MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel was back to business as usual on Monday.
McDaniel and the Dolphins had every right to be feeling good.
Miami defeated the New England Patriots 20-7 on Sunday, giving the 39-year-old McDaniel his first win as an NFL head coach.
Almost exactly 24 hours later, the rookie coach was already focused on the next task at hand.
The 1-0 Dolphins will hit the road this weekend to face the Baltimore Ravens and former league MVP Lamar Jackson.
McDaniel understands that the NFL season is a marathon and while wins are imperative, the games will come fast and furious, leaving little time to enjoy a victory in order to remain focused on the ultimate prize.
“If your goals are more than to just win a few games here or there, you take that feeling that you have on Sunday and you put it to bed because the best teams are the ones that continually progress throughout the whole season,” he said. “Today it was definitely throughout the whole building that guys were focused on getting better and improving before this Baltimore game, because I promise you Baltimore does not care, or Baltimore could care less about, our happy feelings on Sunday.”
McDaniel also spoke about Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
The third year QB had a solid game against New England, completing 23 of 33 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown.
That was good for a passer rating of 104.4.
“I was happy with Tua because he did a lot of things well, and then he got the taste of…there was some things that he wasn’t that fired up about,” McDaniel said.
He was likely referring to a few throws and decisions Tagovailoa would probably like to have back.
One example was a throw he made to Tyreek Hill late in the first half.
Hill had single coverage and Tagovailoa quickly threw up what became a jump ball between Hill and Patriots defensive back Jack Jones.
Jones appeared to have a surefire interception, but Hill reached to his right and with one hand snatched the ball away, making a spectacular catch on a drive that Miami ended up scoring its only offensive touchdown.
An interesting thing that McDaniel brought up on Monday was how there were times Tagovailoa was, as the coach put it, covering for him on the field when the coach took longer than he felt he should with getting the play calls to the quarterback.
“Those things I have no patience for for myself, and so I let the team know after the game and then as well as today, and you move forward with that,” McDaniel said.
Overall, McDaniel and Tagovailoa each understand that it’s still very much a learning process for both, and improvements as the season go on should be expected.
That being said, there was still plenty of positive to take away from Tua’s performance on Sunday.
“What I really liked was that he made plays in each quarter, because to me, that’s good quarterback play,” McDaniel said. “Because the hardest thing is between your ears to deal with this position in the National Football League. You have all this stuff going on. You have high expectations for yourself and for the offense and when it’s not – anytime you have a three-and-out or it’s kind of herky-jerky - you can get frustrated, and he found ways to make plays even after plays that he was frustrated at, which a lot had to do with me, so together we’ll keep moving forward and I’m excited to do so.”