Mike McDaniel faced his first big decision as the new Miami Dolphins on Sunday against the New England Patriots.
Miami led 10-0 with 24 seconds remaining in the first half, facing a fourth-and-7 from the New England 42-yard line. Instead of opting for a likely half-ending punt, McDaniel decided to go for it.
Tua Tagovailoa hit Jaylen Waddle over the middle, and the speedster dashed for a 42-yard score to put the Fins up 17-0 before coasting to a 20-7 victory.
“He’s going to need a wheelbarrow for his nuts to carry around, because he’s got a lot of cojones,” receiver Tyreek Hill colorfully commented of the call, via the Miami Herald.
An incompletion could have given the Patriots a last-second chance at a long field goal to pull within a score. McDaniel’s decision to stay aggressive played well in the locker room.
“That’s gusty, man. That’s tough,” offensive tackle Terron Armstead said. “We love it, we take that as a challenge, we take that as confidence. He has the confidence in us to execute and we went out and it was a huge play in the game to get points before [halftime], come back out with the ball, so that’s a gutsy call in your first game as a head coach.”
In 2021, Miami tied for the fewest fourth-down attempts with 22. Off the bat, McDaniel showed he’s willing to take more risks.
“I love it,” Tagovailoa said. “He has the utmost confidence in the entire offense. That’s why.”
McDaniel earned his first career win in Week 1 against Bill Belichick, who entered the game with 321 career wins (including playoffs) — the most opposing head coach wins in NFL history in a game won by a head coach making his debut, per NFL Research.
Good morning! #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/Z3g4cIwMj3
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