Mike McDaniel

Dolphins Undecided On Tua Tagovailoa’s Fifth-Year Option

After making a number of sizeable moves last offseason, the Dolphins are unlikely to be active with respect to outside additions in 2023. The team does face a crucial internal decision with respect to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, however, and nothing has been committed to at this point.

As a first-round pick in 2020, Miami must decide on picking up Tagovailoa’s fifth-year option this year. The deadline for doing so is May 1, but the team may wait until very near that point to to pick up or decline it. When speaking about the subject publicly, head coach Mike McDaniel indicated that the Dolphins would be well-served to consider every option, though he did add that “both parties want him to play at a high level for a very long time for the Miami Dolphins” (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe).

Picking up Tagovailoa’s option would carry a cost of $23.17MM for the 2024 campaign. That figure would represent a bargain for starting-caliber QB play, especially considering the step forward the 25-year-old took under McDaniel this past season. Tagovailoa set career-highs across several categories in 2022, and led the league in passer rating and yards per attempt. Keeping him in place for at least the next two years would seem like a simple decision based on his production alone.

The Dolphins must keep in mind, of course, Tagovailoa’s injury history, something which complicates the situation. The Alabama product suffered at least two (potentially three) concussions in the 2022 season, which kept him sidelined for team’s postseason push and wild-card round loss to the Bills. He had a lengthy stay in the league’s concussion protocol after the Dolphins had been eliminated, something which has left some to seriously doubt his long-term playing future. Tagovailoa has since publicly praised the team’s decision to force him to sit out as a precaution, and is planning on taking new steps to better protect himself in the future.

Given his availability concerns, Miami would be wise to at least explore possible alternatives, and Josina Anderson of CBS Sports reports that the team is doing just that (video link). One of several options being weighed, she states, includes “potentially moving in a different direction” than Tagovailoa, something which would mark a highly underwhelming development given the recent draft capital invested in him.

Miami added veteran Teddy Bridgewater as a backup last offseason, but he dealt with multiple injuries of his own over the course of the year. Seventh-round rookie Skylar Thompson was called into action for two regular season games and the postseason contest, but a long-term starting option would need to be found in the absence of Tagovailoa next season. The Dolphins’ 2023 draft capital – hindered by last year’s tampering scandal – would not be sufficient to land one the class’ top passers as a developmental QB, which could point to Tagovailoa’s option being the safest option in the near-term to build off of 2022’s success.

Latest On Vic Fangio

The Dolphins appeared to make a significant addition to their coaching staff yesterday, coming to terms on a deal with Vic Fangio to make him their new defensive coordinator. Contrary to what some have since reported, though, the move does not appear to be official at this point.

When speaking to Fangio himself, both 9News’ Mike Klis and Michael Silver of the San Francisco Chronicle were told that a deal is not, in fact, in place yet (Twitter links). In the latter’s case, Fangio stated that “nothing has been decided on my end,” a reference to his commitment to head to Miami. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that his Dolphins contract is three years in length (with a team option for a fourth year) and will make him the league’s highest-paid coordinator.

Fangio, 64, was always likely to be a hot commodity on the DC market when he made it clear he would return to coaching in 2023. The former Broncos head coach had previously stated his intention of taking on a coordinator position, rather than another HC opportunity. Over the course of his decorated career, he established himself as a one of the game’s top defensive minds in terms of scheme and play-calling, as well as one with connections all over the league.

The Panthers were tapped as a likely destination for Fangio in the wake of their Frank Reich hiring. It was reported early today, to no surprise, that Carolina was willing to meet his financial demands, though even in the uncertainty regarding his future they are no longer expected to pursue him. That could make another notable DC vacancy one to keep an eye on in this situation.

Silver notes the “huge amount” of respect shared between 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and Fangio. The latter served as San Francisco’s DC from 2011-14, and it was reported in the fall that a return to the Bay Area could be in the cards. The 49ers have enjoyed elite play on the defensive side of the ball under current coordinator DeMeco Ryans, but he has been one of the top HC candidates this offseason and is widely expected to soon become the Texans’ new bench boss. His departure could open the door for Fangio to replace him, should the Miami agreement fall through.

On that point, Pelissero’s colleague Cameron Wolfe tweets that Fangio had been a target of Dolphins HC Mike McDaniel before he even began his tenure with the team this past season. That underscores the desire the Dolphins have long had to bring him onboard, though it remains to be seen if they have officially done so this offseason.

Dolphins DC Josh Boyer On Hot Seat?

The Dolphins have dropped five straight and find themselves out of the postseason picture, a major disappointment for an organization that was looking to take a step forward this season. Heads will surely roll if Miami fails to qualify for the playoffs, and a source told Armando Salguero of Outkick.com that defensive coordinator Josh Boyer could be a casualty.

