Off the best 10-game start in 21 years, the Dolphins look to match the 2001 team with an eighth win in 11 games against the visiting Texans. It feels like forever since that victory over Cleveland, so let's open the mailbag a little earlier than usual and talk about the matchup coming this weekend.
Each Thursday, we put out the call for questions on Twitter. This week, with the holiday, the thread went up on Tuesday. We choose three every week to be answered on the mailbag, as well as three for the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield and three more here on the written mailbag.
Question from @Billfrom Boynton – With the SF game and 3 game road trip looming, what is Coach doing to make sure this team doesn't overlook a game Houston team that has given the Giants, Eagles and Titans tough games?
A: Great question, Bill! I want to give you an excerpt from Coach McDaniel because, well, duh, but the first thing that comes to mind is philosophy of deliberate intention. He's been big on that and the refusal to short change the process by any measure. Each game is an opportunity, right? And, in this sport with just 17 regular season games, opportunities are fleeting, so I can't imagine he, this staff or this team takes any aspect of any day lightly.
Let's hear from Coach McDaniel on the fact that the Dolphins are sitting first in the AFC East entering Week 12.
"It's an accomplishment that isn't one that we're chasing, nor does it matter except in the moment and how you use it," said McDaniel. "So I'm happy with where we're at, I've been in first place and won the division after 10 weeks. And I've been in last place after 10 weeks and won the division. So it's neither here nor there. As long as we keep moving in the appropriate trajectory, I'll be good with it."
Question from @R2cb – Can we expect to see this defense mix in more zone blitzes now that Chubb is more acclimated to the defense?
A: There's no question that more time in this complex defensive system will improve Bradley Chubb and the entire unit's ability to play faster. I thought the Cleveland game was so encouraging because of the pressure they generated against one of the league's best offensive lines with minimal extra rushers called upon.
I think it helps more in the sense of the game packages Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer loves to call. This is a system that has always utilized stunts, slants and twists with great frequency and it's a big part of how the front operates together as a team to create chances for one another.
Boyer talked a little about the rush effort in the Cleveland game earlier this week.
"I think there were more opportunities out there where we were able to marry the coverage with the rush," said Boyer. "Sometimes, it's a coverage thing that helps the rush, and sometimes, it's a rush thing that helps the coverage. There's a lot of variables that go into it."
Question from @Phins_84 – Why do you think Mike McDaniel is having so much early success? Could he win the coach of the year
A: I'd say he's certainly in the running. If the wins keep coming then yes, it's absolutely a possibility. As for why the team is having so much success under his guidance, I would personally attribute it to his genuine, thoughtful approach to everything he does. There's no gimmicks; there's no false bravado. He's himself in every setting and I think that empowers the players and the entire organization to be themselves. From there, confidence grows and a belief in one another is established. He'll be the first to tell you though that this is a players game and the focus should be on the 53 guys in the locker room, not himself.
Everything this team wants to accomplish is in front of them. They're in a good position right now but there is still a lot of work to be done. If they can attack each game with the same level of vigor and deliberate intention, then they'll be in good shape.