Friday, December 8

McDaniel: ‘No red flags’ in taking Dolphins’ job

MIAMI — The drama surrounding the Miami Dolphins organization didn’t deter Mike McDaniel.

The team’s new head coach, speaking to the media about his dream job for the first time since he was hired Feb. 6, praised Dolphins owner Stephen Ross for his commitment to winning despite allegations from former head coach Brian Flores that Ross offered Flores $100,000 for every game the team lost in 2019.

“I can honestly say there were absolutely no red flags — and the reason why is because I was stepping into an organization with a boss who, I don’t think people give it it’s proper due,” McDaniel said Thursday. “The city of Miami is lucky to have an owner that, right, wrong or indifferent, all he cares about is winning. As a coach, that’s literally all you’re looking for.

“So red flags? No, there’s no red flags for me.”

McDaniel, the 49ers’ former offensive coordinator, comes to Miami as a first-time head coach after five seasons in San Francisco — where he is credited for his innovative play design and his creativity.

Ross said some people refer to McDaniel as a “genius,” and that he received calls from coaches in the NFC West who praised his football acumen but ultimately “want him out of the division.”

A league source told ESPN that Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay and Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur were among those to call Ross and vouch for McDaniel.

Ross also established a chain of command for the Dolphins, saying McDaniel will report to general manager Chris Grier. During previous coaching regimes, Grier has reportedly left personnel decisions to the team’s head coach — but McDaniel said working with Grier was one of the selling points of the job.

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“He isn’t interested in ego and agenda,” McDaniel said of Grier. “He is interested in a bond with the head coach that excels and beats other peoples’ bond. He wants to gel as a unit.”

McDaniel affirmed that he would have some say in personnel decisions, implying that it wasn’t Grier’s style to shut out his head coach. He also confirmed the Dolphins will run a “unique design that’s tailored to our players” in terms of their offensive, defensive and special teams schematics. One major development for McDaniel — he said he plans on calling offensive plays.

He was not the primary playcaller in San Francisco despite being the offensive coordinator, but a league source told ESPN that the process was collaborative and resulted in McDaniel periodically calling plays toward the end of the season. But his decision to do so in Miami isn’t based on ego; he said he’s learned a lot about the process under 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan.

“One thing I’ve noticed in my journey is that successful playcallers don’t isolate themselves — they utilize the people around them,” he said. “If you’re a head coach and calling plays, you better feel very good about the people on your offensive staff.”

The offensive guru takes over an offense that ranked 22nd in total offense in 2021, including 30th in rushing — which was McDaniel’s specialty in San Francisco.

He also inherits the fifth-overall pick in 2020, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who comes off an injury-riddled second season. When asked about his new quarterback, McDaniel described Tagovailoa as a player who is “trying to get better,” but insisted that he’s ultimately part of the team as a whole.

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“I’m not sitting here concerned with how good Tua can be,” he said. “I’m concerned with, as a collective unit, what we can grow together, because that’s what wins. It’s my job to make sure he has the best chance to showcase his talents.”

Miami has put together its best two-year stretch since 2003 in terms of total wins, with 19 over the past two seasons. But the Dolphins have not made the playoffs since 2016, won a playoff game since 2000 nor won the AFC East since 2008.

Ross called Thursday an “exciting day” — one that brings the Dolphins a step closer to ending those aforementioned droughts.

“We looking forward to [McDaniel] working with us and creating a team that will win Super Bowls,” Ross said. “First we’ve got to start winning our conference and division. … That’s what we’ve always said that we wanted, a team that can win consistently.”

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