Head Coach Mike McDaniel
Q: Little Gatorade shower?
MIKE McDANIEL: Yes, ice cold. Courtesy of Christian Wilkins, so my glasses are a little splotchy, but what do you guys got? (laughter)
Q: When the game clock hits triple zero and you're walking off and it's Miami Dolphins W in your first game as head coach, what goes through your mind and what was it like celebrating with your team?
MIKE McDANIEL: It was a very, very cool moment, against my wishes. They just showered me in Gatorade and made it about me, which I know for a fact it's not. But the team celebrated together, and just being happy for the direction that we're going in. That's why you get into team sports. I can also tell it was a good excitement and celebration because it wasn't like a satisfied celebration. They were happy that we got it done. I think a lot of guys feel like the Miami Dolphins' fan base and the organization deserve to win, but there was a lot of frustration, including me, on things in the game that we really left out there. That was pretty cool. When the clock hit zero, I only have a couple of reps, so I was most concerned with finding Coach Belichick and expeditiously going over there to shake his hand and then trying to figure out really what I want to say to the guys. It's more of, okay, what's the next step in the job than anything else. It's maybe with friends and family I'll take 15 minutes to appreciate it, but that's not why I'm here, is to bask or cheer; I'm here to help lead a team of people. We've got Game 2 next week on the road against a team that's very hard to play at, so that will be our concern. Other than that, I'm very happy for the team overall because they've put in the work. It wasn't really since April, even before that, the whole organization has really worked in one direction, and you like to see that get rewarded.
Q: If you go through the fourth down call that led to the WR Jaylen Waddle touchdown?
MIKE McDANIEL: It was a cool moment for really our whole team, but the mechanics of working with the game management guys and talking through the different scenarios, we were just at the fringe of Jason's (Sanders) range. Yeah, you can push the envelope, but the flip side is you miss it, and you're a first down away from giving up points. So then it became, all right, it does kind of make sense to go ahead and go for it, have a couple of thoughts in mind. Then in communication with the offensive staff, I think it was Jon Embree kind of tipped the scales because they had a couple up. Then from that point on it's all players. So we decided to do it. Had a couple thoughts in mind. You try to prepare yourself so it's not the first time you've thought about that scenario. That does come up in the half. I had a couple of thoughts, but then once the play started, I think Cedrick (Wilson) motioned down, and we had anticipated a certain type of leverage in the man-to-man coverage, and we got it. Then we got the protection, and then Tua ripped a strike. Part of the reason that you hear so much praise from Tyreek (Hill) and (Jaylen) Waddle about Tua is because he throws that catchable ball that you can get yards after catch. Waddle, that's something that we've emphasized a ton, and you want to talk about deliberate practice coming to life in the biggest moment is catching that in-break and then having a mindset. Not being surprised that he is catching it. No, he only scores because he immediately transitioned to take it to the house. I was glad to have him back. I told you guys. I was very confident he would be back. That was a cool moment for all of us. You know, just wish we could have continued that momentum in the second half, but beggars can't be choosers.
Q: The way the defense stepped up on multiple plays, whether it's CB Xavien Howard taking it to S Jevon Holland or the strip sack from S Brandon Jones for a touchdown by LB Melvin Ingram, CB Kader Kohou late…?
MIKE McDANIEL: I told the team last night I thought it was important that you guys were introduced to the offensive players and the offense, but this is still the defense's team until proven otherwise and they valued that. That was important to them when they heard that, and they wanted to prove me right. They sure did. Defense is funny where you can have so many guys that are competitive and have high standards and then you're giving up some yards and you're driving down the field. Well, it's a classic example of the other team has to score, so don't panic and then wait for your opportunity and seize it. That was a huge momentum-turner. The pick with X's PBU (pass breakup) and then Jevon coming and making a play on that. Who knows what the game looks like without that one? Those are a ton of examples that we'll be able to learn from, but I thought it was good that the defense deserved to get some – they've put in the work. It is the stage now where they've been able to play together for a while. That means a lot to them. They have a standard that they want to employ that everybody knows when a Miami Dolphins game occurs that you're going to have to deal with this defense. You know, we're plus-three in the turnover margin, which that's probably the biggest indicator that you'll ever have. I think that's factual, actually. 87 percent or something. Anyway, you guys can check that, but that was the real story of the game, was being able to protect the ball and end the game plus-three.
