When teams make a change at head coach, roster turnover is inevitable because the new coach wants to bring in his own players to fit the schemes they want to run on offense and defense. The Miami Dolphins had a lot of turnover on offense, especially at the skill positions, and brought back basically the entire defense.
Mike McDaniel has been a breath of fresh air in many ways with his personality and how he relates to the players. How will that translate on the field? We will find out soon enough, with training camp less than a month away and season two months away. It will be here before you know it.
With the change on the roster, also are returning players and the question is how some will fit in and will they benefit from a change in the head coach. Here are some players and areas of the team that may benefit from the coaching change.
The first player is obviously quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. It was pretty apparent from the things you read that Tagovailoa and former head coach Brian Flores didn’t get along. It seems like Flores was the one trying to push for the Deshaun Watson trade. When a coach doesn’t have the quarterback’s back, it can really mess with a team. Flores, from all accounts, wasn’t a Tagovailoa fan or even wanted him, and frustration spilled over after a bad performance against the Tennessee Titans last year in the locker room. There was even talk that Tagovailoa didn’t want to be team captain because it meant more time talking to coach Flores. Ok, in that regard, Tagovailoa has to grow up. Regardless of how he felt about Flores, he should have put his feelings aside and tried to find common ground to become the leader of this team. Flores could have done the same as well. However, with coach McDaniel, Tagovailoa has a coach with a plan on offense and who has his back, which is important. McDaniel also is giving the offense a sense of direction and stability because under coach Flores there was a constant turnover on the offense with the coaching staff, in particular at the offensive coordinator position. There was no plan, and last year too many voices in Tagovailoa’s ear. Now the Dolphins seem to have a plan on offense and have surrounded their quarterback with more weapons and speed on offense that should get the most out of Tagovailoa’s skill set and get him going in the right direction.
If there is a position that could really benefit from the coaching change, it’s the offensive line. The line went through 4 offensive line coaches in Flores’s three years as a coach, and that meant new blocking schemes and coaching techniques. The Dolphins spent a lot of high draft picks on the offensive line and are still searching for answers, but with the constant change, did it stunt their growth as players? The offensive line was one of the worst in the NFL last and couldn’t block. With all of the change, it makes you wonder whether the coaching and different schemes were thrown at the players. I find it hard to believe that all of the players the Dolphins drafted in the last few years are bad. Coach McDaniel is bringing his zone-blocking scheme to the offense, and maybe this will get the most out of the young offensive line.
Austin Jackson was drafted in the first round in 2020. He was considered a project and a player that needed time to develop. He started at left tackle and struggled, so he was switched to left guard midway through the season and also struggled. Jackson has the athleticism, and his skill set may be better in the zone-blocking scheme, but he has to compete at the right tackle spot. It would be huge if he stepped up, considering the Dolphins drafted him in the first round.
The Dolphins’ first pick in the second-round pick in 2020 was Robert Hunt, and he has been the most consistent lineman and has found his place at right guard. The question now is can he take his game to another level?
The Dolphins’ 4th-round pick in 2020, Solomon Kindley, has struggled since being drafted. After playing right guard his rookie season, he was switched to left guard and, after two games, was benched and rarely saw the field the rest of last season. I’m not sure how Kindley will fit in, considering his size at 340lbs, and this scheme requires linemen that can move. Maybe if he drops some weight, it could make a difference.
The Dolphins traded up in the 2nd round of the 2021 draft to get Liam Eichenberg, and he struggled last year. Part of the reason was he was moved around. He started at right tackle and then moved to left tackle. Some say he might be better off at guard. He will have a chance to play at left guard, and maybe that will get the most out of his talent.
On defense, the one player who could benefit from a coaching change is Noah Igbinoghene. Igbinoghene was the last of 3 first-round picks of the Dolphins in 2020, and frankly, it was a questionable pick because the Dolphins had Xavien Howard and Byron Jones already on the roster. The Dolphins had other pressing needs but decided to take another cornerback. Igbinoghene was forced into action his rookie season and struggled. Last year, he didn’t play a lot. Igbinoghene is, like Jackson, considered a player who needs time to develop. This is his 3rd year, and it’s a critical year for him. When McDaniel hired Sam Madison and Pat Surtain to coach the secondary, I immediately thought of Igbinoghene as a player that could benefit. Madison and Surtain were all-pro cornerbacks for the Dolphins in the late 90s into the turn of the century. Their experiences playing in the NFL, I believe, could help Igbinoghene. I don’t know if he had issues with Flores, but he wasn’t playing. The Dolphins need to get him on the field and develop instead of sitting on the sideline. If I were the Dolphins, I would play him a lot in training camp and the preseason because Howard and Jones are established starters, and frankly, the Dolphins should minimally play them to get them to the regular season. Igbinoghene needs the opportunities to play and see what he can do. I think his development could be crucial to make an excellent secondary even better if coached up right. It’s up to him to step up his game.
With McDaniel, there will be other changes on the roster, but if he and his staff can turn around some of the players from the previous coaching, it would be huge to this team’s success this year.