Mike White, 12.28
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Brian Costello, New York Post: What was it like getting the news that you’ve been cleared, on Monday?
It was nice. It was cool. It’s a long time coming, just excited to finally be back out there.
Brian Costello, New York Post: What were the emotions kind of waiting for the clearance the last couple of weeks here?
As far as waiting the couple weeks, it was tough, but you try to stay engaged and enjoy being around your teammates. That helps keep your mind off of it. On gamedays, it’s especially hard when physically you feel like you can go out there, but I understand why the doctors couldn’t clear me. It was tough, but if you make the most out of it, you will be alright.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Did the doctors, I guess on the last one that wasn’t clear, I guess before the Jags game, did they let you know it’s close? How does it work, basically?
I got the CT scan after Buffalo, and I was pushing for them to let me get another one, and they didn’t want to put me through the radiation — yadda, yadda, all that doctor stuff, which I understand. We knew there was a chance at two weeks. I ended up obviously being good to go, so it was nice.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Did you see, there were a lot of funny memes out there about Mike White looking for a doctor. Did you see any of those?
The amount of times my buddies would send me stuff. People are funny. People are very funny.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Will you have to wear any extra protection more than normal this week?
I feel good with what I’m at. I’m sure the trainers and doctors and equipment staff are playing arts and crafts and putting something together for me, but like I told you guys a couple weeks ago, I felt as if I could play two weeks ago. I still feel the same. I feel good, and I’m sure there’ll be some extra stuff, but I’m not exactly sure what that will be.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: How does it feel having the opportunity to get this team possibly to the Playoffs?
We all have a tremendous opportunity. Listen, football is the ultimate team sport. It’s never going to fall on one person. It’s never going to fall on one side of the ball. It’s a collective effort. By no means do I think I need to go in there and do anything out of the ordinary. I need to just play my game and help get the playmakers the ball and help this team try to move the ball and win these last two.
Connor Hughes, SNY: The margin for error is really small for you guys. Is that something that you kind of look forward to? Is that something that you embrace that it is do or die?
Yeah, I think every single person in this locker room is a competitor at the highest level. When you feel as if your backs are against the wall, every competitor is going to want — you’re going to welcome that. That’s what you grow up wanting. Every kid always is in the backyard and it’s always bases loaded, 3-2 count. On a two-minute drive, you’re playing football, or you’re playing soccer, it’s penalty kicks, it’s stuff like that. It’s when the stakes are the highest. I feel like that’s similar to this situation. In football, it’s a team sport, so you never feel like you have to do it by yourself. You look to your left and your right and you got guys out there with you that our whole point is to help each other, so that makes it a little easier.
Connor Hughes, SNY: I know you played a lot of baseball growing up, were you ever in that situation? Do you have a walk-off under the belt in a clutch situation?
I do. We were like 10 years old. I won’t forget it because it was on my dad’s birthday. I was 10 years old. It wasn’t bases loaded, but it was a man on first and second, one out. We were down by one, and it was my first ever home run in a game, in an actual game. I hit it dead center. I’ll never forget, I hit it so pure that I didn’t even hear it hit the bat. It was in St. Augustine, FL on my dad’s birthday. My dad was our coach, he was the third base coach. As I’m rounding third base, I said, ‘Hey, Happy Birthday’ or something like that. My dad still has the ball. Some good memories right there.
Brian Costello, New York Post: (follow up) You can’t top that?
You can’t. You can’t top that.
Connor Hughes, SNY: (follow up) Is Sunday mom’s birthday?
No, unfortunately not. I might need to find some distant relative that it’s their birthday just to see if I can get some luck.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: When (Robert) Saleh announced it on Monday, he not only said you’re starting this week, he made it very clear that you’re the starter however long the season lasts, which was different than before which was kind of week-to-week. Did that permanent status mean anything to you?
I wouldn’t say the permanent part meant anything. Anytime you’re named the starter, you wear that badge with honor. To be able to go out and lead these guys and just to know how hard these guys work and how important it is to them, you get that chance to lead them because every quarterback is the leader. I take that with a lot of pride and seriousness and professionalism. That’s the coolest part about it for me, not so much the longevity of it, it’s just the opportunity itself.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: (Follow Up) What about beyond? It seems to be a remarkable opportunity for you going forward, long-term, perhaps establish yourself as the starter here for more than a couple of weeks. Do you see it as that?
I remember when we first talked when this whole ride started. It was week-to-week, day-to-day. I got to fall back on that. Just because it’s longer in the season, you can’t do that. You can’t do that for yourself because you won’t play well, your mind will race. I feel like I’ve said that 15 times, but I truly believe it. I’ll say it 16 or 17 more times. I think that’s the only way to play this game, especially in this League. It’s a week-to-week basis. Things change so fast. You just got to be in the moment, be in the now, and focus on that.
Brian Costello, New York Post: How do you avoid putting that extra pressure on yourself with everything that’s on the line right now?
