As head coach of the Miami Dolphins, Mike McDaniel has guided them to their first playoff appearance in two decades. Much of his success so far can be credited to Tua Tagovailoa, their young quarterback.
As a boy growing up in Greeley, Colorado, McDaniel would ride his bike to the Denver Broncos’ training camp every day. He shared an intense bond with his stepfather Gary McCune.
He’s not afraid to laugh
One of Mike McDaniel parents trademark qualities as a coach has been his ability to laugh at himself. This has earned him fans’ admiration, especially when his Dolphins are winning.
He possesses an uncanny ability to see things others don’t, and he seems to know what players need better than most. That’s why NFL scouts describe him as a mastermind and former wide receiver Andrew Hawkins calls him “savant”.
One of the things that sets him apart as a coach is his knack for recognizing the small moments that can have an immense impact. Whether it’s admitting when he’s wrong or providing Grade A feedback to players, these skillsets set him apart from other coaches.
He’s not afraid to yell
Mike McDaniel stands out with his sense of humor. He’s not afraid to joke around, but when it comes to screaming, he doesn’t do so often or in a manner that carries any weight.
He instead relies on logic and evidence to motivate his players, treating everyone with respect. He knows that how he interacts with people will ultimately benefit him, his players, and the Dolphins organization.
His style is a breath of fresh air for an organization that had struggled under Brian Flores, who carried forward the tough, uncompromising approach of his mentor Bill Belichick from New England Patriots coach.
McDaniel has provided Tagovailoa with five months of invaluable experience during his first five months on the job, giving him invaluable guidance that has enabled him to develop into a franchise quarterback and become the most accurate quarterback in NFL history. It has given him confidence to make big plays when needed most. With McDaniel by his side, Tagovailoa is on track to becoming an MVP candidate!
He’s not afraid to be present
McDaniel took over as Miami’s head coach with an enthusiastic crowd behind him. This enthusiasm was evident in his game-winning play call against New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, which helped the Dolphins earn their first victory of the season against a team that is 0-5 all-time in Miami and hadn’t made the playoffs since 1999.
In 2021, the San Francisco 49ers led all rush offenses with Elijah Mitchell and Deebo Samuel at their quarterback positions. Even though these young men were still developing, they made the most of their opportunities.
McDaniel isn’t afraid to be present in his life; he knows that when he makes the right decisions, they will pay off. This mindset was instilled in him during childhood. Additionally, McDaniel believes in being grateful for what he has – so when a Dolphins player makes an impressive play while McDaniel watches from the sideline, he always says “thank you” instead of simply congratulating them.
He’s not afraid to trust
Mike McDaniel has shown no fear in his first season as Miami Dolphins head coach, taking risks to build trust and develop his players. That includes trusting Tua Tagovailoa when he experienced concussion symptoms.
It’s a sign of his trust in his players and an encouragement for them to have faith in him as well.
Few weeks after Tagovailoa and the Dolphins exchanged running back Jaylen Waddle, McDaniel conducted a FaceTime call with Tua to encourage him to bring out his greatest qualities. During their conversation, Tagovailoa expressed that he wanted to bring out the best in himself.
Tua has worked tirelessly to achieve his goals, and now that he’s back on the field, his determination is beginning to bear fruit.
McDaniel, who is biracial, understands the racial bias he’s likely experienced throughout his life. As such, he understands the importance of being honest with players about his own background, which makes him an ideal fit for the Dolphins.