Longtime NFL Media personality Rich Eisen recently had a production meeting with his colleagues and Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel. This was in advance of Miami’s epic Week 9 matchup against the Chiefs, which will take place at 9:30 a.m. ET in Frankfurt, Germany, on Sunday.
So anyway, Eisen called into his own show from across the pond to share how McDaniel started believing in his quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, and how he has such a different approach than most coaches in connecting with players.
I’m such a McDaniel fanboy that I’m convinced if a book is written about him someday — whether I finagle my way into doing it myself or not — and if it’s done right, it will fundamentally change how the entire world looks at coaching football. And how to truly get modern players to buy in. And frankly, how not to be an a**hole just for the sake of being an a**hole.
Will do my best not to just mass block quote this article and bore you that way. However, it is worth logging some of the key points Eisen highlighted.
On Tua, McDaniel saw him throw 20 different out routes into “significant coverage” and got amped up by how accurate and fearless Tua was as a passer. But beyond that, McDaniel bought into the adversity Tua had faced early in his career, and related to his own personal experience, as told by Eisen:
“[Tua] had a situation he was overcoming, where a lot of people said that he couldn’t. And how his own mother, Mike McDaniel, in his upbringing, kept telling him how special he was.
And how a parent telling a child how special he or she is, is something that is beyond powerful. And the belief that somebody has in them, placed in them, by somebody who throws their arms around them, is a power that he knows as a coach he can deliver to every single one of his players. […] Tua has thrived amongst the love he’s feeling from his teammates.
“[…] [McDaniel] had an unshakeable faith in Tua, and throwing love in his direction is something that an only child with no siblings can relate to. And he was referring to himself as that.”
McDaniel, too, doesn’t take for granted the power, influence and responsibility he has as a head coach. He said many coaches feel entitled to that power, and they miss the gravity of the situation. McDaniel takes it “very personally” to bring the most out of every one of his players in the very short, finite window they have in their NFL careers.
With the understanding that you need some sort of innate ego/irrational confidence to work your way to the position of NFL head coach, it’s hilarious to me how fake-tough-guy hardo so many of the abject failures act like when they finally get there. It’s hard for me to picture anyone hating on Mike McDaniel. Even if you do for some sort of insecurities-based reason or if you’re a fan for a rival team, you can’t deny that the man is 100% authentic. Unapologetically himself.
A guy whose surname is one letter different and longer, Josh McDaniels, is the anti-Mike McDaniel. Fake tough guy. Hardo. Totally whiffs on forming genuine connections with players. Totally ties his identity to Bill Belichick and Tom Brady instead of forging a leadership style that’s his own. What a shock, after Raiders players met with owner Mark Davis, McDaniels was fired by Las Vegas this week with about 4.5 years remaining on a six-year contract.
I remember all the questions there were about someone of McDaniel’s literal physical stature could earn credibility in an NFL locker room. Now Eisen is sitting here telling us about how McDaniel got Tyreek Hill to listen to his tips on how to improve over this past offseason. Now Tyreek is on pace to break the single-season receiving yards record.
Eisen also states how McDaniel spends 20 hours every Tuesday assembling the game plan. The players roll in Wednesday, fully briefed on how they’re going to execute for the upcoming game, and let’s just say it’s been working pretty well so far.
As for why McDaniel got to Germany early in the week as opposed to later on, Eisen relayed the coach’s answer about that, and it’s very telling.
“In ultimate success, you need to run your system remotely. Because in ultimate success, that’s what you’re going to do Super Bowl week.
So if your goal is to make the Super Bowl, you don’t want your first reps running your system remotely to be Super Bowl week. You might as well simulate it in a week like this.”
McDaniel isn’t leaving Miami any time soon. As long as he’s there, the Dolphins will at the very least have one of the better offenses in the NFL. The Buffalo Bills better figure out how to build a sustainable winner around Josh Allen, because there’s a real chance their Super Bowl window is already closing, at least with the way they’re currently constructed.
Meanwhile, this iteration of the Dolphins under McDaniel is just getting started. I know the Jets will have Aaron Rodgers for the next two seasons, but in that AFC East division, if I had to pick one team who has the best chance to dominate for the foreseeable future, I’d be all over Miami.