Boyer’s job status could somewhat be connected to that of Mike McDaniel, with Salguero noting that if the head coach survives the offseason, then there’s no guarantee Boyer sticks in his position. Boyer was a holdover from Brian Flores’ staff, so it wouldn’t be surprising if McDaniel looks to shake things up with his own defensive coordinator. Even then, if McDaniel is canned following the season, there’s little chance Boyer would manage to stick around with a third head coach.

Boyer joined the NFL coaching ranks with the Patriots, where he worked his way up from defensive assistant to cornerbacks coach. He joined Flores in Miami in 2019 and earned the title of defensive pass game coordinator, and he was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2020. After ranking top-1o in points allowed during his first season at the helm, the Dolphins dropped to 16th in 2021 and 27th this season. The defense has been especially bad during the team’s current streak; after allowing around 23 points per game during their 8-3 start, opponents have averaged more than 30 points per game during the active five-game losing streak.

The defensive coordinator’s fate will be one of many decisions for Dolphins executives to make in anticipation of the offseason. Salguero explored the job security of McDaniel in particular, with the writer wondering if the coach has done enough to prevent the organization from pursuing someone like Sean Payton. The Dolphins will also have to make a decision on Tua Tagovailoa, with Salguero noting that owner Stephen Ross would be interested in Aaron Rodgers if the veteran QB was willing to play in Miami.

NFL Does Not Suspect Violation In Connection With Dolphins Practice Being Filmed

Hurricane Ian prompted the Buccaneers to move practices to Miami this week, and the Dolphins accommodated the other south Florida team by leaving for Cincinnati early. The 3-0 squad appears to have run into a bit of an issue after holding a practice away from home.

The Dolphins became suspicious of someone filming their Wednesday practice in Cincinnati, and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes NFL Security is investigating this matter (Twitter link). The NFL does not suspect a competitive violation occurred, Mark Maske of the Washington Post tweets.

Nevertheless, Mike McDaniel apparently tried to outwit potential spies. Noticing enough onlookers watching practice — which was held at Nippert Stadium, the Cincinnati Bearcats’ home field — McDaniel put a 12th player on offense during his team’s walkthrough, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

This certainly adds a fun twist to a potential scandal, though this has not reached the scandal stage yet. Nippert Stadium also sits in the middle of Cincinnati’s campus and has vantage points for onlookers, The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. tweets. The stadium’s placement and the Dolphins’ inclusion of a 12th man on various plays makes would seemingly make for a less productive walkthrough.

Ohio served as the location of a filming controversy not too long ago. Patriots staffers, during an effort to capture footage for a video piece for the team’s website, filmed B-roll of the Bengals sideline during a 2019 game in Cleveland. A Bengals staffer alerted the NFL, which docked the Pats a 2021 third-round pick and fined the team $1.1MM. It does not sound like similar penalties will be forthcoming in connection with the Dolphins’ suspicions, but this could be an interesting footnote ahead of Thursday night’s AFC showdown.

The NFL’s Longest-Tenured Head Coaches

The NFL experienced a busy offseason on the coaching front. A whopping 10 teams changed coaches during the 2022 offseason, with the Buccaneers’ late-March switch pushing the number into double digits.

Fourteen of the league’s 32 head coaches were hired in the past two offseasons, illustrating the increased pressure the NFL’s sideline leaders face in today’s game. Two of the coaches replaced this year left on their own. Sean Payton vacated his spot in second on the longest-tenured HCs list by stepping down from his 16-year Saints post in February, while Bruce Arians has repeatedly insisted his Bucs exit was about giving his defensive coordinator a chance with a strong roster and not a Tom Brady post-retirement power play.

While Bill Belichick has been the league’s longest-tenured HC for many years, Payton’s exit moved Mike Tomlin up to No. 2. Mike Zimmer‘s firing after nine seasons moved Frank Reich into the top 10. Reich’s HC opportunity only came about because Josh McDaniels spurned the Colts in 2018, but Indianapolis’ backup plan has led the team to two playoff brackets and has signed an extension. Reich’s seat is hotter in 2022, however, after a January collapse. Linked to numerous HC jobs over the past several offseasons, McDaniels finally took another swing after his Broncos tenure ended quickly.

