memory, and we've just got to – our backs are against the wall, and there's a lot of guys in that locker room, that's where we're at our best. Talking to the guys and hearing the guys' stories of what they've faced in life, what they've gotten through to get to this point, what's their why for playing this game, we have those guys in the locker room. This is when you're tested the most, when your backs are against the wall. This is when you've got to be at your best. That starts with me, that starts with everybody looking themselves in the mirror and putting their pride aside and being able to focus on doing their job, doing my job, and we do that, we play for each other, you fight your butt off for the guy next to you, good things happen. That's what we've just got to focus on doing.
Q: Did you have a chance to warm up?
ST: I got like two throws. It was quick. But it's part of the job. It's part of the game. It's here nor there, it's part of it. But I did feel like obviously I wish I could have that pick back. It was very frustrating. Hurts. But I did feel like I settled in a little bit there late in the game and was seeing things clearly and distributing the football. Obviously it wasn't perfect, but there's obviously a lot of things that I'm going to be probably frustrated at watching. But a lot of – some good things to take away from it, as well.
Q: What did you see on that interception?
ST: Just missed the throw. Was trying to anticipate Tyreek [Hill] on an out cut and missed it inside. One hundred percent my fault and just missed. Those are the worst ones because they're in your control, in my control. But I'm going to own it, and I'm going to come back to work tomorrow and be ready to go. Just got to have a short-term memory playing this position, and that's something that I've got to do.
Q: With Teddy Bridgewater, it seems like every chance he gets unfortunately some sort of injury happens. Do you know how he took it and was he fighting to get back in the game?
ST: Yeah, I don't know the details of what happened. Obviously whatever happened prevented him from coming back in the game. But talking about Teddy, man, I appreciate that guy a lot. Everything that – he's helped me a ton since I've gotten here, and I don't even know if he's realized it, but he's helped me a ton in all aspects, as a football player and in life, just perspective of what it takes to be a pro. I wanted him to go out there and do his thing today and come out with a win. It hurts. It hurts to see both times he's gotten an opportunity this year, unfortunate things have happened to take him out of the game. One thing I do know is Teddy is going to bounce back, whatever that is, and he's going to continue to be Teddy Bridgewater, and I'm very, very grateful for him and hope everything is okay with that.
Q: They were down three of their top corners today; were you trying to take advantage of that?
ST: Yeah, we were definitely aware of that. It's still fresh on my mind, kind of what took place there. Just my initial feelings coming off the field, it felt like they were there at the end, were playing a lot of two high shell soft and forcing me to force underneath, and I've got to go back and watch the film to see if there was some intermediate stuff that I possibly missed or whatever the case may be, but that's what it felt like on the field is they were trying to keep everything underneath there, and that could be a reasoning for them having some depth issues there at corner and playing umbrella type coverage and making us drive the football. But yeah, we were aware of that.
Q: What did you take away from Coach's postgame comments?
ST: Yeah, you know, like I said, everybody in the locker room wants to win, and it hurts when you lose. Just kind of what you guys were saying earlier; our backs are against the wall here. We've got to go win next week to get ourselves in the dance. That's been our goal this whole year is to get to the playoffs. It's come down to a situation where we have one game at home versus a divisional opponent and have a chance to do that. We've just got to continue to fight and continue to get better and have a short-term memory. I feel like sometimes just human nature. When you are struggling, when you can't get over the hump, it feels like you've got a monkey on your back a little bit, and that's just something that we have to continue to work through, keep fighting through and get over the hump. That starts with me, and I take a lot of responsibility for this one. I'm going to think about that interception quite a bit today. It hurts because when I get an opportunity, I want to help this team win and to do everything I can to do that, and that's what this week comes down to is just keep fighting.
Q: You guys were 8-3, now lost five in a row. What have you noticed inside the team that's happened?
ST: Well, I think our – I know our mindset hasn't changed. I feel like our preparation throughout the week is good, and guys are locked in. Like I thought this past week was one of our best weeks of practices that we've had. Guys bringing energy and staying positive and doing those things. I think it just comes down to, like I was saying, just having that fight, that dog in you. You've got to step up and make a play in times like this and trust the guys around you, trust the coaches, trust everybody that we're all in this together and that we're going to make a play. Don't look to your right, don't look to your left, looking for somebody else to make the play, we've got to have that responsibility of, 'I'm going to do my job, I'm going to do this.' When we do that, good things will happen. It's a process. It's a process to work through. It's tough when you lose five straight, and I have all the confidence in the world that this locker room is going to do that because we've got the right guys in there and led by great coaches, too.