Q: WR Tyreek Hill, was it the plan to get him involved that early that much and just the fact that speak broadly on the impact he had today?
MIKE McDANIEL: Tyreek made some plays. Our plan is always to get him involved. Defenses can kind of dictate the terms, so you try to – this is a difficult game plan process with him in that regard because over the years he has been doing it for so long. Coach Belichick has done a ton of presentation, so you're not really sure how many times you want Tyreek at the point of attack. There were a couple of times that he was No. 1. There were a couple of times he was No. 2, but he made a couple of plays and Tyreek is the same way. He was frustrated. There was an incompletion over the middle that he knew that Tua was throwing on time, and he knew he should have been flat already. He kind of faded away. He got mad at himself there. There was a couple during the game that he was frustrated, which is what you love about him, and that's what you need from your captains. I think each and every game we'll do our best to feature him unless the defense has to fully commit to take him away, which is good news for the Miami Dolphins because we have some other playmakers, which you guys saw today. There was a lot of plays that were made by a lot of guys, and then guys in space, and I think there were a couple of third downs that the running backs really, really kept us on the field. So all of those things, we're just trying to involve all of our players to the best of their ability. Some games they'll get a ton. Some of the games they won't, but they'll keep working and getting better, which is the point.
Q: You were talking earlier in the week about visualizing this moment and the national anthem and soaking it all in. Was it what you expected, and what about the build-up as you were coming into the stadium today and all? Was it as planned, or was there …?
MIKE McDANIEL: It's interesting with this role. You may call BS on this or not, whatever. I've talked about it at length before. You're so dependent upon so many people to do so many things. You're almost removed because you are in charge of so many people, you're delegating, but you are also — you're not hands-on with a lot of stuff, so you are so dependent. And as a result, I never felt isolated in the least in this moment, so in probably the last, I don't know, decade of football, it was probably the most relaxed and comfortable that I've been for a game. That's the honest truth. It's because from the scope, you are – yes, you are making play-calling decisions and a lot of your planning, you have to pay the piper. It's black and white win or loss, but it's not about that. It's about doing right by all the people in the building, by the players, facilitating them coming together, and then we go out and have fun doing what we do. Because if you work the right way, you shouldn't feel stressed or nervous. To be honest, it was what I was kind of starting to piece together in the preseason that – maybe this is right, wrong, or indifferent, we'll see if each game how it plays out – but I felt very comfortable, and there wasn't really any nervous energy or anything like that, which was cool that I felt like the players were that way, too.
Q: First NFL win as a head coach against Bill Belichick. Your thoughts on just that statement alone, and what do you think about when you hear that?
MIKE McDANIEL: Man, I wish all you had to do is win one game because that would be cool. (laughter) That's not the case, so I'm kind of thinking about Week 2. Again, time for reflection will come on my own time, not other people's. Right now people don't need me to sit and think about my win/loss record. They need me to do my job, and that's what I'm focused on.
QB Tua Tagovailoa
Can you talk about the confidence that Head Coach Mike McDaniel shows in this offense specifically to go for it on fourth down?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I think he has a lot of confidence in us. You look at the way the game went. You know we got started a little slow, and then there were peaks where we were driving the ball down the field and we just couldn't finish. There were also times where we had communication errors within our headset, and we couldn't fully get the play communicated to the guys as well. So it was kind of on the fly things, like, 'Hey, we don't have a play. Let's go to this play, or let's just go to this play.' All those things are things that we can clean up. I think Mike has the utmost confidence in us from things that we've shown in practice, from things that we've done throughout training camp and also when we've had joint practices.
So you embrace when it's fourth down, and you guys — you embrace something like that?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I love it, yeah. He has the utmost confidence in the entire offense. That's why.
The play before half, just take us through the logistics of going for it on fourth down and then the play itself.
