It’s fair to say Mike McDaniel’s coaching debut was a success. The Dolphins beat their hated AFC East rival the Patriots 20-7 behind 307 yards of offense and no turnovers.
While Miami’s defense was very much responsible for Sunday’s win, the offense made plays when it had to, and McDaniel put it in positions to succeed.
A prime example: his call on fourth-and-7 from the Patriots’ 42 with 24 seconds left in the first half. The Dolphins, already up 10-0, lined up to go for it, prompting CBS’s Adam Archuleta to say he didn’t like the call.
The result, however, disagreed. Tua Tagovailoa threw a strike to Jaylen Waddle over the middle in between three Patriots defenders, and Waddle housed it to give the Dolphins a 17-0 lead going into halftime.
Bama Boys back at it again 👀 @AlabamaFTBL @Tua to @D1__JW for the TD‼️
📺: Watch #NEvsMIA on @NFLonCBS pic.twitter.com/M0juJWnM7i
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) September 11, 2022
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Tyreek Hill had a big debut for the Dolphins. Of Tagovailoa’s 270 passing yards, 94 went to Hill on eight receptions, cementing a connection Hill cultivated with his words all summer.
He continued his colorful prose when talking about McDaniel’s decision to go for it on fourth down.
“McDaniel’s gonna need a wheelbarrow for his n—s (slang for testicles) to carry them around,” Hill told reporters after the game, per Clay Ferraro. “Cause he’s got a lot of c—s (Spanish slang for testicles), you know what I’m saying? So, gutsy call by him.”
In a lengthy postgame explanation, McDaniel went through the math behind going for it.
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“It was a cool moment for, really, our whole team, but the mechanics of working with the game management guys and talking through the different scenarios, we were just at the fringe of (Dolphins kicker) Jason’s (Sanders) range,” McDaniel said. “Yeah, you can push the envelope, but the flip side is you miss it, and you’re a first down away from giving up points.”
McDaniel also mentioned Hill and Waddle’s words about Tagovailoa, whose arm strength has frequently been criticized by people outside the organization.
“Part of the reason that you hear so much praise from Tyreek and Waddle about Tua is because he throws that catchable ball that you can get yards after catch,” McDaniel said.
Obviously, in this case, it paid off for the Dolphins, who find themselves entering a new era on the right foot. McDaniel carries himself with a lot of confidence, and so far it’s rubbing off on the team.