As 2022’s training camps approach, here are the NFL’s longest-tenured HCs:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007; extended through 2024
  3. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008; extended through 2025
  4. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010; extended through 2025
  5. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013; extended through 2025
  6. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017; extended through 2025
  7. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017; extended through 2023
  8. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017; extended through 2025
  9. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018; signed extension in February 2022
  10. Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts): February 11, 2018; extended through 2026
  11. Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2019; extended through 2027
  12. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019
  13. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019; extended through 2026
  14. Ron Rivera (Washington Football Team): January 1, 2020
  15. Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers): January 7, 2020
  16. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  17. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020
  18. Robert Saleh (New York Jets): January 15, 2021
  19. Arthur Smith (Atlanta Falcons): January 15, 2021
  20. Brandon Staley (Los Angeles Chargers): January 17, 2021
  21. Dan Campbell (Detroit Lions): January 20, 2021
  22. Nick Sirianni (Philadelphia Eagles): January 21, 2021
  23. Nathaniel Hackett (Denver Broncos): January 27, 2022
  24. Matt Eberflus (Chicago Bears): January 27, 2022
  25. Brian Daboll (New York Giants): January 28, 2022
  26. Josh McDaniels (Las Vegas Raiders): January 30, 2022
  27. Kevin O’Connell (Minnesota Vikings): February 2, 2022
  28. Doug Pederson (Jacksonville Jaguars): February 3, 2022
  29. Mike McDaniel (Miami Dolphins): February 6, 2022
  30. Dennis Allen (New Orleans Saints): February 7, 2022
  31. Lovie Smith (Houston Texans): February 7, 2022
  32. Todd Bowles (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): March 30, 2022

Latest On Dolphins’ Mike Gesicki

One of the top storylines in Miami is how the team’s offense will grow under new head coach Mike McDaniel. Before the team takes the field for the first time with him in charge, though, the organization will have to decide if it wants to retain tight end Mike Gesickiand how much they are willing to pay to do so. As The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson writes, scheme fit with the new coach could play a big role in the decision. 

Before the 2021 season started, it was reported that the Dolphins weren’t looking into an extension with the former second round pick. At that point, he was coming off a career-best season, where he posted 53 catches for 703 yards and six touchdowns. That placed him amongst the most productive tight ends in the league, and set him up for another successful season.

2021 saw the Penn State product record 73 catches for 780 yards and two touchdowns in 17 games. The reception and yardage totals ranked fifth and eighth in the league, respectively. The season also cemented Gesicki’s status as quarterback Tua Tagovailoa‘s second favorite target, behind rookie Jaylen Waddle.

However, most of Gesicki’s production has come from lining up more as a wide receiver than a tight end, Jackson notes. Much of the reason for that is his sub-par blocking, both in the run and pass game, something that could be seen as a detriment for McDaniel, who is coming from a run-heavy scheme in San Francisco. The stylistic difference between Gesicki and George Kittle, whom McDaniel coached for years, could be problematic in terms of working the former into a new scheme in Miami.

More importantly, in the short term at least, Gesicki’s alignment could lead to problems in negotiations. He could attempt to be listed as a WR, rather than a TE for franchise tag purposes, something that would carry a difference of roughly $8MM. While Jackson notes that the odds of such a strategy working aren’t great, compromises are possible. If he were to sign on the TE tag, Gesicki would earn an estimated $10.8MM in 2022.

Ultimately, Jackson writes of Gesicki that “it wouldn’t be shocking if the Dolphins kept him”. Given his production, and the overall lack of weapons Miami currently has, tough, the uncertainty around his situation so close to free agency is certainly striking.

Dolphins To Hire Jon Embree As Assistant Head Coach

It appears the first addition to Mike McDaniel‘s staff in Miami will be a familiar face. Miami is hiring Jon Embree under the twin roles of assistant head coach and tight ends coach, according to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle.

[Related: Dolphins Hire Mike McDaniel As Head Coach]

Embree has been an NFL coach dating back to 2006. He is most well known for coaching tight ends, the role he served in Kansas City, Washington, Cleveland and Tampa Bay prior to joining San Francisco in 2017. There, he not only coached the unit featuring George Kittle, but also worked alongside McDaniel, who was hired by the Dolphins earlier this week. Embree also had the assistant head coach title he will be retaining in Miami.

The success Kittle has had under Embree’s tutelage has garnered the 56-year-old plenty of praise around the league. That translated to interest from the Broncos, who interviewed him to be their TEs coach prior to this hire.

It surprised many that Embree was even available to leave the Bay Area to begin with. His contact expired at the end of the season, and he declined to take a significant pay cut to remain with the 49ers. Instead, San Francisco hired ex-Chargers’ HC Anthony Lynn to serve as assistant head coach. As Branch notes, the 49ers have yet to hire a new TEs coach.

2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Last year, seven NFL teams opted to make a head coaching change. Sean Payton stepping away from the Saints created nine full-time vacancies available this year.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 2-7-22 (1:45pm CT)

Chicago Bears

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Coaching Rumors: Saints, Texans, McDaniel, Giants, Broncos

The Saints began their cycle of head coaching interviews this week, conducting meetings with the following candidates: former Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson (1/30; hired by Jaguars), former Dolphins’ head coach Brian Flores (2/1), Lions’ defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn (2/2), their current special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi (2/3), their current defensive coordinator Dennis Allen (2/4), and Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy (2/6).

