Hard Knocks: In Season With the Miami Dolphins premiered on Nov. 21, following coach Mike McDaniel, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, and the rest of the franchise for the remainder of the season. The Indianapolis Colts appeared on the show in 2021, and the Arizona Cardinals had the honor last season.
The Dolphins are 10-4 for the first time in more than 20 years after demolishing the New York Jets 30-0 on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium. Tagovailoa connected with Jaylen Waddle eight times for 142 yards and a touchdown, while Tyreek Hill had a chance to rest his injured ankle.
Preparing for Episode 5 of Hard Knocks — It’s SO nice to know that this episode doesn’t end with Miami dropping a 14-point lead late in the game. We get to see the aftermath of the Tennessee game — and a defense that wanted to send a message by sacking Zach Wilson five times in the first half.
Bouncing back from the worst loss of the Mike McDaniel era
Mike McDaniel is in his office at 4 a.m. Tuesday morning breaking down film of the first matchup with the New York Jets. It’s sometimes hard to believe how much these coaches work — no matter how much they talk about it.
Offensive line coach Butch Barry joins him in his office and they discuss the “little decisions” made against the Tennessee Titans, mentioning how sometimes it’s hard to track them when so much is happening.
We also hear from Mary Martinez and her classroom to help digest the Monday Night Football loss.
Tyreek in a walking boot
Hill joins Tagovailoa in the film room, and Miami’s quarterback is visually frustrated watching the film from Tennesse’s game. Both guys say what we already knew — this is a good football team, but there were way too many blown opportunities.
Hill got an MRI on his foot following the game and didn’t have a limp while warming up on Sunday. I’m glad both Hill and the team played it safe, Miami needs him to be as healthy as possible over these final three games.
“Bottom line, you have to go through s*** together,” McDaniel said when addressing the team. “We lost the game for 15 different reasons, and I have my hand fully in that.”
There was no sugarcoating this loss to the Titans — Miami’s second-year head coach highlights issues from everyone — including the team’s stars. This team was fired up and it quickly turned into 30 points.
As much criticism as Mike McDaniel gets for his play calls in spots, it was interesting to hear him call the goal-line fade pass to Cedrick Wilson Jr. vs. the Titans "trash" in a team meeting. #HardKnocks— Daniel Oyefusi (@DanielOyefusi) December 20, 2023
The day’s two features were Zach Sieler and Braxton “NFL man” Berrios.
Christian Wilkins and Zach Sieler have the best friendship in the NFL pic.twitter.com/jX8Ygo06qm— King of Phinland (@KingOfPhinland) December 20, 2023
I noticed the Dolphins feature PFF’s second-highest-graded offense and defense through 15 weeks. Miami had some tough losses against good times — and one terrible loss against a lesser opponent.
That said, this is a team loaded with Pro Bowl potential. Bradley Chubb had three sacks against the Jets on Sunday. Raheem Mostert leads the league with 20 touchdowns.
Episode 5’s first scene featured McDaniel watching the film at 4 a.m. — just hours after falling to the Titans on the primetime stage. The Dolphins were 8-3 last season and stumbled to the finish line at 9-8 — this team had a chance to slip down the same path.
Three members of the secondary didn’t play against New York — neither did the league’s top receiver. That didn’t stop the Dolphins from its third 30-point win of the 2023 season.
“This is where we take out last week’s frustrations,“ McDaniel said during the game. “This is where we finish.”
It was fun to see him call his shot for a one-play drive just moments before Tagovailoa and Waddle connected for a 60-yard touchdown reception. Hard Knocks has done an excellent job highlighting his strengths as an offensive-minded head coach.
Week 15 was a reminder of the top-end talent featured on this Dolphins’ roster — let’s see if that’s carried to Sunday’s battle with the Dallas Cowboys.