So here’s the stuff about new Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel other people seem to care about …
The lawsuit: The best question of the entire presser was whether the issues raised by the Brian Flores racial discrimination lawsuit against the Dolphins and entire NFL raise red flags in McDaniel’s mind?
“Red flags, I can honestly say there were no red flags,” McDaniel said. “And the reason why was because I was stepping into an organization with a boss that I don’t think give it its proper due.
“Stephen Ross, there’s a lot of people in professional sports that are out to make money. And, I can’t lie, I feel if I spent that much money, I’d want to make a lot of money. But when I walked in that door, you look at every single detail within this building, you look at the people that are hired, you look at all the [inaudible] and 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 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.”
His race: His father is black and his mother is white, and he says they saw racism from multiple sides when they got together.
But the idea of him “identifying” as black or white or whatever is strange to him.
“It’s been very odd, to tell you the truth, this idea of ‘identifying’ as something,” McDaniel said Thursday during his introductory press conference. “I think people identify me as something, but I identity 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 because I think you identify me as something close to — I don’t know.
“I know my mom experienced it when she married my dad. I know my dad experienced it, that’s in my family. But I guess that makes me a human being that can identify with other people’s problems.”
This answer won’t satisfy people who see race in everything, but I believe it’s a great answer.
His plans for the Dolphins’ offense: It hasn’t been a top 10 scoring unit since 2001, and McDaniel’s going to call the plays.
That means the Dolphins will have a rookie head coach and rookie offensive play-caller because he’s never been either in the NFL.
I believe that’s a mistake. The head coach has enough on his plate managing the game and the team when he’s experienced.
McDaniel will be doing that for the first time. And calling plays?
The only saving grace to this is he plans to have help.
“One thing that I’ve noticed in my journey is that successful play-callers don’t isolate themselves — they utilize the people around them,” McDaniel said. “That’s what a head coach should do. I’m not up here doing anything by myself, or I won’t be after this press conference ends, I’m not going to be going into a hole and hanging out by myself and thinking about stuff.
“You’re working with people. So the higher your leadership, with regard to a head coach, the more you have to lead. As an offensive coordinator, you call plays. But if you’re a head coach and calling plays, you better be reliant and feel very good about the people on your offensive staff.”
Structure: Club owner Stephen Ross outlined the structure for the Dolphins on the football side, and it was no different than it was under previous coach Brian Flores with the coach reporting to general manager Chris Grier and Grier reporting to Ross.
The fact, however, is that Flores got hired and soon asserted his alpha personality over Grier’s beta personality to supersede Grier in authority over football matters.
So Flores wanted to trade Minkah Fitzpatrick, Grier did it, although he selected Fitzpatrick in the first round the previous year.
Flores wanted staffers fired or hired, Grier acquiesced even when he didn’t agree.
McDaniel doesn’t seem like that alpha guy, to be frank. He’s kind of an odd duck. So there doesn’t seem to be an issue on this front in the offing.
And now the thing I care about, which is McDaniel’s ability to lead.
I don’t know if he can or cannot. I know he hasn’t had to do it for an entire football team before, so he’s going to have to learn in a hurry.
Some past Dolphins coaches were successful doing that (Tony Sparano, Nick Saban, Flores, Adam Gase). And others were not (Cam Cameron, Joe Philbin).
I will say, based on watching his presser, McDaniel doesn’t exactly captivate. He doesn’t own a room.
He was clearly nervous early during his presser and admitted it was “an emotional day for me.”
He said, “This is odd because you’re getting all hyped up for a media session and then we just go back and study film, put coaching staffs together, and then get ready to practice. Hopefully, we teach the players what the plays are before we do that. That whole process, although it’s anti-climatic, it is part of it, and I can’t express the gratitude to everyone to allow me to be up here and be part of it. And there’s no better time to start this process than right now.”
No idea what he was going for there, but it was good he plans to teach the players the plays before they practice.
He said the Dolphins facilities epitomizes Ross’s vision and “that vision is broad, it’s grand and it’s trying to be great. And that’s what I’m here to get the football to. And that’s what we’ll do.”
So, yes, the public speaking thing needs a little cleaning up, which is important because a team’s head coach must communicate to a large group of people and do it so clearly and unambiguously that everyone totally understands the message and gets eager and excited about the agenda.
Otherwise you have teams starting slow or quitting late.
On the positive side, McDaniel doesn’t think his presence and how others view him as a leader will be a problem because he has a plan of action for that.
“…You find out it’s the simplest formula ever known to man, something you guys can all relate to, and it’s why all this conversation about ‘Will people listen or will he lead and stuff’ it’s a very simple formula,” McDaniel said.
“You establish with them early that you can help them with their dream. If you can establish with them you have value toward their goal, I mean, they have unbelievable pressure on them, with a career span they know is finite. So if anybody can help them toward their ultimate goal of being on an NFL player, which is their identity, staying on an NFL team, making their career last longer, making money for their family and doing things that are bigger than themselves, they’ll listen to anybody with a pulse if you can help them.”
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