New Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel has been hard at work putting together his first coaching staff. With the full staff now in place, there are a few themes that stand out about the group McDaniel has assembled: coaching experience, playing experience and player relationships.
In addition to retaining 25 years of NFL experience in the running backs room (Eric Studesville), 19 years with special teams coordinator Danny Crossman and 16 years with defensive coordinator Josh Boyer, McDaniel also added new veteran NFL coaching experience to the group. Quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Darrell Bevell has spent 21 years coaching in the league, including coaching some notable quarterbacks, and assistant head coach/tight ends John Embree adds another 13 years of NFL experience.
McDaniel has also added several former players to his staff, most notably three beloved former Dolphins – cornerbacks/pass game specialist Sam Madison, defensive assistant Patrick Surtain and wide receivers coach Wes Welker – who bring a wealth of knowledge to the players at their respective positions. Several other coaches, including safeties coach Steve Gregory, assistant offensive line coach Lemuel Jeanpierre, outside linebackers coach Ty McKenzie and many of the offensive/defensive assistants on staff, also bring NFL playing experience and the unique perspective it provides to the table.
Finally, McDaniel has emphasized the importance of relationships in his short tenure as head coach of the Dolphins. This was apparent in his opening press conference and early media rounds, and he has clearly valued the existing relationships between players and coaches in Miami. McDaniel kept the bulk of the defensive staff together – a group which helped produce one of the NFL's top defenses last season. He's also retained the special teams group and several coaches on offense, providing continuity for the players. And McDaniel did all of this while adding an exciting batch of new, experienced and talented faces to the staff.
Before we jump in to learn more about the newcomers, here are some fun facts about the Dolphins 2022 coaching staff:
- The Dolphins staff features 183 combined years of NFL coaching experience
- In total, between high school, college and NFL, the Dolphins staff has more than 300 combined years of coaching experience
- The 2022 Dolphins staff has coached five Super Bowl-winning teams
Here is the skinny on the newcomers (primary position coaches and coordinators):
Offensive Coordinator - Frank Smith
Previous: Chargers OL and Run Game Coordinator, 2021
NFL Coaching Experience: 12 years (18 total)
The Chargers run game and line play improved drastically after Smith's 2021 arrival, including a 20 percent reduction in QB pressures from 2020 (201 to 161). The Chargers pass-blocking efficiency (a Pro Football Focus metric) improved from 28th in the NFL all the way up to fifth-best while the Chargers rushed for 4.3 yards per carry compared to 3.8 a year prior.
Smith has been instrumental in player development. He's coached in rooms that included tackle Rashawn Slater, tight end Darren Waller, tackle Terron Armstead, guard Jahri Evans and guard Carl Nicks.
Quarterbacks and Passing Game Coordinator - Darrell Bevell
Previous: Jaguars OC, 2021
NFL Coaching Experience: 21 years (25 total)
Bevell's proximity to All-Pros and accomplished quarterbacks is beyond noteworthy as he will lead the Dolphins quarterback room. Aaron Rodgers credits Bevell for correcting some of his basic fundamentals as a rookie. Former Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin specifically thanked Bevell in a retirement tweet and quarterback Russell Wilson reportedly had an impact behind Bevell's appointment in Jacksonville.
Bevell has overseen top-10 offenses six different times in his career. He's been an integral part of the development of unique players like Percy Harvin, Jermaine Wiggins, Chester Taylor, Kenny Golladay and countless others.
Assistant Head Coach/Tight Ends - Jon Embree
Previous: 49ers TEs/Asst. HC, 2017-2021
NFL Coaching Experience: 13 years (30 total)
Embree continues the trend of newly hired Dolphins coaches with a lengthy list of players who enjoyed some of the best years of their career under their direction. Tony Gonzalez, Chris Cooley, Fred Davis, Jordan Cameron, Cameron Brate and George Kittle all had outstanding seasons under Embree over an illustrious career coaching tight ends.
Wide Receivers - Wes Welker
Previous: 49ers WR, 2019-2021
NFL Coaching Experience: 5 years (all NFL)
49ers All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel didn't hesitate to say, "Wes Welker," when asked who could be the next Mike McDaniel in coaching circles. Look no further than Samuel's 2021 season for the reasoning -- 1,770 yards from scrimmage and 14 total touchdowns in a breakout campaign.
Following a Hall of Fame worthy playing career, Welker is off to a smashing start to his coaching career overseeing big seasons from Samuel, Kendrick Bourne and Brandon Aiyuk.
Welker joins Sam Madison as the 12th and 13th persons in franchise history to both play and coach for the Dolphins as Welker played three seasons (2004-06) for Miami.
Offensive Line - Matt Applebaum
Previous: Boston College OL, 2020-2021
NFL Coaching Experience: 4 years (14 total)
Coach McDaniel harps on his desire for great teachers among his coaching staff. New Offensive Line Coach Matt Applebaum is a big proponent of teaching and finding methods to effectively communicate with this players.
Last season, the Boston College offensive line graded No. 2 overall in all of college football per Pro Football Focus. That same line is expected to produce three future draft picks in Zion Johnson, Alec Lindstrom and Tyler Vrabel.
Outside Linebackers - Ty McKenzie
Previous: Colts Coaching Fellow, 2021
NFL Coaching Experience: 5 years (9 total)
McKenzie's first NFL job was under the legendary John "Bones" Fassel with the Los Angeles Rams. After one year in that role, Mike Vrabel made McKenzie the first Inside Linebackers Coach of his Tennessee tenure where he oversaw the development of Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown.
McKenzie is not afraid to lead by example, as seen below.
Cornerbacks/Pass Game Specialist - Sam Madison
Previous: Chiefs DBs, 2019-2021
NFL Coaching Experience: 3 years (all NFL)
One of the legends of the franchise is coming home. With 38 career interceptions, 10 forced fumbles and 103 passes defensed, Madison made all four of his Pro Bowls and four All-Pro teams as a member of the Miami Dolphins. He's since added two rings, one as a player with the Giants and one as a coach with Chiefs.
In that role with Kansas City, Madison has coached in three-consecutive AFC Championship games, reaching two Super Bowls and winning one. Perhaps his most impressive feather is coaching 2020 fourth-round cornerback L'Jarius Snead to the PFWA All-Rookie team in lieu of 19 cornerbacks who came off the draft board before Snead heard his name called.
Madison also coached Tyrann Mathieu an All-Pro campaign in 2020. The future Hall of Fame defensive back had this to say about Madison's coaching:
Safeties – Steve Gregory
Previous: Dolphins Coaching Assistant, 2021
NFL Coaching Experience: 4 years (5 total)
While Gregory is not new to the coaching staff – he spent 2021 as a defensive assistant – his role directing the safety group is a promotion. He's played and coached in previous variations of the Dolphins current system, including a stint as a player with the Patriots and current Dolphins Defensive Coordinator, Josh Boyer.
The Lions selected cornerback Amani Oruwariye in the fifth-round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Upon Gregory's arrival, Owuwariye developed into the Lions full-time starter and has seven interceptions and 21 passes defensed the last two seasons.
Click here for comprehensive bios on the 2022 Dolphins staff.
You can also hear more in-depth breakdowns of the coaching staff on the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield, available wherever you get your podcasts.