MIAMI – When he walked into the interview room Tuesday after the team’s organized volunteer activities, Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel looked more like a high-end sportswear ad than a football coach: a gray sweatshirt and matching sweatpants with yellow Yeezy sneakers provided the only color to her outfit.
As Miami enters Phase III of offseason training, McDaniel has become popular on social media. for her fashion sense and among his players for his ability to connect with them. He was hired in February as an offensive guru, but his acumen seems to extend beyond the X’s and O’s.
“He’s a player coach,” said wide receiver River Cracraft, who played last season for the San Francisco 49ers, where McDaniel was the offensive coordinator. “He gets along with the players and acts like he’s one of us in the sense that you can talk to him. He’s never going to bother you big time or push you aside… That’s what he’s doing with everyone here and that’s why I love playing for Mike, because you know what you’re going to get from him, just honesty from him.”
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The Dolphins began their offseason training regimen in the first week of April, with McDaniel and his staff laying the groundwork for their offensive system.
Miami made it a priority to add playmakers this offseason, trading for wide receiver Tyreek Hill (a league-best 20 50+ TDs since 2016). The Dolphins also signed wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, who showed big-play ability with Dallas last season, and running backs Chase Edmonds (rushes for 54 and 40 yards in 2021) and Raheem Mostert (top speed of 22.73 mph on one play). 2020 was the fastest by a ball carrier in three seasons, according to NFL Next Gen stats.)
The Dolphins also signed offensive linemen Terron Armstead and Connor Williams as they switch to an offense expected to feature plenty of zone blocking, running plays and creativity.
Now that the team has outgrown classroom and movie study and drill work, it can start creating a foundation to build on once training camp begins in July, McDaniel said.
“Realistically, you want guys to commit to getting better and you really want to establish how you’re going to do business,” he said. “We had two volunteer mini-camps and… our second OTA, and what was important to me was that you don’t skip steps in this business. So if we want to move forward and progress as an organization and as a football team, we have to position ourselves so that when we go back to training camp, we can practice and operate at a high-caliber level that fits our goals.”
Miami missed the playoffs for the fifth straight season in 2021, finishing with a 9-8 record. Coach Brian Flores was fired the day after the season ended on January 10, with owner Stephen Ross citing communication problems as one of the deciding factors. McDaniel, who comes from an innovative coaching tree that has produced head coaches Kyle Shanahan (49ers), Sean McVay (Rams) and Matt LaFleur (Packers), was hired to fix an offense ranked 25th in the NFL. last season and to galvanize the locker room.
So far, his players have praised his work in both areas. McDaniel has kept things light but focused on practice, hosting a putting contest during conditioning drills this offseason and implementing a “practice player of the day” award, with perks including donning an orange jersey and having full control. about the music playlist for the next practice.
“He’s doing a great job of bringing us all together,” cornerback Nik Needham said. “In team meetings, he says some jokes or just funny things, he shows things in a movie… I think all of that is building the camaraderie in the team.”
Of course, camaraderie can only take a team so far without a proper system.
There won’t be any tangible evidence of the effectiveness of McDaniel’s schemes until the preseason begins, but offensive players are excited about the renewed focus.
“I mean it’s a completely different offense, as you probably realize from the San Fran movie,” second-year offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg said. “It’s just different. New coaches, new style, new scheme. [I’m] trying to get better every day, trying to learn the offense the best I can.”
Needham said: “We all feel the energy here, and it feels like a different vibe this year for sure. You never know what happens, but we just want to keep it running. I love what he’s doing here.”
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Dolphins Coach Mike McDaniel Clicks With Players, Creates ‘Different Vibe’