About a month ago, in a conference room near his office in Miami Gardens. The Dolphins’ new coach, Mike McDaniel, didn’t just answer questions about how others doubted his ability to fill his new role.
Shorter and smaller than most NFL coaches, he’d heard whispers that he would have trouble directing a team when problems arose. He won’t be able to put a room full of alphas back on the right track.The Yale-educated 39-year-old San Francisco-born run game expert has proven he’s beyond his depth. It was only a matter of time before it was done.
One hot and humid August day, McDaniel told me he was ready.
“That’s how I understand what work is. It’s the hardest moments when people are the most uncertain about themselves, the team, or really about everything. It’s my job to lead.” “It’s the moment that gives you purpose. Whatever I become, that’s it. And for that to happen, I have to be that person.” I cut myself off there.
“Why are you the right person for the job? Well, it’s defined in moments like that. That’s the cool thing about the position. I know they are coming, so I am always waiting for them to happen. And that’s where you define yourself.
So far, so good. Last week, the Dolphins beat him 42-38 from his 35-14 deficit in Baltimore. This week’s results could have been even more dramatic. They outlasted a packed Bills team, where he seemed unstoppable for two weeks in the steam room that doubled as Hard Rock Stadium. It adds to the two wins McDaniel had already registered by defeating Super Bowl champion coaches, and Miami’s only possession in the AFC East heading to a showdown with the defending conference champion Bengals on Thursday night. gave the right.
Even better, when those big moments came, his dolphins responded in the biggest possible way.
A newly dubbed butt punt occurred with 1:37 remaining. Miami went 21–17 and was in a position to let the Bills drive down the field for a touchdown. Instead, Thomas Moersted took the kick off the back end of personal protector Trent Sherfield and ricocheted it out of the end zone for safety.Now all the Bills have to do is return his kick free. , just get in field goal range to win the game and get out of Florida.
It’s where the worst happened to the Dolphins in the past. Miami hopes for the best now, thanks to McDaniel.
It’s been three weeks and still no duds on Sunday. In other parts of the coverage, I do the following:
• Three Deep’s Lamar Jackson, Kirk Cousins and the Colts.
• Over 10 Takeaways with Jalen Hurts Explosion.
• Why Tyler Van Dyke is the poster boy leading Six from Saturday in the 2023 quarterback class.
And so much more after getting a full grasp of everything that happened in Miami with The Lead.
An easy thing for McDaniels to do this week was to build a game against the Bills as a chance for the Dolphins to announce their arrival as bona fide AFC contenders.or this It would be a turning point as the team handled the week with such intensity, hoping to validate their season opener wins over the Patriots and Ravens.
But the issue with that goes back to McDaniel’s feelings about him and ultimately his team-defining moment. But if they can’t, what will happen to the Dolphins? And even if they find a way to win, where’s the four-day turnaround heading into Thursday night’s game?
So McDaniel approached with easy confidence, telling his players that they’ve done the right thing so far early in the season and they must continue to do the right thing. And while a game against the Bills gives them a chance to see how far they’ve come and gives them a good measure, when it’s over, the plan remains the same.
As one staff member said, “We believe in the process we are going through and believe in where we are as a team without thinking too much about what happened.” “And just going out and playing freely, not being tight on anything, just letting people be themselves and play for each other. Everybody did that, man. To the team. We have quality players who can play at a high level.”
So when the Dolphins put up a solid defense in the first series of the game and the Bills still got 75 yards in 10 plays, it wasn’t the end of the world, it could be a punt from their own 35 yards on the next possession. There was not. Indeed, Buffalo almost doubled Miami’s plays in the first half (42–23), nearly doubled the yardage (216–109), and had 16 first downs to Miami’s 10. But the Dolphins were tough. At 14, the score was tied and went into halftime.
It mostly happened because the Dolphins took advantage of their opportunities, one scoring a touchdown three plays after a strip sack of Jevon Holland on Josh Allen who was recovered by Melvin Ingram, and Killed them for the Bills and stopped two drives that went into Miami territory… no points (not including the last possession of the game when the clock ran out).
And from there, after Tua Tagovailoa was knocked down and temporarily out of the game (more on that in Takeaway), the Dolphins defense had to win the day.
Early in the game, Miami attempted to throw a series of electrifying glances at Allen, as they did under Josh Boyer. However, the Bills had a schematic answer, so the Dolphins adjusted some of their game plans on the fly and became less aggressive in chasing Allen as the game progressed. remained the same.
The main thing, in football parlance, is to try to constantly change the picture, and do it in such a way that Allen is looking at one thing before the snap and another after the snap. The Dolphins also shoved all-worlds corner Xavien Howard into Stefon Diggs, forcing Allen to dig deeper into his progression. The hope then was that Allen would return to playing streetball and the Dolphins would stay disciplined and not exhausted.
Of course it was difficult. Because chasing Allen in million-degree heat is more than light exercise. Still, the Dolphins got four stops after the Bills scored the first goal from Miami 2 with 2:36 left. Then a butt punt happened and McDaniel got the moment he’d been waiting for.
No coach wants what happened to Mosted at the end of the game. As you can imagine, the Dolphins’ defense was outgassed, sending them back in three plays after the Bills ran his 17-play drive (a drive that was stopped at the goal line). Raise it.
But that’s where conditioning in the South Florida heat of the summer paid off, as did the staff’s approach to telling players to keep chipping away at what works.
Holland and Nick Needham made plays early in the drive, taking valuable seconds off the clock. A holding penalty with less than 20 seconds left pushed Buffalo back over midfield and into their own territory. On the final play, Isaiah Mackenzie may have had the sideline, but he tried to sway the defenders, resulting in the inbounds encircling and ending the game.
And McDaniel had another moment he hoped would come true, when his team faced adversity against a top opponent to match.
Of course, this is only 3-0. A lot can and will change in the next three months.
But for now, Miami has thrived where it has often failed in the past. And as far as the important steps McDaniel was able to take this early on, it was a pretty big one.
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