Mike McDaniel was introduced to the media on Thursday as the Miami Dolphins new head coach. He was likable, nerdy, and quirky.
His voice was genuine and shaky at the same time. His nerves were on display as much as his attempts at being funny. He chided the reporters about “Welcome to Miami” and challenged one reporter to “finish the verse”. He declined.
It was clear that McDaniel was genuinely excited to get started coaching. It was clear that he was ready to start working with his players. When he spoke about them and the challenges that he would face, you could see that his passion is true.
The problem was McDaniel is not ready for the microphone. It’s not his forte. He wasn’t comfortable but tried to be and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. He tended to ramble at times, repeat himself, and at times came across with a not so subtle attempts to sound hip. He is young and he is one of the new breeds of coaches. Young hipsters and that isn’t a bad thing.
Mike McDaniel for the entire press conference came across one thing undeniably. He was honest. In his own quirky way, he wasn’t trying to convince you he knew everything and he didn’t try to convince you that they were going to the Super Bowl. He simply said that was the goal as it is with every other team. “It’s what you play for”.
We won’t know what McDaniel can do as a head coach. Time will tell but when he speaks about team effort and building a schematic system around the strengths of players, you perked up and listened closer. That is where his passion lies. It is where he will be relatable with his players.
McDaniel didn’t go into much about Tua Tagovailoa despite that being one of his first questions. He didn’t make a bold proclamation that Tua was his quarterback or that he has the tools to be great. McDaniel said that it his job to find the staff to make Tua better and that it is Tua’s responsibility to come in ready to work and to work hard.
It is what he expects from all of the players that are coming into the building. Will Mike McDaniel be the next great head coach? Will he be the head coach that ends the 20 years playoff win drought? To that question, he answered, “Why not? What does the last 20 years have to do with this year, it’s irrelevant” citing that is what they are there for. He wasn’t concerned with the past but acknowledged that when they do win that playoff game, it will be rewarding.
McDaniel is genuine. He is that guy you can talk to at a bar who will chat your head off all night while buying your drinks. He is the next door neighbor that hangs at the fence to talk about hedges and lawn trimming. He just does it in a football facility. He is likable and clunky and in a way, it is far more refreshing than the straight business face of Brian Flores or the “I know more than you” Adam Gase, or the quiet monotone of Joe Philbin. McDaniel is different. In a good way. But it doesn’t matter how nice he is, or how nice he appears to be, if he can’t win, he will be gone just as quick as the first time head coaches that have preceded him.