‘We're Going to Play as a Team': Dolphins Introduce Mike McDaniel as Head Coach

The 38-year-old spent last season as the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers, who advanced to the NFC Championship Game

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The 14th head coach in the history of the Miami Dolphins met with the media for the first time Thursday.

Mike McDaniel was introduced at a morning news conference at the team's facility in Miami Gardens. He signed a four-year contract with the team Monday, one day after his hire was officially announced.

"Any man standing at a podium like this would be honored," McDaniel said. "But that's not why you get into coaching. You get into coaching because you love to teach and make people better. And that's exactly who I'll be as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins."

The 38-year-old spent last season as the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers, who advanced to the NFC Championship Game.

"We are excited Mike is here and we look forward to him working with us, with (general manager) Chris (Grier) to win Super Bowls," owner Stephen Ross said. "First, we've got to win our conference games."

The Yale graduate, who played wide receiver for the Bulldogs, McDaniel has been coaching in the NFL since 2005, spending time with organizations including the Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Washington Football Team and Cleveland Browns.

"Certainly, when you talk to people the first thing they'll say about him is he's innovative and works outside the box," Ross said.

McDaniel was an offensive assistant with the Atlanta Falcons in 2016 when the team advanced to Super Bowl LI before moving on the San Francisco, where he spent the last five seasons and was named offensive coordinator in 2021.

He thanked the 49ers organization for giving him a chance to interview for the position.

"To get in a spot like this, it's almost overwhelming to think about all the people who are along the ride with you," McDaniel said. "If one of them doesn't decide to invest in you, you may not get this opportunity."

McDaniel was credited for his role in developing San Francisco's creative running game that featured receiver Deebo Samuel as a running back at times, along with other wrinkles. McDaniel could bring some of those wrinkles to Miami to feature playmaking receiver Jaylen Waddle in even more creative ways.

"They looked at me for me and that really galvanized my interest in the organization," McDaniel said when describing the interview process.

McDaniel, who is biracial, replaces Brian Flores, who was fired despite posting winning records in the final two of his three seasons in Miami. "It didn't take me long to realize this is the place I want to be, so I better not screw this interview up."

Flores sued the NFL, the Dolphins and two other teams last week over alleged racist hiring practices for coaches and general managers, saying the league remains “rife with racism” even as it publicly condemns it.

Former Miami Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores discusses his lawsuit against the NFL, which alleges racism in hiring practices. Flores also describes an incident where he says he was asked to lose games for money, a claim denied by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

The Dolphins struggled offensively this season despite finishing 9-8 in a roller-coaster campaign that featured a seven-game losing streak followed by a seven-game winning streak.

McDaniel said he saw no "red flags" from his talks with the Dolphins.

“I can honestly say there was absolutely no red flags,” McDaniel said. “And the reason why was because I’m stepping into an organization with a boss that I don’t think people give their proper due, Stephen Ross. There’s no cost too high for winning for him. And when you’re in multiple organizations, you realize that’s not always the case.

“The city of Miami really, really is lucky to have an owner that, right, wrong or indifferent all he cares about is winning and as a coach that’s all you’re literally looking for. So red flags? No, there’s no red flags for me.”

Second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa struggled at times and Miami ranked 22nd in the league in scoring this season.

“We talked to many many very qualified candidates for this job in both pro and college football,” Grier said. “What resonated with us was how excited everyone was for this job. Even in the last two weeks, there were people that were calling trying to get into this job. Steve was very calculated and made sure that we didn’t rush this process. There were times when I was like, let’s go, let’s push this forward and Steve was, ‘Hey, let’s make sure we do this as thoroughly and correctly as we can.’”

McDaniel becomes the 10th consecutive hire by the Dolphins to have exactly zero previous games as the person in charge of an NFL sideline, following Jim Bates, Nick Saban, Cam Cameron, Tony Sparano, Todd Bowles, Joe Philbin, Dan Campbell, Adam Gase and Flores. Bates, Bowles and Campbell were all interim hires.

Of those, including McDaniel, six have come during Ross’ ownership.

"What I'm here to do is create a brand of football known as Miami football," McDaniel said. "It's a team sport, we're going to play as a team and I promise you're going to feel that."

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