McDaniel Perfect Fit For Tua, Dolphins
Mike McDaniel has proved a perfect fit as head coach for the Miami Dolphins, particularly in his relationship with Tua. Since I made that a primary focus of that article I will not rehash it here. The clip from Sunday of the two of them chatting about how Tua looked in high school shows how close they are.
Given the offseason, with Brian Flores firing, and the questions surrounding Tua, the Dolphins needed a positive voice. Not to mention the fact that Stephen Ross made a mess of things with Tua and Flores. The attitude towards Tua also reportedly damaged his confidence.
The Dolphins needed a positive, optimistic, player-coach. From all appearances, McDaniel found a way to encourage players while still giving them constructive criticism. The players on offense make his job easier, but his scheme and play calling helped to gain the offense’s trust as well. The upcoming schedule will be the greatest test of the team’s trust in him.
Assessing Josh Boyer’s Performance As Defensive Coordinator
I also did an assessment of Miami’s defense as well, and because of that I will focus more on Josh Boyer’s defensive playcalling. The real question now needs to be asked about coaching versus injuries in terms of the Dolphins’ defensive issues. This past Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers shows that both were at fault for the loss.
Christian Wilkins, an excellent inside run stuffer, and improving pass rusher. is not fast enough to track down Christian McCaffrey when he breaks to the outside. The linebackers are responsible for tracking him and covering him. How much the Dolphins’ linebackers failure to tackle is on them might be an open question, but Miami’s other issue is not.
Byron Jones injury stirred many theories over the last few weeks. The likelihood he plays at all this year now appears slim. His injury, along with safety Brandon Jones, made Boyer’s job harder. Keion Crossen and Kader Kohou have played well, but at times they have made mistakes. Their youth and inexperience make it harder to blitz and play cover zero. Playing more zone may not be to the strength of Xavien Howard, for instance.
Where Coaching Falls Short On Offense
Why the Dolphins ran the ball just eight times on Sunday is a mystery. Running the ball to help protect Tua and set up easier throws for him was a big part of the reason to get excited about McDaniel’s hiring,
The 49ers won 33-17 but they led by just six with 6:03 left. The Dolphins not running the ball more also makes little sense when Tua looked the most unsettled he has had all season. Yes, Terron Armstead did not play Sunday. No know how much longer his pectoral tear will keep him out, but there were more opportunities to run the ball. The San Diego Chargers, who the Dolphins face this Sunday, rank 28th in rush defense. There is no excuse for not attacking their defense’s greatest weakness, even if Armstead remains sidelined for another week.
Bottom Line On Miami’s 2022 Coaches
Mike McDaniel’s scheme may be a perfect fit for Tua, but the rest of the offense has a clear advantage over the defense in talent as well. McDaniel’s ability to find ways to scheme Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle open in the middle of the field should not be discounted. But Hill, Waddle, Armstead, and Tua are just a few examples of the talent edge on offense. Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson, when Miami commits to running the ball, can be a formidable backfield tandem.
Miami’s pass rush, whether due to injuries in the secondary, scheme, or lack of pass rushers has not been as good as the last two years. Miami struggles with mobile quarterbacks, and the Dolphins face one of the best in the Los Angeles Chargers Justin Herbert this week. Brandon Jones’s greatest strength, blitzing the quarterback, will be missed this week. Coverage of tight ends also is an issue for the linebackers at times. Special teams coverage, particularly punt coverage, also put the defense in tougher positions last two weeks.
With all the struggles Miami still sits at 8-4 with an excellent chance to make the playoffs. The level of optimism surrounding the team remains higher than in 2016, the last time the Dolphins made the postseason. McDaniel appears to right hand to steer the ship, even if questions remain on the defensive side. Things look brighter now than when the team announced him as the new head coach this off-season.
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