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MIAMI – When he entered the interview room Tuesday after volunteer organized team activities, Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel looked more like an ad for high-end athletics than a football coach – a gray sweatshirt and matching sweatpants with yellow Yeezy sneakers. color for his outfit.
As Miami enters Phase III of offseason training, McDaniel has become popular on social media for his sense of fashion and among his players for his ability to connect with them. He was hired in February as an offensive guru, but his acumen seems to extend beyond Xs and Os.
“He’s a player coach,” said receiver River Cracraft, who played last season for the San Francisco 49ers, with McDaniel as the offensive coordinator. “He gets along with players and he behaves as if he is one of us in the sense that you can talk to him. He will never push you aside or push you aside … That’s it , he does with everyone here and that’s why I love playing for Mike because you know what you get from him, just his honesty. “
The Dolphins started their offseason training regime in the first week of April, with McDaniel and his staff laying the groundwork for their offensive system.
Miami made it a priority to add playmakers this offseason, and traded for receiver Tyreek Hill (league-best 20 touchdowns on 50 plus yards since 2016). The Dolphins also signed receiver Cedrick Wilson, who showed great playing ability with Dallas last season, and running backs Chase Edmonds (running at 54 and 40 yards in 2021) and Raheem Mostert (top speed of 22.73 mph at a game in 2020 were the fastest of a three-season ball carrier, according to NFL Next Gen statistics).
The Dolphins also signed offensive linemen Terron Armstead and Connor Williams as they switch to an attack that is expected to offer a lot of zone blocking, stretching play and creativity.
Now that the team has moved on from the classroom and film studios and drilling work, it may begin to create a foundation to build on when training camp begins in July, McDaniel said.
“Realistically, you want guys who are committed to getting better, and you really want to determine how you want to do business,” he said. “We had two volunteer minicamps and … our second OTA, and what was important to me was not to skip steps in this industry. So if we want to make progress and make progress as an organization and as a football team “We need to position ourselves so that when we return to training camp, we are able to practice and operate at a high-caliber level that suits our goals.”
Miami missed the playoffs for the fifth season in a row in 2021 and finished with a record of 9-8. Coach Brian Flores was fired the day after the season ended that Jan. 10, where owner Stephen Ross mentions communication issues as one of the deciding factors. McDaniel, who comes from an innovative coaching staff that has produced head coaches Kyle Shanahan (49ers), Sean McVay (Rams) and Matt LaFleur (Packers), was hired to correct an offense that was number 25 in the NFL last season and to encourage changing rooms.
So far, his players have been raving about his work in both areas. McDaniel has kept things light but focused on training, held a putting competition during fitness exercises this offseason and implemented an award for “training player of the day”, with perks that include giving an orange jersey and having full control over the next training music playlist.
“He’s doing a great job of just bringing us all together,” cornerback Nik Needham said. “At team meetings he wants to say some jokes or just funny things, show things on film … I think everything that builds camaraderie on the team.”
Of course, camaraderie can only take a team so far without a proper system in place.
There will be no tangible evidence of the effectiveness of McDaniel’s schemes before the preseason begins, but the offensive players are excited about the renewed approach.
“I mean, it’s a completely different offense, as you can probably see by watching San Francisco’s movies,” said second-year offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg. “It’s just different. New coaches, new style, new scheme. [I’m] trying to improve every day, trying to learn the offense the best I can. “
Said Needham: “We all feel the energy in here and it definitely feels like a different mood this year. You never know what’s going on but we just want to keep doing it. I love what he’s doing here.”