Grading Mike McDaniel’s Rookie Season

There is no question that Miami’s head coach is somewhat different. You need only listen to a press conference and realize he is eccentric, and you can also tell that everybody loves this guy, Owner, GM, players, and the press. He rode into Miami praising Tua Tagovailoa and promising him that he would get the best out of him and delivered! 

The first 3 games of the 2022 season were electric as they beat The Patriots, The Ravens, and the Bills in what many thought was a tough outing for the Dolphins heading into the first quarter of the season. That comeback vs the Ravens was amazing!!!! 

Then an injury to Tua vs the Bengals in week 4, an injury that some link back to the Buffalo game a few days earlier where what appeared to be a concussion was labeled a back injury and when they played the Bengals just 4 days later, it was no doubt that Tua suffered a concussion on national TV in the Thursday night game vs the Bengals. 

Tua later suffered symptoms of a concussion vs the Packers on Christmas day shortly after the game and was shut down the rest of the season by the Dolphins. Miami went 1-4 in games Tua missed and sufferd a realy bad streatch when they went to the east coast and was soundly beaten by the 49ers and Charges and then had to go to Buffalo in the cold but played admariably but still lost and then lost at home to the Packers and then to the Patriots in New england for a 5 game slide!

What seemed like a team headed for a deep run into the playoffs early in the season, turned out to just back into the playoffs and a quick exit in a good battle against Buffalo up in Buffalo. 

Mike McDaniel preached throughout the season about adversity and boy did they have their adversity. 

Still, it was a successful first season for rookie head coach McDaniel and looking closely at things there were some good and bad in his first season and of course the bad was more to do with him being a first-time head coach. 

I will break down the good and the bad and give a final grade to our young head coach. 

Mike McDaniel had this to say about his rookie season: 

“I’ll definitely need some time to reflect on it, for sure,” McDaniel said during his postgame press conference. “This was — you talk about working your whole life in one direction for a singular goal, this place feels right. I feel very fortunate. I feel very bound and determined to always improve. I think there’s always good and there’s always bad. I think the second that you start thinking that you’re problem-less or that you’ve figured it out is when stuff passes by. 

“I know one thing — without question, I know I did the very best that I could for all the people involved, which is extremely important to me. … I know there will be plenty of things that I’ll get better at which is the way I look at the expectation for myself and my job. That will never change; that will be the same thing every year, but my primary concern is that I do everything possible to try to put people in positions for success, because that’s what this role can offer.” 

The Good: 

The first thing that pops up is the play of Tua Tagovailoa as he had a pro-bowl like season that was derailed by injuries, but he proved he belongs in the league, and he has franchise QB potential. 

Tyreek Hill & Jaylen Waddle breakout season, this dynamic duo had 194 receptions, 3066 receiving yards, and 17 TDs combined. Both over 1000 yards receiving! Both top 10 WR’s last season. 

With Miami’s potent offense, there is no doubt that Mike McDaniel proved he is an offensive GURU a term that has been thrown around a lot, but he actually lived up to the hype (See Fake Guru Adam Gase) Miami had one of the most exciting offense in the NFL last year, they ranked as high as 2nd in the league just under the Chiefs, had it not been marred by Tua’s concussion issues they could have seated higher in the playoffs and might have even gained a home game to start the playoffs. And I have no doubt that they would have beaten Buffalo in the playoffs if Tua was starting. 

The Bad: 

Mike McDaniel had what should have been expected to be some rookie mistakes, from time management, time outs, challenges to name a few but the one thing I was most disappointed with was him abandoning the run game way too early and often in games. Especially when you consider he was the run game coordinator for the 49ers! 

Both of Miami’s primary RB’s averaged over 4 yards per carry (Both Raheem Mostert & Jeff Wilson averaged 4.9 YPC last season) and neither had over 1000 yards rushing. (Both just over 800 yards rushing) Raheem is just as much a weapon as Hill and Waddle with his speed and the ability to take it to the house on any play run or pass! They should incorporate more screens and passes to our RB’s and provide a more balanced R/P option! Wilson is a big back at 6′-0 that could add a few pounds to become that true power RB we need in short yardage situations along with our Full Backs. 

Even though our Offensive line improved last year they still are not to the standard we need to both protect Tua and run block for our RB’s. After the 5th year in a row Miami will once again have a new O-line coach. How can these young linemen develop when there is no continuity at the very position, they are looking for help to improve? 

Defense Regressed 

Mike McDaniel said he was happy to be on the side of a defense that he had witnessed the previous season when Brian Flores and Josh Boyer oversaw our defense, I bought into Josh Boyer being retained. But Miami’s defense ranked in the bottom half of the league all season, some of that had to do with injuries as the secondary was decimated. There still were too many poor coverages and missed assignments throughout the season to justify firing Boyer and proved hope with new DC Vick Fangio who was rumored to be McDaniel’s first choice in the first place. 

Overall, the dynamic offense that McDaniel produced last year was like the glory days of Marino Dupper & Clayton and I cannot wait for McDaniel’s season two. 

I give Mike McDaniel a solid B with his arrow pointing up! 

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