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AFC East rivals will put Mike McDaniel’s coaching philosophy to the test

Mike McDaniel is the only offensive-minded head coach in the division.

NFL: AFC Wild Card Playoffs-New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins are turning to Mike McDaniel to give a subpar offensive unit a major facelift.

McDaniel was announced as the 14th head coach in franchise history last week and is now tasked with improving an offense that was 25th with 307 yards per game last season.

Innovation is often a word used to describe McDaniel’s coaching philosophy and he is on the record stating the importance of players that can create yards after the catch.

Excluding interim coaches, Dave Wannstedt, from 2000 until 2004, is the last coach in franchise history to leave the team with a winning record (42-31). McDaniel joins Joe Philbin and Adam Gase as offensive-minded head coaches hired by the Dolphins in the last 10 years.

If McDaniel wants to buck the trend and lead the Dolphins to their first playoff win since 2000, he’ll have to do it in a division built on defense. McDaniel is the only offensive-minded coach in the AFC East.

“He’s brilliant and he’s every bit deserving to be a head coach,” New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh recently said of McDaniel. “I would not like him to come to the division. But if it happens, so be it.”

Saleh coached with McDaniel in San Francisco. While New York’s defense wasn’t fierce in 2021, General Manager Joe Douglas has made it clear that the team will focus on building the trenches.

The Buffalo Bills have quickly taken over as Miami’s big brother in the division, winning each of the last seven matchups. Additionally, the Dolphins eclipsed 21 points just twice during that stretch. The Bills, however, have scored at least 30 points in six of seven games, excluding a 26-11 win on Oct. 31, 2021.

If Miami had one stat to hang its hat on over the last few seasons, they have won five of the last seven games against the New England Patriots. The Dolphins won three of those games by three points or less.

It certainly hasn’t been easy for Miami and the division doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. The Jets are loaded with draft picks, the Bills are ready to contend for a Super Bowl and the Patriots have stabilized after Tom Brady’s move to Tampa Bay.

An improved offense in 2022, despite some stout defenses in the division, will be a strong first step in McDaniel’s tenure as coach of the Dolphins.