Sometimes a team can lose because they have a ball bounce the wrong way. Sometimes players don't execute the game plan properly. For the Miami Dolphins, their upset loss to the Titans can be pinned on Mike McDaniel.
A lot went wrong on Monday night. A lot. The defense folded in the final 4 minutes. The offense struggled with basic protections. Jake Bailey made fans wonder why Grier let Thomas Morstead go and Tua Tagovailoa looked like a rookie QB lost in his first game.
Then there is Mike McDaniel. Mike McDaniel very well could be a great NFL head coach but last night, he showed Miami fans that he isn't there yet. Last night, in the face of adversity, McDaniel folded just as quickly as his defense did on the Titans' final two drives.
It is easy to like and root for Mike McDaniel. He is, well, likable but he also has a problem that he has to overcome. Mike McDaniel does dumb things and sometimes those things break down a game plan.
McDaniel has two big issues. One, he relies too much on the quick read. Is that problem because of the QB he has or is his offense solely reliant on that 2 second snap and throw? McDaniel's other problem is he can't commit to the running game. Last night, the Dolphins win if McDaniel simply ran the ball.
This isn't the first time McDaniel has watched his team lose because he doesn't stick with what works. Last night was just the worst example.
Miami ran the ball almost at will on the Titans in the first half. While they were not putting points on the board, they were wearing down the Titans front and without Tyreek Hill, the Titans still couldn't stop Miami's rushing attack. That 100-plus stat line on the ground in the first half disappeared in the 2nd.
McDaniel had opportunities to put points on the board. He opted for low-percentage passes inside the five-yard line and settled for field goals. Had he run the ball, maybe those are seven points instead. In the 2nd half, Miami had two opportunities late in the game inside the 5. McDaniel opted to run the ball and the Dolphins scored two TDs.
The biggest issue seems to be McDaniel being reliant too much on a 1-2 read in his passing game. Is that because Tua doesn't have time to make the throws after those two reads? I don't know the answer to that but I do know that if Miami's passing game isn't dominating, the Dolphins head coach doesn't have a secondary plan to put into action.
On Monday night, losing Tyreek Hill should have been a shift to forcing the Titans' defense to move into a run defense. That would have given Miami's receivers more one-on-one coverage but the Titans didn't change because McDaniel didn't give them a reason to.
Finally, in the final minutes of the game, Tyreek Hill wasn't on the field. Why? Even if he were hurt, he would still need to be covered. Instead, the Dolphins allowed the Titans to double up on Waddle and press the other WRs knowing they would throw off the timing. Hill would have drawn coverage and perhaps allowed Miami to effectively move the ball with him as a decoy.
Mike McDaniel is heralded as some offensive genius but on Monday night, he got schooled. It happened against the Eagles, the Bills, and the Chiefs. He has to do better.