This is the time of yr that we attain a call on Dolphins rookie coach Mike McDaniel — crunch time — as Miami faces its closing stretch of essential video games with a lot at stake.
Everyone likes McDaniel. We get pleasure from his wise-cracking solutions throughout press conferences. He’s humorous. He’s refreshing. We get pleasure from his inventive offense. It’s distinctive. We applaud his revolutionary concepts corresponding to rearranging the locker room seating in order that operating backs now sit subsequent to linebackers and defensive tackles as a substitute of different operating backs, cornerbacks sit subsequent to guards as a substitute of different cornerbacks, and so forth. It’s a manner of forcing gamers out of their consolation zone and into attending to know different teammates.
Yes, McDaniel, who wore Supreme x Nike Air Force Ones within the opener vs. New England, has been completely different.
But the Dolphins don’t want completely different, they want a coach who can take them to the subsequent stage and, finally, on a path towards a Super Bowl.
The subsequent few weeks will decide whether or not McDaniel suits that mildew.
That’s true for the complete teaching workers, not simply McDaniel.
So far, McDaniel and his workers have answered the decision.
But this can be a playoffs-or-bust yr.
From the place the Dolphins are actually, there are few reputable excuses for lacking the postseason.
The Dolphins are 8-4 heading into Sunday evening’s recreation on the Los Angeles Chargers. They’re probably headed to the playoffs for the primary time since 2016.
McDaniel will get plenty of credit score for the group’s early success.
One of the most important issues that units McDaniel and his teaching workers aside from earlier Dolphins staffs is that they’ve excelled at formulating a gameplan that matches their expertise — versus having a gameplan and forcing the expertise to suit the gameplan.
It’s an enormous distinction. It’s sort of just like the distinction between listening to what somebody is saying and understanding what they’re saying.
We’ll discover out within the subsequent few weeks whether or not this evaluation of McDaniel and his workers holds.
Again, to this point, so good.
Everyone likes how McDaniel got here into the job and made constructing quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s confidence the No. 1 goal.
The rebuilt Tagovailoa is now the No. 1 vote-getter for the Pro Bowl.
Tagovailoa will get the majority of the credit score for his enchancment as a result of it’s a participant’s league, at the beginning. Tagovailoa did the work within the offseason, and he made that work translate to the common season.
But McDaniel discovered a technique to get into Tagovailoa’s head. That’s been an enormous key. McDaniel didn’t simply acknowledge Tagovailoa’s strengths, he got here up with an offense that performed to these strengths.
Yes, having broad receiver Tyreek Hill, who appears to be headed for the Hall of Fame, helps drastically. But McDaniel additionally needed to discover a technique to play to Hill’s strengths.
The whole Dolphins teaching workers has discovered methods to make issues work this yr.
You begin with the absence of cornerback Byron Jones after offseason Achilles surgical procedure. Without Jones, they couldn’t play the identical lockdown, blitzing type they employed in 2021. That left a giant gap within the protection however they discovered a technique to compensate beginning with the season opener, when security Jevon Holland secured an interception in the long run zone, with cornerback Xavien Howard in protection, that helped result in a 20-7 victory over New England.
The course of continued by way of accidents to proper sort out Austin Jackson, left sort out Terron Armstead, Tagovailoa, cornerback Nik Needham, security Brandon Jones, left guard Liam Eichenberg, and so forth.
Again, the majority of the credit score goes to the gamers who stepped in as replacements.
But additionally credit score the coaches who discovered methods to benefit from their group’s strengths.
McDaniel and his workers have heaps to determine after final week’s 33-17 loss at San Francisco, a recreation by which the protection was shredded by a rookie seventh-round quarterback, Brock Purdy, and the offense was 0 of seven on third downs, rushed for simply 33 yards, and gave up three sacks.
The coaches have been efficient at figuring such issues out so far.
Now, they’ve received to complete the job and get the Dolphins to the playoffs.