So instead of our nightly live thread, I am just going to do a post about my impressions of today's press conference or at least highlights of the said presser but feel to use it in place of the live thread while hopefully squeezing in a bit of banter about the presser and or our new head coach, Mike McDaniel.
To begin with I am not sure what took the Miami Dolphins so long to hold this press conference. I would have expected, based on what we usually see when a pro franchise or even a major college hires a new head coach, that we would have seen this held on Tuesday, probably mid-day or the afternoon after McDaniel and his family arrived in South Florida. He arrived fairly late the first night and it would have been a bad idea to try and hold it late in the evening from a media standpoint. I have to assume that given somewhere between 12 and 18 hours, especially with all the drama that is circling the Dolphins right now, that would have easily been enough time to assemble any press that would have wanted to be there.
I know that some will blame the current scandals for the timing of the press conference but neither Ross nor Grier took any questions. I suspect that the Miami Dolphins legal team has advised them against doing so but both are grown men who could easily have just said upon the first question about the lawsuit, which would have almost certainly been the first question knowing the media, “As this is an ongoing legal matter we will not be making any comments that pertain to the lawsuit at this time.” End of story! Then they both could have answered some actual questions about the selection of McDaniel and the future direction of the team.
Okay, now onto the actual presser. First up was owner Stephen Ross. Ross of course said all the usual things about how he stuck out above all the others and his brilliance and on and on. The one interesting note in Ross’ comments was the fact that he claimed that he received several calls from coaches in the NFC West. Each one was to heap praise on Mike McDaniel as a coach. He also stated that when asked what their motivation was they stated that they really just wanted him out of their division. Assuming that this is all true that seems a good first sign. He also stated that as far as the chain of command that McDaniel will report directly to general manager Chris Grier.
Next up was Chris Grier. One of the things that Grier mentioned that caught my attention was that he stated that “People would be surprised” as the people that had contacted him about the Dolphins head coaching job. I don’t know how surprised we actually would be but I would love to know who those people were if it went down as he claimed. Grier also stated that he had spoken to several players that had been coached by McDaniel, both players that are presently on the San Francisco 49ers roster as well as players that he had formally coached and they all heaped praise on Mike for the job he does. The same sentiment was also shared, according to Grier, but some agents that he spoke to, although I assume that they are basing their beliefs on what they have been told by their clients. That could be a good, good, good thing if all is true as having a coach that players want to play for goes a long way at attracting the best talent when you get to free agency. In some cases, players will play for a bit less to go to a team whose coach they want badly to play for.
My one question after seeing both the owner and GM on stage at the same time was why were they wearing what appeared to be the same exact suit jacket? Am I wrong? Am I the only one that thought this was weird or strange in some way?
Okay, moving on...
Next up was the reason everyone showed up to the press conference, Mike McDaniel. I will say that McDaniel comes off as super personable. He just talks like a regular guy who is not afraid to make fun of himself. Having a guy that does not seem to take himself too seriously is refreshing. While I did like Brian Flores he could be a bit uptight or at least seemed very uptight at times. The first thing that McDaniel said that stuck out to me was that once he came to Miami and interviewed and met the people in the organization and saw the amazing facilities, he knew it was his dream job. If I heard that from a lot of other people I would think they were just trying to make everything sound like it was perfect with wine and roses but with this guy, you get the genuine feeling that he is above board with whatever he says. I 100% assume that he flew home and told his wife the same thing that he told us today. How refreshing!
McDaniel also pointed out that the Miami Dolphins were the only NFL team interested in him becoming their head coach and the positive feeling that gave him for the organization. He went on to state how unbelievable the facilities were. In an earlier video from the evening that he and his family arrived in Miami you can hear him telling his wife as they walk up to the front doors of the Dolphins facilities that they are the nicest facilities that he has ever seen. Having previously worked for six different franchises in the NFL that’s quite a compliment to the team and I suspect Ross, who masterminded the building of the new facilities.
When asked about his offensive scheme he stated that we would see a unique design tailored to the players that they have, on both sides of the ball. He stated that he was going to create a brand of football known as Miami Dolphins football. He would do so by not only designing the systems to fit their players but also via bonding as a team. One of the things that really jumped out to me that is in complete contrast to what the world of Miami Dolphins Twitter believes is that he stated how he liked the “lack of ego in the building.” This could just be a case of everyone being on their best behavior in the beginning but it was still refreshing to hear given all the other dark clouds that have been hanging over this franchise recently.