Tyreek Hill, WR
(On his reaction to the team losing five games in a row)
"It sucks man. I can't explain the feeling. As a competitor you want to win all these games, especially games like this. I know I've been saying that we're going to find a way to bounce back but at this point I'm going to put my faith in God, because right now, we are in a mud puddle. Our leaders are going to continue doing what they're doing which is encouraging the younger players and rallying this team. We are going to be good because we control our own destiny."
(On what happened on the interception where the ball bounced off his hands)
"I'm going to take that. They pay me a lot of money to make those plays so I just have to make those plays."
(On how confident the team was with Teddy Bridgewater)
"Very confident. The team was overly confident. The first half we were moving the ball up and down the field doing whatever we wanted to. We obviously had certain possessions where flags and miscommunications kind of screwed us again, but that all starts with a belief. We have a young team, a lot of guys are still trying to figure out who they are, but we'll get there."
(On how it's been the last five games for the team)
"Everybody has been good. We've been practicing fast, we've been practicing deliberate. The quarterbacks are slinging the ball around. It's the NFL for a reason, you're going against professional athletes on the other side of the ball. Our best players have to be better than their best players."
Jaelan Phillips, LB
(On the mindset now that they need to win and get some help to make the playoffs)
"Yeah, we just need to focus on next week. Win or go home."
(On how they bounce back from losing five straight)
"We just have to refocus. It's in the past now so there is nothing we can do about it except move on to next week and prepare for the Jets the best that we can."
(On what happened in the second half of the game)
"I really don't have much to say. I think that we all have to look ourselves in the mirror. It doesn't accomplish anything to point fingers or try to figure out whose fault it was. The reality is that it was all our fault. We have to be accountable and look in the mirror."
(On what the Patriots did differently this game from the first game of the season)
"I think they just did a good job of playing solid football. At the end of the day, they had more points than we did and that's all they needed. I don't think they did anything differently other than just played sound football."
Jeff Wilson Jr., RB
(On the disappointment of losing a close game)
"Especially when you have goals and you know you have talent, it's very disappointing. Like I said it seems like we are singing the same tune every week but regardless of what happens, we can't hurt ourselves at this time of the season."
(On the change in the running game)
"It's a situational game so regardless of the plan, you have things that happen unexpectedly, that you weren't expecting. I mean you have to alter the game plan in order to keep the pace and keep the flow on how the game is going. It's kind of what happened I believe, and we have to be able to roll with the punches and get back up."
(On the momentum change in the game)
"No doubt. It felt like the game at the beginning stages we were playing complementary football. Defense was feeding off of the offense, and offense was feeding off of the defense and special teams was feeding off both, and visa-versa so I felt we were playing a complete and we just had some mental errors that you can't have."
(On losing five in row and having to win next week)
"That is just the bottom line and we will block out all of the outside. The media will come in and all the people that talk will come in and try and bash the team and rip the heart out, but this is the time we really just need to stay together, and focus, and keep fighting. I don't think anyone is going to give up so I feel like we are going to come out and do what we are going to do and stare down everything in front of us."
Connor Williams, OL
(On the loss)
"I think you take the good of what you can and obviously learn from the bad. But just continue to believe in each other and fall on each other, and lean on each other."
(On the running game)
"I think we were moving it well, we got behind it. Things get behind and you just can't lean on the running anymore, got to make chunk plays. That's just the nature of how the game goes. We need to do better on our part of making four-yard runs go into eight-yard runs, just to help the offense more and the team more."
(On moving on to next week)
"We just got to hunker in, come out with everything we got and have our best game."
Jevon Holland, S
(On moving on to the next game)
"Yeah we got to win. That's all it is, we just got to win the game. There's nothing more to it, we just got to win."
(On the season)
"It is what it is. That's basically my mindset. You've got to win, that's all it comes down to. Whatever you got to do, however you got to prepare. You've got to win."
(On the injuries to the secondary)
"It's been tough, but we're professionals, and it's kind of like the next man up. You've just got to do your job and you've got to fight with who you got to go to war with. So that's basically the mentality."
(On any problems with communication on the last Patriots touchdown)
"Stuff happens in the game pretty fast, and you've got to make adjustments. On that play it got the best of us. We needed to make adjustments and we couldn't. We'll go to the film and watch it to see what happened and we'll be better from it."
(On if the Patriots showed something that wasn't on film in the last few weeks)
"There was nothing out of the ordinary. They played their game. They just executed when we had mishaps. We just have to be able to execute and go into the week and understand what our job is. Then come out here on the field and play the game, play the down for what it is and execute. They just capitalized on what we messed up at."