Dolphins Postgame Quotes (Week 12)

Head Coach Mike McDaniel

On Jaelen Phillips injury…

It’s his Achilles. Doesn’t look great, but we’ll find out more tomorrow. So, I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but not fired up about it.

On the emotions he felt about Phillips getting carted off…

It was emotional. I think that’s one of the special things about this particular team, is there’s a lot of shared journeys. Everybody sees what he puts in on a daily basis and everybody knows how bad he wants to take steps in his game and be absolutely great in this League, which he has and we’ve been very proud of him the whole season. It’s very, very tough in the short term from my vantage point, and just my experience with people if it’s the worst case scenario, but you get the chance to write your own story, so he’s the type of person and he has the right mindset where he’ll be able to turn anything that’s perceived as negative into an eventual positive, but this is going to be tough and trying for him as we get our information back and prepare ourselves for the worst case scenario.

On what Jevon Holland’s pick six did for the Dolphins momentum…

I talked to the team a bunch about this. I think too often we’re vulnerable in terms of, we have a lot of individuals putting more into everything than they’ve ever had before, and they’ve been playing football their whole lives. In those situations, one of my biggest concerns is that individuals put too much on themselves and not recognize the team of playmakers that we have and how we can play off of each other and pick each other up. That was absolutely a huge momentum swing that there are very few players that could have pulled off what Jevon did. I think Jevon’s the type of player that has very high aspirations of himself and our team knows he can be the best player on the field at any given moment. He’s watched a ton of Ed Reed tape and that was very reminiscent of Ed Reed for sure, so that was a cool moment that nobody on this team that was on the field will forget that particular play and that’s pretty special when you’re talking about that it will probably be the first play people think of when you think back to this game, so it was a big time play and something that our team needed.

On Tua Tagovailoa’s two interceptions near the end of the first half…

I think that everything’s a learning situation. I think Tua’s going to say that that can’t happen. I’m going to say that I definitely wasn’t right in my play call. So, we’ve got to work together. I put a lot of trust in his hands and he’s going to protect me in that way. The second one, that’s a tough one. I think it’s more the first one that I think in hindsight we can really have back. He’ll say both, but I’m always looking for those type of scenarios to make sure that we’re in our progression as working together that he’s in the appropriate space, because things are going to happen that you’re not going to like. One of the biggest obstacles that he’s had to climb is frustration within his own game within a game, and making sure that doesn’t linger. What I did see was him bounce back, and that takes a lot of training. Especially when he’s as accountable as a player as he is. He is absolutely positively so angry with himself in those moments, but to be able to come back and be with authority and do all the things that we ask him to do, to execute a down and out basis for the rest of the game, I thought was very encouraging. I also thought that he probably had his best third-down game against a really good third-down defense. That’s a good defense in general, but on third down, it’s not easy to move the chains. I think we were 11-for-16 on third down, so there was some good stuff there, too, so it’s not all picks in my mind. There was a lot of good performances by him, and also I really liked how he bounced back from that and didn’t let that keep him from playing the position as we know he is capable of throughout most of the game.

On how he views the trajectory of the Dolphins defense…

Well, I view the trajectory as more this way, right? Which is cool. We talked as a team at length. There’s part of the unintended consequence of the sight of the ball as starting off at a historical rate. There’s a lot of attention paid to that side. I think our defense was overlooked for a while. On top of that, they didn’t start exactly the way they wanted to this season, but it’s going to build. I think since Week Eight, up until this game, we’ve been number one in the league in defense stopping the run and I think that epitomizes the whole team. What they’re doing is what we’ve identified as what we want to do and that’s progress and continue to get better as the season progresses. And then, not cower in the face of obvious parts of our game that we can get better at. You have higher belief in the entire unit at the beginning of the season that what we’re putting out there in terms of run defense. What do you do about it? You work on that and emphasize it and there’s no shortcut to the gains that they’ve made. It’s hard work and dedication each week, belief in what they’re being coached, complete ownership of responsibilities. I’ve been talking about the way our defense has practiced since the Buffalo game. I keep bringing it up. It’s very satisfying for me as a coach because I know if you just focus on that, that the gains will come. I think people are just starting to see some of the stuff that we’ve held internally, the high belief and high esteem that we have for everybody on the defensive side of the ball including the coaches. As a result, we’re starting to have a team that’s complementing each other in all three phases. You can’t just show up and say “We’re going to stop this” or “We’re going to beat this” to beat the Miami Dolphins. You have to deal with all sides of the ball. We had a ton of plays made on the defensive side of the ball today. Plays that determine the outcome of football games, whether it be turnovers or sacks or just a very, very competitive swarming defense that I’m very proud to be a part of.

