When the Miami Dolphins hired Mike McDaniel, their social media team was on the private plane to easily shoot videos of his first FaceTime call with Tua Tagovailoa.
“My job is to coach you to get all that great out of you,” McDaniel said via MSN. “This is a great day for me, and I’ll damn sure make sure that if you look back on this day, you’ll think, ‘Damn, that was one of the best days of my career, too,’”
At the time, it seemed a little over the top, and maybe a little too optimistic. After all, if it had been up to Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, he would have Tom Brady as his QB. Or Deshaun Watson. That made it seem like McDaniel was stuck with Tagovailoa.
But McDaniel’s words weren’t some fake speech to his new quarterback when he got the job. He delivered.
McDaniel has been a fantastic asset and the main reason is that he gets the most out of Tagovailoa. The Dolphins are leading 7-0 in games Tagovailoa has started and ended, as they broke the Cleveland Browns 39-17 on Sunday. Technically, Tagovailoa didn’t finish Sunday’s game, but that’s because he had so many points ahead of the Dolphins. He saw Thompson mop up the final minutes of the blowout. Tagovailoa had 285 yards and three touchdowns.
It’s amazing that the dolphins wanted to give up Tagovailoa. Ross is not a good owner and he clearly didn’t want Tagovailoa. Ross was so down on Tagovailoa that he messed with Brady and was chosen to pick on the first round. Smart. Tagovailoa’s First Coach Brian Flores Reportedly wasn’t a big fan either. It’s hard to succeed in that environment.
What Tagovailoa needed was support. He needed a better line. He benefited greatly from the fact that the team got Tyreek Hill. And he really needed a coach who believed in him.
McDaniel pressed all the right buttons. He is a forward-thinking coach who knows how to make Hill and Jaylen Waddle look good. He plays with Tagovailoa’s strengths and has had a brilliant season from him so far. He said he hoped the day he was hired was also “one of the best days” of Tagovailoa’s career, and so far that has been absolutely true.
The dolphins have a very good season. They were a hot team early on after beating the Bills, but when they lost three games with backup quarterbacks, the buzz died down completely. They lost to the Bengals, Jets and Vikings, while Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson played most of those games, and they were competitive for most of those three games. It didn’t make sense why they were demoted for that losing streak.
It is well. Those who have watched the dolphins all season know that they are good. The rest of those who haven’t paid enough attention will come. Maybe that puts McDaniel in the Coach of the Year talk, where he belongs.
Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Week 10 of the NFL season:
Justin Fields, again, even in another loss: The quarterback game has largely lagged behind this season. That’s why a story like Fields is so much fun to follow.
Fields played a huge game last week and continued that momentum against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, even as the Bears lost a lead in the fourth quarter and lost 31-30.
Fields threw a terrible interception that was returned for a touchdown by Jeff Okudah, a game that would be huge in the outcome. That tied the game in the fourth quarter. Fields came right back with a 67-yard touchdown run. It was the kind of bounceback you want to see from a young quarterback.
Fields has yet to work on his late-game exploits. He had a chance to take the Bears to victory after the Lions took a 31-30 lead, but couldn’t get the drive going and was fired in fourth place with just under a minute to go. Fields wasn’t perfect and the fact that the Bears coughed up a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter wasn’t great. But you can’t blame Fields for the missed extra point in the fourth quarter or the defense that no one is holding back. Fields’ play is positive in an otherwise bad Bears season.
Fields is emerging as a star. He runs the ball electrically. He’s not great as a passer yet, but a lot of that has to do with the lack of talent around him. As a passer-by, he shows enough that it is easy to buy his development in the long term. The Bears lost on Sunday and Fields played a part in that. But overall, Bears fans should be very excited.
Patrick Mahomes’ MVP Case: Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts and maybe even Tua Tagovailoa and others are still in the running, but it looks more like Mahomes is going to lose a trophy.
Mahomes was great again on Sunday in the Kansas City Chiefs’ 27-17 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Mahomes has been great this season as usual, even without Tyreek Hill. He led the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns before Week 10 began. He added 331 passing yards and four touchdowns on Sunday. Mahomes was the best player in the NFL this season. There is still a long way to go this season, but it looks like he will win another MVP.
Tom Brady and Julio Jones: It’s been a tough season for the older Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But they’re likely going to win the NFC South, and a 21-16 win over the Seattle Seahawks in Germany showed they’re still capable of fleeing.
The biggest play in the win was a 31-yard touchdown from Brady to Jones, in which a miscommunication in coverage by the Seahawks defense opened an orbit to the end zone for Jones. Jones struggled with injuries for most of the season. Brady, who threw 258 yards on Sunday, was okay, but not his usual great self. It’s been a tough year for the Buccaneers. But a win in Germany certainly helps.
Russell Wilson and the Broncos’ momentum: The Denver Broncos won a game and then parted ways. They had a chance to kick start this season with a win at the Tennessee Titans.
But again, the same old problems came up. Denver’s attack did very little in a 17-10 loss to the Titans. The only touchdown was a 66-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Virgil on his first career catch in the second quarter. Denver didn’t get a touchdown in the 38 minutes that followed. Wilson threw a fourth-down interception with 11 seconds left to end it.
Denver is in rough shape. Wilson has been bad all season. The violation was, apart from very short sprints, incalculable. Coach Nathaniel Hackett doesn’t feel good about his future with the team’s 3-6 start. If Denver had scored just once in Sunday’s second half, they could have had a season-changing win. Wilson and the Broncos couldn’t even handle that.
Brandin Cooks and the Houston Texans: Cooks was not happy that he was not traded by the TBEN, but was banned last week due to “personal reasons”. He came back this week. He was probably reminded why he was angry in the first place.
The Texans are a bad team going nowhere. They lost 24-16 to the New York Giants. They had some chances, but two fourth quarter turnovers deep in Giants territory ruined their shot. That’s what bad teams do.
It’s inexplicable that the Texans haven’t found a way to trade cooks. His $18 million salary next year was reportedly the biggest problem, but that’s on the Texans because they don’t do more to facilitate a transaction. It will be a long rest of the season for Cooks.
Andy Dalton and the Saints: You have to wonder if the New Orleans Saints will return to Jameis Winston. It’s not like Dalton is holding them up.
Dalton got off to a very slow start on Sunday, with just 174 passing yards. The Saints scored just one touchdown in a 20-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Dalton got the job when Winston was injured and kept it. But the Saints are 3-7 after Sunday’s defeat. There’s no reason to keep trying with Dalton. There’s also no good reason to try Winston again, but chances are it will someday.