Let me just say that I never met Mike McDaniel. I have no idea what he does for fun or if he’s a huge jerk to people when the cameras are not on him. Based on my research, which is going through clips and articles that anyone else can, I’ve found nothing that paints the picture of a guy who has a hard time working with others.
Brian Flores was brilliant with coming up with defenses, though not great at always unleashing said defense. But a picture that could be hung up in the Louvre is one of a guy that rubs people the wrong way with his black and white no grey area approach. I really have no problem with that approach when it works. Do your job, do it properly, and if you don’t I’ll get rid of you. Basic, straight to the point, and one style that happens every day in the business world.
The problem with that is two-fold. One, if you’re not winning that style becomes very tiresome and insufferable to listen to. Two, it’s 2022, and regardless if you like it or not players are a hair more sensitive than it was when Shula was coaching. Call it soft or whatever you want, but players have no problem telling you to shove it if you continually tell them how bad they are especially when things aren’t going well.
Based on everything I’ve read, Mike McDaniel has a great deal of self-awareness(my personal #1 underrated quality in judging a person), knows how to read the room, and seems like an easy hang.
How does that translate to hiring a staff? Well to me it means that other coaches won’t go into working with him knowing that it’s going to be tough going to work. That isn’t to say that things aren’t going to get intense or that it’s going to be a hippy jam festival or anything like that. But it’s certainly nice going to work somewhere where every day isn’t how Peter Gibbons went to work in Office Space.
I think young, creative coaches will want to get on a McDaniel-led staff. I’m all for veterans as well but take a look at some the best teams in the league. Look at the Packers, Rams, 49ers, and Chargers. There are even teams like the Bills and Eagles who have their teams in the playoffs and they’re only in their mid-40s. My point is, young guys can win in this league and more often than not the young guys have more innovative ideas. Can that lead to trying to out-thinking the game which hurts your team? It sure can. Look at the Brandon Stayley with those Chargers. But a balance of innovation and creativity with some old-school flair, like power football which McDaniel brings I feel can work well.
I’ll give you some cons on Mike McDaniel. Credit to me for mentioning my concerns about him. His approach to press conferences could eventually be a detriment. I like my coaches to say nothing at press conferences. Though that’s boring, I like that better than saying dumb stuff. Here are some Mike McDaniel sound bytes.
When you grow up and Dan Soder is your friend, you get a sense of humor like this. A sense of humor is good, but what happens if the team loses four or three in a row? You can’t be funny making observational humor like your Seinfeld in those moments. I would like to think Mike McDaniel is aware of that.
That leads to the whole leader of men phrase that folks like to throw out there. Again, what happens if the team is on a losing streak? How does personality get the most out of them? We lost seven in a row and say what you will about Flores but he got them to stay focused and come to work with a purpose. I simply don’t know how McDaniel would do that without the players just saying yes sir to him only for them to roll their eyes when he leaves the room. That remains to be seen.
Just don’t get wrapped up in the idea that you have to be a big brute of a man to reach the players. Bill Belichick isn’t imposing and I think he does alright. Also, Mike McDaniel did play college football. He was a receiver at Yale so he did play the game. He didn’t do it in the SEC or BIG 10 or anything like that but neither did Belichick and many others.
There’s also the fact that McDaniel has never called his own plays. Even this year, Kyle Shannanhan still calls the plays. The last time Miami tried that they brought in Joe Philbin. That didn’t work out.
So ultimately, I’m at the point where I would actually like Mike McDaniel as the coach of the Dolphins. My first choice is still Harbaugh but McDaniel is becoming a close second for me. I think McDaniel can build a solid staff of eager, sharp minds while also being able to make tough choices. His ground game offense is one that the Dolphins haven’t really had that works with any quarterback.
Hopefully, the Dolphins make the right decision. I’m pretty sure that’s the oxiest oxymoron of all time.
Bonus Reason- I’d like the opportunity to call Mike McDaniel Mike McD. I’ve referenced Mike McD from Rounders a few times and I’d like to do the same for our head coach. You can’t lose what you don’t put in the middle. This is a concept Mike McDaniel or Mike McD as he will like to be called can embrace.