As part of the Dolphins’ rejuvenated line-up heading into the 2022 N.F.L. schedule, perhaps one of the most significant changes, and one that will be watched eagerly by fans and antagonists of Miami alike, is the hiring of former 49s assistant coach Mike McDaniels as new H.C. His signing comes in the wake of Brian Flores’s much-publicized and litigious break-up with the Dolphin’s management following 21/22. Of course, people have questions about whether McDaniels will gel with the franchise and find a winning formula that can galvanize the squad into solid playoff contention.

With just the off-season under his belt so far, McDaniel has still managed to draw attention to his merits from leading pundits. Perhaps that’s unsurprising, given his history as a player favorite in every role he’s held back to his Broncos days. What’s more, as he was brought in in the wake of the Flores debacle, his early moves have understandably been scrutinized for signs that this managerial call will be borne out as a winning strategy for the franchise.

Highly Regarded

When pressed to pick a most promising new H.C. for 22/33, Sports Illustrated’s Connor Orr pointed to McDaniels. Citing his ability to recruit effectively and create a supportive and constructive atmosphere around a team, Orr suspects that McDaniel’s may have the secret sauce the Dolphins need to reach the playoffs after such a drought. This perspective appears to be corroborated by sportsbooks operating in international regions as far-flung as India. The South Asian nation is known to be more partial to the sport of cricket, whose top tournament, the Indian Premier League’s, broadcast rights have now climbed to nearly matching the value per game of the N.F.L. at $6.2 billion. However, patrons of regional comparison platforms such as Asiabet, which collates dozens of regional sports betting sites and ranks them on their features, spread of promotions, and free bet offers, are actively seeking the latest odds and specials on the upcoming NFL 22/23 season points to the global footprint of U.S. gridiron nowadays. One top-ranking bookmaker operating in collaboration with this platform has placed odds on McDaniel of 16/1 to pip Coach of the Year by season’s end, a chance that puts him in the fine company alongside Brandon Staley, Doug Pederson, Nathaniel Hackett, and former mentor Kyle Shanahan. Not bad, given McDaniel’s only been in the job for a few months.

McDaniel is the 13th H.C. in the franchise’s history, and should he manage to continue carrying forward the team’s form; he will earn a name for himself in the Dolphins’ hall of fame. The franchise has had plenty of commendable coaches over its 66-year lifespan, though a few have loomed larger than the rest, and for a good reason. Let’s look at the shadow Mike is now set to step into.

Don Shula, the G.O.A.T. (1970 – 1995)

Of course, all Dolphins H.C.’s will have to be measured against Don Shula and his extraordinary tenure in the role. He presided over Miami’s greatest run of form in its history and did much to clarify and define the franchise’s culture after he took over the helm from George Wilson for 26 seasons. Don Shula’s record and statistics are extraordinary. Not only has he carried the Dolphins to more wins than any other H.C., he currently leads the entire N.F.L. for 328 regular season coaching wins. He’s also the only H.C. to bring home the Vince Lombardi, a feat he achieved twice – in 72 and 73.

Tony Sparano, the Turnaround King (2008 – 2011)

Sparano was hired and given the daunting task of rescuing the Dolphins from a repeat performance of their worst season in history under Cam Cameron, who delivered 15 losses to 1 win, a win percentage of 0.63 over 07/08. Fortunately, Sparano more than achieved this aim and now holds the accolade of being the only H.C. to carry a team to the playoffs following a single-win season and only one of two to pull off a 10-win turnaround. Sparano got the ax in 2011 after a mediocre 4-9 start to that year, a sign that the franchise’s momentum was significantly off the pace they had been building under his purview to that point. Yet despite this, his sizable contribution to the franchise remains. He will be forever recognized as the H.C. that shocked Miami back into life in the most dramatic way imaginable.