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I'm not too sure what the logistics are going for it on fourth down where we were on the field, but what I do know is (Head Coach) Mike (McDaniel) had confidence in us that when we did call that play, we were going to make it work. So we did make it work, and Jaylen (Waddle) ended up scoring for us. That was nice.
Head Coach Mike McDaniel said he didn't want to make it about himself, but getting his first game as a head coach out of the way and getting the Gatorade bath celebration, just what was that like for the team and your thoughts on that?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I thought that was awesome. It was awesome to see the team come together under (Head Coach) Mike McDaniel. That's his first win as a head coach for the Miami Dolphins, so it's something special. And he has always said that he wanted to come here and create something special. It's just the beginning.
You guys did a lot of great things. Can you give us some breakdowns of the sack? You were sacked and had to throw the ball away at times. What do you take coming out of this?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: What I take coming out of this is what can we learn from this? We'll go back, watch the film and then we'll reassess and get back to work on Wednesday.
The team is honoring the anniversary for the 19772 team, and the quarterbacks was the group that was honored today. I want to know, have you had any chance to speak with Bob Griese? What have your conversations with him been like?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I've never had the opportunity to speak with Bob Griese. The only person I've really been around has been Dan (Marino). I've had many conversations with Dan.
Head Coach Mike McDaniel said this is still the defense's team until proven otherwise. What do you think when you hear that?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: You've seen what the defense was able to do for us. I would say they were the momentum changers for us with the interceptions and the turnovers that they had. Offensively, we just didn't capitalize, but I think the overall picture with as much as we wanted to do offensively and as much as we didn't get to do successfully offensively, we still came out with a win. So I think that's a big positive for us.
There's so much talk about WR Tyreek Hill and what he means to this offense. What was it like in Game 1 having that option and obviously the connection you have with him?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I would say it's a continuation of growing for the timing of me and Tyreek (Hill) continuing to learn what he likes, what he doesn't like. It's a continuation still with Jaylen (Waddle) and with all the other guys within our receiving corps.
Your first drive you had third-and-1, you throw a deep pass and then you are suggesting you were going to go for it on fourth-and-1, but the play didn't get run because they jumped offsides. Is this a changed mindset from say your first couple of years of aggressiveness going forward on fourth-and-short?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: Well, I never thought that we would go for it, but (Head Coach) Mike (McDaniel) told me, 'Stay in there; we're going to go for it.' We had calls that we wanted to call, and I wasn't sure when we were going to call them. So with it being on the first drive, it was a little surprise, but really nothing should surprise me with Mike.
You were going to run the play?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: Yes, we were going to run a play.
Can you walk us through the touchdown pass to WR Jaylen Waddle? Did you have any flashes back to your days with him at University of Alabama?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: They were playing a one-high coverage. (Jaylen) Waddle ran his route and got open. I just gave him the ball, and he did the rest. I would say it was hard in the moment to have any sort of flashbacks of our time at Alabama. It was just awesome to see what he did with the ball after he caught it.
What did it feel like having WR Tyreek Hill for a whole game and being able to consistently go to him?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: It feels awesome. It feels awesome having someone like Tyreek (Hill). I'll keep saying this, the dude is a cheat code. It's not easy covering this guy when he's motioning, running routes off of motions and doing his thing. I love it.
Would you like to be able to get to the running game a little bit earlier in the game and maybe set up play-action? Was that more of a plan today than you ended up doing?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: Our gameplan was to score points and as much points as we could. For us offensively, (Head Coach) Mike (McDaniel) says that our offense is not aggressive – that's just the style that we play, whereas other people think it's aggressive. For us whatever call Mike decides to choose for us to run, that's what we're going to run, whether it's trying to set up a play-action pass or not. We'd like to do a little better in the run game, but I think that's what the first week is for. We got all the jitters out. Everyone got their first real live action of a game and had all four quarters. Like I always say, we'll go back into the film room, we'll talk about it. We'll go through it, get everything corrected and we'll come back Wednesday.
You're 4-0 against the Patriots. Not a lot of quarterbacks can say that in the past two decades. What's it like against New England, and is there a heightened awareness when you have to go facing Bill Belichick?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: That's not an individual accolade, and I don't even look at it closely to being that. It's a team sport, and this team has won four games straight against New England. However way you see, however way you put it, that's what it is.
