A prevalent idea in sports is that a team embodies the personality of its coach.
This certainly appears to be the case with the 2022 Miami Dolphins through their off-season and organized team activities.
There is a notable difference in the vibes surrounding Dolphins players in the first several drills from new coach Mike McDaniel, who was led by his predecessor, Brian Flores, who was a disciplinarian. Players are loose. They are having fun practicing. They are not furious at press conferences.
That doesn’t mean it’s better or worse from a football perspective. Many might argue Flores, the way he did things, made the most of the Dolphins roster he had last two seasons, giving him back-to-back winning seasons and a postseason berth every year .
McDaniel’s unique coaching style, which will be combined with a more complete roster, is still unproven. But, if successful in a highly competitive AFC, McDaniel could one day become a trailblazer showing that this approach can work in NFL circles.
It was clear that McDaniel wanted to inject an spontaneity into his players for the first time as head coach when he delivered a simple message to new star receiver Tyrek Hill, which the Dolphins acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Kansas City Chiefs. did when he landed. Miami: “Just be you.”
This week, Hill had to hold herself up from being a little too much in an interview setting, responding to a question about quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s pass before supporting sentiments and praising his new quarterback’s passing accuracy. The first turned into sexual harassment. ,
Tagovailoa himself appears refreshed. While he goes into a pressure-packed season for his career where he has to show progress in Year 3 with everything around him, he said earlier in the offseason that he doesn’t see the situation as a pressure Rather, opportunity.
He also spoke highly of the support he received from McDaniel, while hinting that he didn’t have many fond memories of working with Flores over the past two seasons.
“I think support, for any of us, means a lot,” Tagovailoa said. “The head coach, to be able to have the support of the main person, must tell you a lot.”
McDaniel’s player-friendly approach began with his first paid job as an offensive assistant for the Houston Texans, where he sought to earn the respect of former Miami Hurricanes great Andre Johnson. He did it by proving to Johnson that he was there to help her. And McDaniel does so by offering its innovative football brains.
“He’s a super genius,” said receiver/returner Rivers Crarkraft, who has previously played with the San Francisco 49ers under McDaniel. “That’s all you need to know. He’s smarter than everyone else, no offense to everyone. The man knows what he’s doing, and he’s going to prove it this year.”
Players experienced before and after the transition from Flores to McDaniel have noted the difference in coaching style.
“We all feel the energy here, and it feels like a different vibe this year, for sure,” said cornerback Nick Needham. “You never know what happens, but we want to keep it going. I love what he’s doing here, for sure. He’s a great coach.”
From the very beginning there was mutual respect between the players and their new coach.
“We came in, we all bought in,” said defensive lineman Christian Wilkins. “We gave him a chance. He gave us a chance to show us what we got. It felt natural from day one.”
McDaniel, 39, is young for a head coach, but still noticeably older than most players on the Dolphins roster — most.
“It’s my first time having a head coach that’s my generation, and it feels like a friend of mine as coach, which is great,” said punter Thomas Morstad, 36, who played the Dolphins this off-season. was signed with. “It’s nice to see people like him who are from a unique background in what they do, provide value and help build a team.”
The Dolphins, which have two weeks of organized team activities, shift to a two-day mandatory minicamp on Wednesdays and Thursdays before a final week of OTAs. At the end of July, the training camp will begin before the 2022 season.