One of the first questions McDaniel was asked was not unsurprisingly about the scandal/Brian Flores lawsuit. He was specifically asked if he saw any red flags, with the implication that it was about the Flores situation. He just flatly denied that he saw any red flags. He went on to state that one of the things that he liked was that none of this was about making money for Ross. He was in it to win. Nothing more. While Ross is not the favorite of most Dolphins fans I think most of us can agree that his priority is winning, even if he seems to have had no idea how to do so thus far.
Mike was asked about being a first-time head coach. He responded with the fact that every head coach was never a head coach until he became a head coach. He then went on to talk about how San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan had made him his right-hand man. This gave him an inside look at what Kyle did day to day giving him immense insight into how to become a head coach. He stated that with Kyle he was allowed to watch the full process every day. When asked if he was prepared for the moment he stated that he has been preparing for this his entire life. Good to see the passion is and always has been there. Hopefully, this translates to something we have not seen in forever.
When asked about being comfortable with his knowledge needed to be a head coach he stated that he was in fact confident with the knowledge he had versus what he needed but that there were also plenty of great people in the building that would help him along the way. He also stated that it would have been irresponsible to have worked alongside many great coaches and not learned from each of them.
Then came the inevitable question, the same one that everyone from social media has been asking. What about the play calling? McDaniel stated that he would be the one that would in fact be making the play calls on offense on game day. He also went on to talk about how his fifteen years in the NFL have all been in the same offensive system but that with each new team and each new roster that the system was altered to fit the players that they had. When asked about people lauding his creativity in the system he stated, in the same vein as above, that his creativity was due to the players that he had at that time.
When asked about working with Grier he stated that Grier will make sure that the players fit the system. Actually, he used the words “better fit the system.” He also said that it was not about ego with Grier, that he just wants to win. He went on to say that he expects no pushback from Grier on what he wants.
When Mike was asked about the best way to teach he stated that it was an evolving process. He stated that he has learned that players will respond to a “linear story”. Meaning to him that you can tell them where they are and end with where they want to get to. He also stated that tape, video, listening, asking questions, and even teaching the players in an entertaining way were all parts of the best ways to teach. He said you must also be able to adjust depending on the player and the situation.
McDaniel was asked what the best way to get players to listen to you was and he stated that players will listen to anyone that convinces them that they can help them reach the goals and dreams that they have for themselves. He said that players will listen to anyone with a pulse if you can help them. He went on to state that players respond to authenticity and that players respect you when you are who you are.
Mike was questioned as to why he was the one to win a playoff game with the Miami Dolphins when it has not happened in twenty years. His initial answer was just a flat “Why not?”. He then went on to talk about how passionate Miami Dolphins fans are despite the drought and that they were going to feel great when he and his staff get it done. He even went on to say, “What does the last 20 years have to do with this year?”. Good point!
One of the next questions was if McDaniel had spent any time watching tape of the Dolphins from last season before accepting the job. Mike stated that he had already watched a lot of tape beforehand. When questioned about the Dolphins' victory over his then 49ers team two seasons ago he stated that he is now the head coach of the Miami Dolphins and “We kicked the 49ers something!”. That comment alone seemed to tell me something. Not if he will eventually be the savior at the head coach position that we have all so very long waited for but that at the very least he gets it. He also talked about how the players played hard at the end of the season and that it was obvious that they loved to play the game and that was key to him.
Then came the stupid question that we all expected, the one about McDaniels ethnicity. I guess given the Flores lawsuit and the implications in that suit this is a question that the media was going to have to address either way. So here is the full statement “Yeah, it’s been very odd, to tell you the truth. This idea of identifying as something. I think people identify me as something but I identify as a human being. And my dad is Black. So whatever you want to call it. I know there’s a lot of people with a shared experience. It’s weird that it comes up because I’ve just tried to be a good person and I think my background opens my eyes a little bit. I don’t have any real experience with racism. I think you identify me as something close to – I don’t know. But I know my mom experienced it when she married my dad. I know my dad experienced it and that it’s in my family. I guess that makes me a human being that can identify with other people’s problems.”
McDaniels also spoke about his childhood and how he was obsessed with the Denver Broncos at the time. He would literally at the time ride his bike to their training facility every day and follow the player's movements for the whole day. He even went so far as to write “I will be in the NFL someday” inside of his little league football helmet. While his childhood dream was not to be a coach in the NFL but instead to be an actual player. Either way, he made it to the highest point in coaching in the game that he loves. Here to hoping that it pays him as many dividends as it does us fans...