It’s focusing on the now. If you feel like you find yourself doing that and thinking along, you got to stop yourself right there and be like, ‘Listen, we don’t even know what we’re having for dinner tomorrow.’ You can’t worry about what’s going to happen two, three weeks in advance, so enjoy the now. I think if you start worrying about that stuff, you don’t get to enjoy the now. The fun stuff that’s happening right now, you’re so worried about something that you don’t get to enjoy it.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Did you learn that from this process since you’ve been here?
Yes, 100 percent. I fell into that trap last year, the possibilities of what-if, yadda, yadda, but things kind of go out of whack. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned from it that I’ll take from it and I’ll take through the rest of my career and the rest of life, I’ll pass it down to my kids. I truly believe that’s the only way to have success.
Brian Costello, New York Post: So, you were busy on Christmas with your kids? Did you pay attention to the Dolphins? Did you pay attention to some of the results?
Yes, I did. I grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, so all my buddies are Dolphins fans, my grandfather is a huge Dolphins fan, my dad is a Dolphins fan — he was, not anymore. That’s the rare time where you get to watch football and be in all the group chats at the same time because normally we’re playing on Sunday. So, I’m just talking to all my buddies and they’re like freaking out about the game, and I try not to say too much because I didn’t want to get ahead of myself or say something and they end up coming back and then they use it against me because my buddies are ruthless in the group chat. It was cool. Everything that happened that needed to happen almost felt like a sign, a second chance almost, maybe a little extra life breathing in the locker room.
Andy Vasquez, NJ Advance Media: Obviously, you’re willing to take whatever hits come with being quarterback, but in terms of being injured and wanting to stay out there, how do you make sure that you can avoid some of the bigger hits so that you can stay out there and how much of that is on your mind heading into these last two games of the season?
Sounds like something my wife has talked to me countless times. I don’t know. I think you just kind of figure it out when you’re out there. It’s football. People get hit. It’s what we sign up for. If there’s an egregious time I’m out there that I don’t need to take this hit, I’ll probably try not to. It’s not because of the ribs, but it’s just how you play quarterback in general. I’m not going to think about it too much because that’s one thing that I pride myself on, just hanging in there and making the throws necessary because you ask a receiver to do the same, you ask tight ends to do the same, you ask running backs, linemen to do the same, so why shouldn’t a quarterback do the same.
Connor Hughes, SNY: How much from a protection standpoint — Duane (Brown) is dealing with some stuff, George (Fant) is dealing with some stuff, there’s been a lot of sacks over the last few weeks, a lot of pressures over the last few weeks. Is there anything you can do as a quarterback to combat that when things are breaking down whether it’s making a bigger emphasis on getting rid of it quick, protection, adjustments at the line? Is there anything you can do?
Yeah, I think there is. I think it’s just playing the position and playing each play as its own. Like you said, whatever the protection determines. You got to get rid of the ball quicker? Alright, we get rid of the ball quicker. If it’s, I got to get down to my check down a hitch faster and I can’t hang onto stuff, then so be it, we got to do that. The plays will be there and just letting them come to you and not trying to go force anything, I think more times than not, offenses will get in rhythms, and you get completions, d-lines not getting home and they get frustrated, you mix up run, pass, play action, keep the defense on their heels. It makes the guys upfront, their job way easier.
Brian Costello, New York Post: How much of an emphasis offensively was there this week to be better on first down and not having negative plays because it seemed like last week the offense was constantly in second-and-13, second-and-15, that kind of stuff?
Yeah, efficiency was one of the first things that was brought up in meetings on Monday when we got back, especially against this team and in general. It’s not just this team. You got to stay ahead of the sticks. I don’t care how talented your team is, if you’re constantly in second-and-long, third-and-long, it’s hard. This League is too good. Players, coaches on the other side are too good, and it’s hard to have success in those situations.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: What are your thoughts on the Seattle defense? Their rookie corner has developed quite the reputation, (Tariq) Woolen I’m talking about.
Right. He’s very long, really fast, good ball skills, and you can tell he has a good feel for what they’re trying to do. When I look at Seattle, they don’t do a whole lot compared to some of the other teams we’ve played, but what they do, they do well and they play well together. Their inside backers, what we call the hook players, play well with vision. (Quandre) Diggs has seen a lot of balls, so he’s a smart player, good player. He always seems to know when to jump stuff and when not to, little nuances that you can tell a guy who has played a lot of football you would expect them to have, he shows. Lately, they’ve been playing more together and fast and physical. Like I said, you got to stay ahead of the chains and get them in those third-and-manageable because it’s easier to convert on those.
Connor Hughes, SNY: One thing Robert said to us today is that teams have been selling out to stop the run the last couple of weeks. As a quarterback when the defense is saying, ‘We’re going to stop the run,’ do you see that as an opportunity to attack them with the pass?
Yeah, because if you can’t run the ball, there’s only one other way to move the ball. I think if we do move the ball, then they won’t get to sell out so much on the run, and that’s when the run game comes to life. Especially in this offense, everything intertwines and works together, so if one area of the offense isn’t working, the other area has got to pick it up to where that one area that is lacking can kind of get back on track.