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Mike McDaniel
Miami Dolphins

Was Mike McDaniel Right Choice To Be Dolphins’ HC?

  • Justin Melo
  • February 7, 2022
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The Miami Dolphins have made their decision. On Sunday, the Dolphins confirmed the appointment of former 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel as their next head coach. McDaniel will succeed Brian Flores, who was relieved of his duties following his failure to catapult the Dolphins to the postseason. Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore was also considered a strong candidate, but McDaniel reportedly blew away Miami's decision-makers throughout the interview process en route to capturing the job. McDaniel’s appointment represents an extremely bold and outside-the-box hire by general manager Chris Grier, who is making his second head coaching hire following Flores' departure. Grier and McDaniel never crossed paths in previous stops, which indicates Grier conducted a fair and thorough search and simply believed McDaniel best presented himself throughout the interview process. A young up-and-comer, McDaniel represents a stark change in leadership and direction from Flores' more direct and stern approach. The offensive-minded McDaniel now takes over a Dolphins roster that centers around the development of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins have already publicly committed to Tagovailoa as their quarterback for 2022, and McDaniel will be tasked with maximizing Tagovailoa's skill set. McDaniel will be expected to achieve what the defensive-minded Flores often couldn't—get the most out of Tagovailoa and his surrounding talents. Flores routinely struggled with the direction of his offense (he employed four offensive coordinators in three years) throughout his tenure in Miami. Those issues will disappear under McDaniel, who has a clear vision for the offense in mind. Priority No. 1 for McDaniel may focus on fixing a broken Dolphins rushing attack that consistently failed to establish itself as a productive and efficient unit under Flores. The Dolphins employed several rather pedestrian running backs in 2021 en route to averaging just 92.2 rushing yards per contest. Only the Atlanta Falcons and pitiful Houston Texans ran the ball at a less effective rate in 2021. That's where McDaniel enters the picture. McDaniel, who never played football at any level, began embarking on his coaching journey as an intern with the 2005 Broncos, who were coached by noted run game guru, the legendary Mike Shanahan. The 38-year-old Yale graduate then began working toward what would prove to be a long and fruitful journey alongside 49ers head coach and offensive genius Kyle Shanahan back in 2006 as members of the Texans' staff. McDaniel later followed Shanahan to Washington (2011-13) and Atlanta (2015-16) before becoming Shanahan's run game coordinator (2017-20) and offensive coordinator (2021) in San Francisco. Shanahan's popular zone running scheme has proven to be extremely effective throughout the years, and McDaniel has long been one of his most trusted confidants. McDaniel will now attempt to establish and install the same scheme with the Dolphins. McDaniel lasted just one season as San Francisco's offensive coordinator and is now ready to spread his wings and lead a franchise of his own. McDaniel certainly possesses an intriguing resume that's heavily focused on X's and O's and winning the mental battle as an excellent schemer. His coaching philosophies and ideas have especially blossomed in recent years, as the 49ers have reached one Super Bowl and two NFC Championship games over the past three seasons despite receiving below-average quarterback play. Owner Stephen Ross and general manager Grier are trusting McDaniel to usher in a new and exciting era of Dolphins football. Appointing the relatively inexperienced McDaniel qualifies as a sizable risk. If the team can successfully build a roster capable of executing McDaniel's offensive vision, the Dolphins will possess an excellent chance to compete for a playoff spot in a new-look AFC East. If Tagovailoa fails to develop and Grier lacks the ability to build a roster with the talent necessary to run McDaniel's system, then this hire could go south in a hurry.