On the shuffling around of the offensive line…

We were just bored. No, I mean, what more can you say? You have all these lineup changes. You have people going in and out of different positions, but you see a group that understands, that learns. Not only with the reps they get, but the reps their teammates get. All that being said, the offensive line was the backbone of the most important offensive drive of the game which was at the end of the third quarter. I think it was a two-score game, I believe. It went 17 plays, over nine minutes. And I thought that kind of changed that, on top of Jevon’s interception, those were the two big moments in the game, as far as giving us a chance to win. I think you’re starting to see why we were so happy and why it was hard to just anoint people as starters in training camp, because there was a lot of really good competition. There was a lot of talent, a lot of the stuff that we look for. As a result, you can still be productive when the lineup is changing, so hats off to them. I’m very, very proud of that group and the resolve they have. I look forward to keep progressing with them as they continue to get better at all sorts of things each and every week.

On T Terron Armstead…

I mean, I think he’s battling through. No real updates with really anybody. It’ll be an exciting time with Kyle (Johnston) and the training staff over the weekend and on Monday. Luckily, we’re very well versed at adjusting, so they’ll be some capable guys that are healthy. Who those are and exactly what that’s going to look like, we’ll find out.

On the decisions to go for it on two fourth-and-short situations on the first two drives…

The first one we had converted I think a third-and-short on a screen to Tyreek (Hill). We’d gone down all the way to the five-yard line. In those situations, we’re just kind of reading the room as it would be with regard to your team. I felt very comfortable. I was very happy with the defense’s first series. It felt like they were ready to play. Kind of had that feeling all week. So, we went to something that we’re very comfortable with, putting it in Tua and Tyreek’s hands. Against a very good player, we came up short, but (the defense) proved us right by getting a stop and getting the ball back. So, the difference for me, you go for it on fourth and a similar difference at the 20-something and you get the first down, you still have 20 yards to go before you score a touchdown. The play I called, I kind of knew it was going to be, it’s fourth down, we’re going to take a shot at the endzone to score. But if you do convert, you’re talking about first and goal at the four, so the risk-reward of failure to me are a little different in the first quarter in the grand scheme of things, from the five to the 20 whatever, which was the difference in the decision making.

QB Tua Tagovailoa

On the Hail Mary pick six…

Yeah, that was crazy. I don’t think I’ve seen something like that before to end a half. Normally the guy either goes down, takes it to the half, or he’ll return it to a certain point and then get tackled. But to see Jevon (Holland) take that, that was definitely game-changing. That was very good that we could end it with points in that sense going into the half.

On his interceptions…

Mike (McDaniels) calls the plays, we’ve got to go out there and execute them. I didn’t execute them. That’s what that was. Very, very disappointing in how I did that drive, those two drives, at the end of the half.  Just can’t do that, and put our defense in some tough situations, but our defense came through. But, needless to say, coming into the second half, I was very proud of how we were operating offensively. When we did get opportunities from the defense, we stayed in a long drive and ended that with points. Very proud of our O-line. Very proud of our run game. And very proud of this team. It’s hard to win road games, especially against a team like this, a division game. Very proud of our guys.

On the balance of being confident in the offense and being more cautious…

Yeah, I think it’s doing much more than what is asked. Trying to be a little too aggressive on certain things. You just can’t do that. With that pick six, I basically—to look at it this way—kind of kept them in the game. Our defense played phenomenal up to that point and throughout the entire game. I just can’t do that.

On if something changed in the offense during the game…

We just went back to what we said we wanted to do. We wanted to establish our run game. We wanted to get those guys moving lateral on the back end. When we had opportunities to take our shots, we tried to take our shots. But I think our O-line, our receivers, our running backs, I think they did a phenomenal job on third down understanding what needed to be done in those situations and converting.

On where he feels about his game going into the stretch run…

I feel good about my game. I’m not satisfied whatsoever about what I’m doing right now. I know I have to continue to get better with that. Throughout these late stretches of having these games, we’re going to need better ball from me. I need to do that.

On heading into the stretch run…

Yeah, the sky’s the limit for us. Whatever we want to accomplish, everything’s right there in front of us and we basically turn it on fate here in this league. So, we just have to continue stacking those wins.

On how he’s feeling physically…

I feel good. I feel as good as I think anyone playing in the league is feeling right now in Week 12, Week 11, whatever week it is. As good as everyone else is feeling, that’s how I feel.

On the cut on his arm…

I didn’t notice it happen until I came to the sideline. That’s probably due to adrenaline. But, getting to the sideline and one of the guys came up to me and said, ‘Dude, you’ve got a big gash on your arm.’ So we got Kyle (Johnston) to try to get it cleaned up and then patch it up so we could go back in (inaudible). But, it’s what comes with the game. Everyone comes out of the game with nicks and bruises.

On when the cut happened…

I think it was when I tried to run for the first down in the red area. I think it was a third down or a second down and I tried to run the dude over.

WR Jaylen Waddle

On the importance of scoring early…

I just think every time I go out there, scoring early, scoring late, you know that’s key, but we try to go out there and execute on every drive and get points.

On the lift that the defense was able to give the offense…

It means a lot, sometimes offense helps our defense, defense helps our offense. Defense is playing lights out. They haven’t allowed much the last couple of weeks, so going into today we really wanted to challenge ourselves to match their energy.

On what it means for both him and Tyreek Hill to have over 100 receiving yards…

We try to go out there and perform every week. Sauce (Gardner) and D.J. (Reed) are two of the top corners in this League, so going into the week, got to prepare. Luckily for us, we have two of the best corners that we face on a weekly, with (Jalen) Ramsey and X (Xavien Howard), so really get us prepared throughout the week to face top corners like Sauce (Gardner) and D.J. (Reed).

LB Bradley Chubb

On the injury of Jaelan Phillips in the midst of a breakout season…

Yeah could have obviously been but it’s just one of those things that at the end of the day I know is going to make him better, going to make the rest of the team, going to make everyone better. You got to go through those hardships in order to get to where you want to be, and yeah it is unfortunate, but every time he puts his head down and work, and get to get back and as fast as he possibly can, and we’ll be right there to support him the whole way. I told him whatever it is, I’m going to be there in the rehab room to make sure you do everything in order to be the best you. So I know he’s a person that wants to be great, and I’m going to make sure I’m there for him, and the whole team is on his side.

On whether the field contributed to the injury…

I don’t want to say whether it did or did not, but this is the field that gets a lot of talk about injuries and stuff, but at the end of the day we only control what we can. Hopefully this changes in the future, but as of right now I can’t say it was that or it wasn’t. It’s one of those things like I said, when somebody say something a lot, you kind of got to look into it a little bit, but at the end of the day we just got to keep pushing.

On going from being the healthiest unit the last few weeks to sustaining key injuries tonight…

Yeah it’s frustrating, you never want to see like I said, competing and going down like that. Obviously at the end of the day we got to understand that the season is going to keep going, unfortunate for (Jaelan) Phillips, but for us we got to make sure we stick together and make sure we’re flowing and doing everything, and try not to have a drop off in production.

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