New Orleans also requested permission to interview Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. There were some early reports that permission had been granted, but that hasn’t been confirmed and nothing has been scheduled, as of yet. ESPN’s Saints’ reporter Mike Triplett also mentioned that current offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael was offered an opportunity to interview for the position, but Carmichael declined. Despite being a part of Sean Payton‘s staff since Payton’s tenure in New Orleans began back in 2006, it appears Carmichael has no interest in running the show in the Big Easy. Whether he has retirement or another destination in mind or he is just comfortable in his role, Carmichael will not be the Saints’ next head coach.

Here are a few more notes from the ongoing coaching searches and staff changes throughout the NFL, starting with the other head coaching vacancy:

  • Houston recently narrowed their list of head coaching candidates down to three: Brian Flores, former quarterback Josh McCown, and Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. Well, according to USA Today’s Josina Anderson, the Texans are now down to two candidates, with Gannon being informed Saturday that he will not be receiving the head coaching position, leaving Flores and McCown as the two remaining names.
  • New Dolphins’ head coach Mike McDaniel reportedly has interest in holding on to some of the defensive assistants currently under contract in Miami, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. This includes current defensive coordinator Josh Boyer, who followed Flores to Miami from New England. The lack of staff turnover would be a positive for a defensive unit that played well during the team’s seven-game win-streak in the back half of the season.
  • The Giants were able to add a piece to Brian Daboll‘s new staff while missing out on another today. ESPN’s Jordan Raanan tweeted out that Andy Bischoff will become the Giants’ new tight ends coach. Bischoff followed David Culley from Baltimore to Houston and will make the lateral move over from the Texans with their head coaching position still in the air. Unfortunately, the Giants did not get their running backs coach, as Bruce Feldman of The Athletic tweeted out that Deland McCullough has turned down Daboll’s offer, choosing instead to remain the running backs coach at Notre Dame, believing it gives him the best opportunity to eventually become a head coach.
  • New Broncos’ head coach Nathaniel Hackett is also looking to fill out his staff. The Broncos are planning to interview Jon Embree who most recently held the position of tight ends coach/assistant head coach in San Francisco. Embree parted ways with the Niners after being asked to take a 60 percent pay cut after San Francisco’s NFC Championship loss. The man who has coached George Kittle since he was drafted in 2017 would be a nice addition to Hackett’s system.

Dolphins Hire Mike McDaniel As Head Coach

The Dolphins have announced that they’ve agreed to terms to make 49ers’ offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel their next head coach (Twitter).

McDaniel recently had his second interview with Miami on Friday. Fox Sports Writer Peter Schrager reported that the interview lasted for 10 hours.
McDaniel was one of two candidates to receive a second interview with the Dolphins as Cowboys’ offensive coordinator Kellen Moore interviewed yesterday. With Moore not getting the job, it looks like Dallas will keep both coordinators as Moore has not been mentioned as a contender for the Saints’ or Texans’ jobs and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has informed teams that he is remaining in Dallas.

McDaniel is a longtime Kyle Shanahan-staffer, following Shanahan from Atlanta to San Francisco. Following Mike LaFleur‘s departure to join Robert Saleh on the Jets, McDaniel was promoted to offensive coordinator.

The 2021 NFL season was McDaniel’s first and only year as an offensive coordinator at any level. He first entered the NFL as an intern for the Broncos in 2004. He spent three years as an offensive assistant in Houston before taking the position of running backs coach for Sacramento’s short-lived UFL team. McDaniel re-entered the NFL ranks an an offensive assistant in Washington for two years before getting promoted to wide receivers coach. He spent one season in that position in Washington followed by a season holding the same position in Cleveland before heading to Atlanta to become an offensive assistant under Shanahan.

The 38-year-old’s rise has been meteoric since joining Shanahan. After two years in Atlanta, McDaniel became Shanahan’s run game coordinator in San Francisco for four seasons before finally getting his shot last year at offensive coordinator. McDaniel didn’t call plays for the 49ers, but he did draw up the running plays and coordinate a running game that ranked in the top-10 despite losing Raheem Mostert in Week 1 and missing Elijah Mitchell for 6 games this year.

With Brian Flores‘ lawsuit against the NFL, Dolphins, Giants, and Broncos alleging racial discrimination, much attention will likely be paid to the fact that McDaniel identifies as multiracial, making him the first minority coaching candidate to be hired in this year’s cycle. The 49ers will receive two third-round compensatory picks as a result of the hire.

With Miami securing their man, there are now only two teams remaining who are without a head coach: the Texans and Saints. Keep up with the last remaining coaching searches on our 2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker.