“Mike is not the stereotypical head coach,” quarterback Tua said. tagovailoa. “He’s not a screamer. He is not a screamer. If you make a mistake on a play, you are not the worst player in the world. Why did you make a mistake on that move? How can we help you fix that?’”
McDaniel showed his optimism during an early conversation with Tagovailoa, when the first-year coach promised to bring out “greatness” from the young Dolphins quarterback.
The season before, the Dolphins were trying to trade for then-Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson and had talks that the NFL later deemed “inadmissible” to bring Tom Brady to Miami. They were coming off a rollercoaster 2021 season in which they lost seven games in a row and then won seven in a row.
Now, McDaniel is making good on his first words, and he and Tagovailoa are feeding each other. Tagovailoa has bought McDaniel’s system and is having his best season as a pro.
As a result, the Dolphins will emerge from their bye week 7-3, leading the AFC East and with a legitimate shot at making a deep playoff run. Miami has wins over New England, Baltimore and Buffalo as it prepares for a four-of-six-game skid against teams above .500.
Tagovailoa leads the NFL in passer rating (118.4) and has thrown for 2,265 yards and 18 TDs with three interceptions. Miami is 7-0 in games Tagovailoa has completed, he has the third-best passing offense and is first in yards per pass attempt (8.28).
Tagovailoa’s accuracy on deep balls also improved. He went from completing 42.3% of passes that carried at least 10 passing yards in his first two seasons to completing 68.7% of those passes in 2022, according to Next Gen Stats.
Throwing the ball to Tyreek Hill, the NFL receiving yards leader, obviously helps. But just as important, Tagovailoa has more support and encouragement than he has since he was drafted from Alabama in 2020.
“I felt supported from the moment Mike came along,” Tagovailoa said earlier this month, a day after Miami traded its lone 2023 first-round pick to acquire pass-rusher Bradley Chubb from Denver, a sign of his confidence. on your bookmark. .
Since returning from a concussion in Week 7, Tagovailoa has 1,230 passing yards, 10 TDs and no interceptions.
McDaniel is among the favorites for Coach of the Year, and the Dolphins have the eighth-best odds of winning the Super Bowl.
“He’s a man of the people,” Tagovailoa said of McDaniel after Miami’s 39-17 win over Cleveland. “He has no ego, he has no ego towards what he thinks is right or wrong. But then again, he is ‘our team’ is what he will tell you. I think the fact that he is himself is really what helps us to be able to be ourselves as well. We don’t have to be someone we’re not.”
McDaniel said Tagovailoa’s ball placement and efficiency have made it easy to be aggressive in his plays, adding that Tagovailoa sees the field well and puts pressure on defenses with his ability to move through his progressions.
But what has made McDaniel most proud is Tagovailoa’s increased confidence, something he wanted his quarterback to work on earlier this season.
“He’s really gotten into his own skin as far as being a leader at the quarterback position,” McDaniel said. “The boys are gathering around him. He is holding himself to a standard and holding himself to a tremendously high standard.”
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McDaniel is the key to everything good at the Miami Dolphins