Well, the Miami Dolphins finally ended their search for a new head coach Sunday night, hiring Mike McDaniel, the San Franscisco 49ers offensive coordinator. This is McDaniels first time being a head coach, and has worked his way up the ranks in the NFL since being an intern with the Houston Texans in 2006. He has a lot of experience working under Mike and Kyle Shanahan on the offensive side of the ball, so obviously, he’s an offensive mind and probably something this team needs. Fans are always excited when they hire a new head coach because it’s a fresh start, and a new coach brings a new era with him. However, I’m wondering why things will be different this time around with this new coach? I honestly never heard of him until this coaching search started. I know he interviewed for the offensive coordinator position last year, but that’s about all I know about McDaniel. 


Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is known for going for younger coaches because they are the future and bring a fresh approach. He has hired nothing but first-time head coaches since becoming an owner in 2009. The coaches he hired were either total failures or didn’t work well with him and the front office. In fact, in the last two decades, the Dolphins have hired nothing but first-time NFL head coaches. The last one they hired with NFL head coaching experience was Dave Wannstedt; let that sink in. With Ross not getting the right guy the last 3 times, you would think he would have tried a different approach and hired someone with previous experience, like Dan Quinn or Doug Pedersen, especially one with experience working with younger quarterbacks to help develop quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. McDaniel met with the team for his 2nd interview for over 10 hours or so; obviously, they liked what he presented to the team and his plan, especially on offense, which has held this team back for years. 

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McDaniel is considered an outside-the-box thinker and a creative offensive mind. He never called plays before but is considered the guy behind the scenes that put things together with the 49ers. He also is known for putting his playmakers in great spots to make plays to take advantage of their talents, like wide receiver Debo Samuels using him on running plays on end arounds to get the most out of his talents. He also is considered the running game guru in which he comes up with schemes to get the running game going. The 49ers have been one of the top running teams in the league the last few years and have run it with multiple running backs, not just one. These are things the Dolphins need on offense, but I’m still skeptical. 


The Dolphins have gone this route with offensive guru head coaches before, and it hasn’t worked out. In 2007, the Dolphins hired Cam Cameron, considered an offensive guru with the San Diego Chargers, and he was in over his head as a head coach. His offense, in his only season, was downright offensive. The Dolphins’ best playmaker at the time was running back Ronnie Brown, and for whatever reason, Cameron didn’t know how to use him right away and, in fact, had him returning kickoffs. He finally used him properly, but then he tore his ACL to end his season before the midway point of the season. He didn’t handle his quarterbacks well at all. He played rookie John Beck when he was clearly not ready to play. Plus, Cameron didn’t have the respect of his own locker room. In 2012, the Dolphins hired Joe Philbin, who was considered the guy behind the scenes with the Green Bay Packers working with Aaron Rodgers, and his offenses were so inconsistent. He would abandon the running game so quickly, and teams were soft. Plus, like Cameron, his team didn’t respect him as the head coach. Then in 2016, the Dolphins hired Adam Gase, also considered an offensive guru and quarterback whisper in charge of one of the highest scoring offenses in league with the Denver Broncos. The problem is he didn’t have Peyton Manning. The Dolphins made the playoffs his first year, but that was a fairy tale season that didn’t repeat itself. Gase was in charge of the whole offense, and it crashed and burned with him. Yes, he did have injuries at quarterback, but he always butted heads with his players, and his team quit on him in the end. Yet another offensive guru in over his head as a head coach.  


The other thing about young first-time coaches is who will they bring in on their coaching staff. Philbin brought in Mike Sherman as offensive coordinator, but that didn’t work out. He then brought in an inexperienced defensive coordinator in Kevin Coyle, who didn’t know what he was doing. Gase ran his offense and put the trust of his defense in Vance Joseph and then Matt Burke. The Dolphins made the playoffs with Joseph’s defense forcing turnovers, but for the most part, the defenses flamed out with inexperienced coaches, in particular with Burke. Flores built a nice defensive staff, but he had three different offensive coordinators, and four different offensive line coaches in his three years as head coach. It more than likely contributed to the offensive inconsistencies. I would like to see McDaniels plan for a staff. Does he bring some experienced coaches or first-timers? That could be a big key.  

The NFL lately has been seeing younger offensive-minded coaches getting hired. They are trying to get with the times of high-powered offenses. The recent examples are the two Super Bowl coaches in Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay and Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor. This will be McVay’s 2nd Super Bowl trip with the Rams, and to his credit has hired some good defensive assistants to help him like Wade Phillips and Raheen Morris, guys who have been around. Taylor, worked under McVay and was an assistant with the Dolphins with Philbin, started out with two bad seasons and was almost fired last year, but got lucky with quarterback Joe Burrow coming back from injury to lead the team to the Super Bowl. However, for every McVay, there is a Gase, Matt Nagy, Chip Kelly, and others considered offensive minds that couldn’t make it work as NFL head coaches. I don’t know what to expect from McDaniel. 


One thing he has going in his favor is the defense is set up well, and he can put together the pieces on offense because that’s where most if not all of the work will go this off-season. Honestly, the Dolphins only have one building block on offense and that’s Jaylen Waddle, their most dynamic playmaker. They do have DeVante Parker, but he’s injury-prone. Tight end Mike Gesicki is a free agent and who knows how McDaniels views him. Outside of that, the Dolphins have no running backs and one of the worst offensive lines in the entire league. On top of that, the Dolphins are stuck with the decision to continue to develop Tagovailoa or look elsewhere? McDaniel, it sounds like has a plan to work with Tagovailoa, but how is he going to implement it. He honestly can go nowhere but up with the offense. It’s been over 20 years since the Dolphins finished in the top 10 in offense. My goodness, nowadays, you have to score points in order to succeed in the NFL. The rules are designed to favor the offense, but the Dolphins haven’t found any measure of success getting anything on offense. McDaniel will more than likely bring that zone blocking scheme to the offensive line, which is a staple of the Shanahan offense and has been successful; it should be interesting if that would be a better fit with some of these offensive linemen. 


The biggest thing with McDaniel that I have is can he lead an entire locker room? Can he handle all of the things that go into the head coaching position? Dealing with all phases of the game, not just offense. If he can hire a quality staff with the experience to help him out, that would help him. Plus, how good of a communicator is he with his players? All indications are he is a good communicator. How big is he on discipline? That was one thing lacking with Gase and Philbin, especially Gase, as his teams would commit silly penalties week in and week out. One of Flores’s great strengths about him of having a disciplined team. These are just many questions I have of our new coach, along with if he was high on the Dolphins radar, why wasn’t he considered of the eight other head coaching openings? 


Call me a fan that the past two decades have been traumatized by bad decisions from this once proud franchise growing up. I hope this works out, and if it does, I will be proven wrong, but given Ross’ recent hires, I was little confident with what will work out. Prove me wrong.