McDaniel addresses his approach, Tua, offense more

Miami Dolphins Head Coach Mike McDaniel speaks to the media after the second day of mandatory mini camp at Baptist Health Training Complex in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Thursday, June 2, 2022.

Miami Dolphins Head Coach Mike McDaniel speaks to the media after the second day of mandatory mini camp at Baptist Health Training Complex in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Thursday, June 2, 2022.

Tua Tagovailoa has mentioned how refreshing it is that Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel is positive and upbeat.

Where does that come from?

“I’m a positive person,” he said. “I wasn’t approaching it like I want to be the positive coach. That’s not what I think I am. I want players’ sole focus to be getting better at the craft and being the best player you can be. If you’re able to be yourself, that’s one less thing you’re thinking about [so you can focus on] getting better at your craft.

“I want players to think they can be themselves [with me]† Team sports are fun. The grind is fun. In the present, it doesn’t feel like it is. The most important thing I want them to feel is they have an honest coach.

“Don’t get twisted. There are plenty of times in my own way I’m very very direct because that’s what players are depending on. It’s whatever the elixir is to maximize a player’s ability to perform.”

He said “the No. 1 rule on the team is to protect the team.”

Asked what coaches he has drawn things from, he said several but added “I’ve never patterned myself after everybody.”

McDaniel addressed other issues:

On Tagovailoa’s play inside the red zone: “We’ve spent considerable time emphasizing first and second down for multiple reasons, including pads not being on. His skill set in tighter areas only enhances his ability.

“He’s an accurate quarterback that really knows how to put the ball where he wants it to be placed. All the red zone is to me is… windows become tighter, decisions have to become quicker. The work we have done, I’ve been very pleased with that.”

McDaniel said he feels very good with where the team is offensively.

“We have just enough taste of what we’re good at and what we have to work on,” he said. “I’m not really looking for touchdowns [in OTAs}. I’m looking at how players are getting better each day against a defense [with a lot of returning players]†

“There are a couple plays I wish we made here or there. But overall as an offense, I’m feel extremely, extremely happy and confident where we are at going into the summer.”

On undrafted rookies who have impressed him: He said it’s difficult to say yet but mentioned he has been “very impressed” with former South Carolina running back Zaquandre White and calls him “Dr. White.”

“The undertaking they have where they are transitioning from a different game and [competing against] grown men [is difficult]† Certain positions are more akin to show fast and furious. Running backs you get a little more opportunity [to flash in OTAs]†

“Don’t make too early of a judgment. What you’re trying to do is establish is should they have a ticket to the party [training camp]† Our whole undrafted class, … they brought young men that are hungry and meet the bar. It will be an exciting late summer, early fall.”

On where the the team stands heading into the summer break: “The coaches have done a great job and players have really attacked this offseason. I’m comfortable the way they’ve worked. I feel we have a lead in the first quarter. What does that mean? nothing.

“The biggest message is the obligation and accountability they need to have to teammates while they’re gone. if you don’t come back in training camp shape at the beginning of camp, you make yourself very vulnerable to soft tissue injuries, which puts you two or three weeks behind.

“And players never catch up because that’s how tight of a race it is. Recharging, spending time with your family but understanding… teammates and the organization are counting on you to come back in full shape so the cream of our team rises to the top.”

This is a healthy team, with most or all players expected to be ready for training camp. Running back Raheem Mostert (Week 1 knee injury with the 49ers last season), expects to be ready for the opener.

Fullback Alec Ingold is making good progress from a Week 10 ACL injury for the Raiders last season.

“We’ve tried not to push the envelope,” McDaniel said. “The guys that have been hurt are accountable pros that want to play [even more] than we all want them to play. There is nothing that is concerning us at this point. I feel very fortunate. That’s to the credit of the players. They’re working diligently to protect each other while having fast pace practices.”

This story was originally published June 7, 2022 12:01 PM.

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Barry Jackson has written for the Miami Herald since 1986 and has written the Florida Sports Buzz column since 2002.

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