When the Miami Dolphins hired Mike McDaniel to be their head coach last week, it was expected that he would revamp the offensive side of the staff because his area of expertise came on the offensive side of the ball. Well, McDaniel hasn’t wasted any time in doing so. Only Eric Studsville was retained on the offensive staff from last year. Everyone wasn’t retained or got a job elsewhere.
The Dolphins offense has been anywhere from bad to mediocre for the past two decades. One reason is that the players they have brought aren’t good enough, but another reason is the lack of continuity on the coaching staff and head coach. Brian Flores did many good things as head coach of the Dolphins and had a back-to-back winning season. However, he had three different offensive coordinators, and four offensive line coaches in his three seasons as head coach. That’s not good for player development, hearing different voices and learning different schemes, etc. One of the reasons the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills have had successful offenses the last 4-to five years is because of their continuity on their offensive staff. Sure, it helps having quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen, but having the same staff and offensive playbook helps instead of learning something different every year as the Dolphins offense did under Flores. I think it contributed to the offense’s lack of success and development from the younger players. Besides winning football games, McDaniel has to put together a staff that will develop players to maximize their potential and keep them on staff for continuity. So far, he has hired people that have a good history of developing players at their positions.
His biggest and most important hire was an offensive line coach. He hired Matt Applebaum from Boston College, who will be in charge of developing and, in some cases, saving some players on the offensive line. Applebaum hasn’t coached in the NFL, but he is considered by some as the best offensive line coach in college football. How will it translate? I don’t know, but this offensive line has nowhere to go but up. Some guys on this offensive line, like Austin Jackson, Solomon Kindley, and Michael Dieter, it’s probably their last chance to prove they belong on the Dolphins and can turn around their careers. It’s a tall order, but as I said, there is nowhere to go but up for this group. Applebaum will bring in a zone-blocking scheme, which is a staple of McDaniel’s offense everywhere he has gone, and maybe it might be a scheme that gets the most out of this group. Time will tell.
McDaniel brought with him Jon Embree from the San Francisco 49ers to coach the tight ends. Embree is also considered a good teacher at the position he coaches. He developed George Kittle into one of the better all-around tight ends in the game as a blocker and a receiver. In this offensive scheme, blocking from the tight end is considered a must, so the biggest question is will Mike Gesicki fit into this offense, considering doesn’t block well. He is a free agent, and he is going to command $10 million-plus a year, and the team has to decide whether they want to pay him that considering his limitations or just use him as a glorified receiver to create mismatches? I personally think they are going to go in another direction, but I could be wrong. On the surface, it would seem Durham Smythe would be the better fit because he can inline-block and catch passes, but he’s a free agent as well. This could bode well for second-year tight end Hunter Long to get him on the field if the Dolphins don’t want to invest in either Gesicki or Smythe.
McDaniel filled the offensive coordinator position by luring running game coordinator-offensive line coach Frank Smith away from the Los Angeles Chargers. Smith has never been a coordinator and won’t call plays, but he has experience in other areas of the offense. He is known for developing offensive lines and tight ends, like Applebaum and Embree. Smith helped develop Las Vegas Raider’s tight end, Darren Waller, into a stud tight end. Then in his only season with the Chargers, Smith got credit for turning around their offensive line to help the Chargers become a prolific offense. Now the Chargers didn’t run the ball well, but they didn’t have very good backs that run the ball, and they caught the ball more than ran it. The Dolphins, it seems, will make a major priority running the football this year to take the pressure off of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) February 16, 2022
McDaniel also hired some experience with new quarterback coach Darrell Bevell. Bevell has been an offensive coordinator for years and has worked with many quarterbacks in Brett Favre, Russell Wilson, Mathew Stafford, and, recently, Trevor Lawrence. He particularly worked with Wilson and developed him in his first few years in the league. Just like Tagovailoa, Wilson wasn’t the biggest quarterback, but he found ways to get the most out of him. That is something the Dolphins need a coach that will get the most out of Tagovailoa. Bevell is mostly remembered for that terrible play call in the Super Bowl, where he threw it at the 1-yard line rather than give it to Marshawn Lynch, but he has been around, and his experience can’t hurt Tagovailoa.
The Dolphins also brought Wes Welker to coach the wide receivers, and he’s still new to the coaching ranks, but he was a great receiver, and his playing experience hopefully will help coach up this receiving core. Studesville is the only member retained, and he can work with the running backs. For the most part, McDaniel completely swept the offensive staff and brought in a group of guys highly regarded and the positions they are coaching. Some might not have the most experience, which worries me if they are up to the challenge. The Dolphins will be running more zone blocking schemes, which might be refreshing, and there will be an emphasis on running the football. I just hope these coaching changes will develop the players they have and are going to bring in and that they will stay to bring the continuity this team needs on the offensive side of the ball.