Miami Dolphins: Mike McDaniel is his own biggest challenge of 2023
By Brian Miller
The Miami Dolphins enter their second season with wildly popular Mike McDaniel at the helm but it is McDaniel himself who is the biggest challenge.
In his first season with the Dolphins, McDaniel’s offense exploded. Tyreek Hill looked to be a clear favorite to hit 2,000 yards. Tua Tagovailoa was on pace to be a runaway MVP candidate. Everything was clicking for the Dolphins.
We all know what went wrong and regardless of whether you are pro-Tua or not, the reality was Miami was not the same team when Tua Tagovailoa was not in the game.
Later in the season, Tua came back from one of his head injuries and was naturally sluggish but defenses were starting to figure out some of what McDaniel was doing. Opposing coaches had figured out how to take away the middle of the field, Tua’s favorite spot. They figured out how to reduce the impact of Hill and Jaylen Waddle.
For the most part, McDaniel was able to do enough with Skylar Thompson but his failure to control the game with his running backs is still hard to rationalize.
This year, McDaniel has to continue being innovative. He has to continue pushing his offense forward and make defenses try and change on the fly. Consider how well Miami played at Buffalo in the playoffs despite not having Tua at quarterback.
As Dolphins fans we have to assume that the defense will be better if for no other reason than Vic Fangio will bring more experience to the coaching staff than Miami has had in over a decade. With the defense hopefully on point, the questions will fall or hopefully will, fall on the offensive side of the ball.
McDaniel can’t fall into the complacency trap. He has an opportunity to be the best head coach since Don Shula or at the very least challenge Dave Wannstedt for the second-best coach in Dolphins history…win/loss-wise. Wannstedt only won 41 games.
Miami fans have been through this before with an offensive “genius” type HC. In 2016 Adam Gase was that genius and after a 10-6 first season and playoff birth, Gase “Failed Forward Fast” (Thanks Cam Cameron for that classic).
We can all look and honestly say that Mike McDaniel is everything that Adam Gase wasn’t. His personality alone is completely the opposite. For McDaniel though, his challenge will remain to push himself toward finding new ways to get his playmakers involved and keeping the defenses guessing.
McDaniel has a treasure trove of talent on offense. Hill, Waddle, Mostert, Wilson, Berrios, and maybe we see a top draft prospect join the unit as well. There are only so many balls to go around but what McDaniel needs to do is utilize what the defense gives him and then make them pay for it.
If the defense takes away his passing game, run it down their throats until they adjust, and then burn them again with Hill and Waddle.
2023 will be a fun season to watch and if we see McDaniel’s growth as a head coach, it will be that much better. Miami may be heading to the playoffs and McDaniel says getting there once was great but they want to win. McDaniel just might be the reason they do.