WR Tyreek Hill
(How fun was it to get Head Coach Mike McDaniel a win in the first one? Does that mean anything to you?) –"Yeah, it means a lot, man. I don't know if you guys know the history of Coach Mike (McDaniel). He is a team coach and has been through a lot in his life, so this means a lot, not only for me, but for this whole team. It means a lot. A lot of guys take pride in what they do around here and they really look up to Mike (McDaniel) as a role model, and so far he's done a great job teaching us how to be pros, leading us in the right direction and creating moments for us to be a closer team. So far so good."
(What were your thought's on WR Jaylen Waddle's touchdown right at the end of the second half?)–"That boy looked fast, man. It was a great job by Jaylen (Waddle), Tua (Tagovailoa) put the ball in a perfect spot and Jaylen (Waddle) did a great job of catching the ball and really just splitting three defenders, I believe. We talk about that all the time in our meeting rooms as a wideout. If you want to be good, just get the catch, but the great ones, they get drunk off the YAC (yards after catch). (laughter)He obviously did that and made a big play in a big moment for the team, and it carried over to the next half."
(That catch you jumped the ladder for, what were you thinking when you came down with that one?) –"I used to be a big man in middle school. (laughter)A lot of people don't believe that because I'm 5'9-5'10ish. A lot of people don't believe I was a big man. My main thing is, that's my ball, I've got to go get it. I'm going to make sure I protect that. That's my whole mindset."
WR Jaylen Waddle
(When you got the play-call for that fourth-and-eight play, what was going through your mind?) –"Nothing really goes through your mind, you try to read the coverage. I just try to be prepared when my number is called and try to make the play. It was a great ball and the o-line held up, I tried to catch it and do something with it."
(What does it say about your Head Coach Mike McDaniel to roll the dice like that?) –"He's just got confidence in us. We had a good offseason, a good camp, so he's got confidence in us. We have confidence in him. Every decision that he makes, we are just going to try and go out there and do it."
(Does it excite you that your Coach (Mike McDaniel) wants to go for it on fourth-and-eight and try to get a huge lead at half?) –"I trust Mike (McDaniel) to know what he's doing, I trust him play calling, all that good stuff. Great head coach, great first win."
S Brandon Jones
(What is that like? What is the realization when you know, "damn, nobody is gonna touch me on my way to this quarterback"?) –"I know my eyes are probably huge. It was a great feeling. I think I celebrated a little early though, I didn't realize the ball was right beside me. That's what (Emmanuel) Ogbah said – 'you didn't pick the ball up.' (laughter) It was a good play."
(Last year, no other defensive back put more pressure on the quarterback than you did. No one rushed more often as you did, but how important was showing up your game, your pass rushing, over the course of the offseason?") – "Yeah that was huge. Obviously I'm really big on just trying to grow every aspect of my game but for sure man. Coverage has been something I have been working on. I work on everything before practice. It's a huge emphasis. Not just that, but just anything. When it comes to blitzing, to making those hunting drops, playing the middle of the field safety. I'm always looking for ways to grow my game and continue to better myself as a player."
LB Melvin Ingram
(It looked like you just snatched that ball out of the air [for the touchdown]. Was it just seamless? You just saw it in front of you? Tell us about the play.) –"See ball, get ball. When I'm out there, see ball, get ball, baby – that's all it is. Just trying to make a play though. All jokes aside, I'm just trying to make a play. That's the idea, I'm here to try to make plays to help this ball club win."
(What's it like playing with this defense? I'm sure you've seen it from afar before, but to see how the defensive backs can get into the backfield and do that to a quarterback?) –"It's amazing. That's special when you have 'DBs' and linebackers and all that play like that, it'll make your job easy. It's all 11 guys out there getting to that ball, and it's something special here."
(Is the gameplan you saw from New England so of what you were expecting? Week 1 is always such a question mark.) –"Yeah, it was what we expected. We stayed in the film room, and coaches do a great job preparing us. So it was everything we expected."