It was business as usual in the Miami Dolphins locker room Wednesday. Some players played ping pong, others played cards, while another group of players discussed the 60-20-10 triple-double by Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic. They seemed happy and upbeat.
Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel couldn’t pull off the same trick.
Having quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in concussion protocol for the second time this season seems to be taking a serious toll on him.
The normally entertaining, jocular, dry-witted McDaniel was as somber as he’s been all season during Wednesday’s media session.
The most telling example came when McDaniel was asked, “You and Tua Tagovailoa are very close off the field. For you as a person, as a friend, as a coach to him, what’s it like just seeing him have to go through this?”
McDaniel paused for about three seconds before giving a one-word answer.
Then there was silence.
A few seconds later, McDaniel said, “Yeah.”
Another five seconds of silence passed before the next question.
Yes, the situation is dire on many fronts for the Miami Dolphins (8-7), who need to win at least one of their final two regular-season games to get to the playoffs.
Players, despite their attempt to maintain normalcy, are also having trouble processing Tagovailoa’s concussion, his second concussion this season (Cincinnati was the first) and third head trauma incident (Buffalo was the first).
“I would definitely say the concussion thing was quite a shock to everybody,” cornerback Keion Crossen said.
Tagovailoa being taken off the field on a stretcher in the Cincinnati game was quite a shock, too.
“I have not been a part of any team that a guy got taken off on a stretcher that I can recall,” Crossen said. “But it’s not a good look. And you know when you do see one of your teammates taken off on the stretcher it kind of kills morale. I think any player will tell you that on every team, you see one of your teammates taken off on a stretcher, it’s like a morale killer.
“Even if you’ve got momentum in the game because at that moment you’re not thinking about football any more. At that moment you’re thinking about family, I need to get back to my family, because all of us have people that depend on us week in and week out, not only for football, but just livelihood and lifestyle. Priorities.”
Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, one of Tagovailoa’s closest friends on the team, summed up Tagovailoa’s concussion situation succinctly.
“Sadly,” he said, “it’s part of our game.”
Guard Liam Eichenberg summed up McDaniel’s situation succinctly.
“He cares about us,” Eichenberg said. “He really does care about us. And I think that’s different compared to other places.”
Players say McDaniel, despite his reserved demeanor with the media Wednesday, has been the same with them this week as he’s been all season.
“I think that’s very important when times are tough,” rookie quarterback Skylar Thompson said. “We’re like right on the edge of winning some games, and when we lose, they hurt. Everybody here wants to win. And we want that really bad.
“But it’s really important during times like that to stay true to who you are, don’t feel like you’ve got to reinvent the wheel, change everything up. Trust the process, trust who you are, and the work that you put in. I think coach McDaniel has been a prime example of that.”
Still, the normally wry McDaniel seems to be taking Tagovailoa’s latest concussion hard, perhaps even harder than his players. Even through the three-game losing streak early in the season, McDaniel joked. At times early in this current four-game losing streak, McDaniel joked.
McDaniel, a king of the one-liners, didn’t make a single joke, quip or wisecrack Wednesday. It was the first time that’s happened in a long time, and one of the few times all season he didn’t have jokes.
He was all business whether it was discussing Tagovailoa or the next opponent, New England (7-8).
As McDaniel has said throughout the season, adversity is an opportunity. It’s his job to get his team, and himself, focused and in the right place mentally for the biggest game of the year.
“Everything that we’ve set out to do is right in front of us,” McDaniel said. “And I can tell you one thing, the New England Patriots don’t care about our feelings. They’re very aware about that. I see a very focused and determined group that recognizes the opportunity within the adversity.”
Soruce : https://www.mercurynews.com/2022/12/28/chris-perkins-dolphins-coach-mike-mcdaniel-pretty-emotional-about-tuas-latest-concussion/