Amidst his first full offseason as Dolphins head coach, Mike McDaniel spoke Monday at the NFL's annual meetings and touched on a number of subjects from new signings to the team's expectations heading into the 2023 season.
With a lot of excitement brewing in the AFC East this season, McDaniel acknowledged the challenges that lie ahead as well as the benefits that come with playing a strong regular season schedule.
"Getting to the playoffs is cool. (But we are) over that. You want to win. And so playing good teams in the regular season however on the front end might seem, 'oh, that's tough.' What else would you want if you're really trying to actually win playoff games? If you're trying to actually get to the AFC Championship, if you're trying to win the AFC Championship, if you're trying to win the Super Bowl? All those things, you better be a very good team and battle tested and our division should help us do that."
One major step towards making consecutive playoff appearances for the first time since a five-year run from 1997-2001 is the continued offensive success behind starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Tagovailoa posted a league-best 105.5 passer rating and led the Dolphins' sixth-ranked offense that gained 364.5 yards per game.
In addition to re-signing running backs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr., Tagovailoa and McDaniel now have another weapon to work with in newly acquired wide receiver Braxton Berrios.
"I like a lot of things about Braxton," McDaniel said. "I like that he's a playmaker. I think the more assets that we have in terms of being able to make plays with the ball in their hands. You guys know I feel like we have an elite distributor in Tua (Tagovailoa). So if you have scorers, to use a basketball reference, I see Braxton as a scorer, a guy that can make plays with the ball in his hands."
Berrios joins a talented receiving corps led by wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Hill became a Dolphin in 2022 and immediately set new franchise records in single season receiving yards (1,710) and receptions (119).
Now, McDaniel and the Dolphins have acquired another star from the NFC West in three-time first-team All-Pro defensive back Jalen Ramsey, and are looking forward to the impact he'll make on the defense.
"We're elated to add a player whose competitiveness – my big thing is you add players that can make the rest of your team better. When players can make other people better, you're onto something. Very excited for him and his ability to do that, the competitiveness that he'll bring to the secondary and really overall excited about the person and the player and the element that he provides for our defense."
Ramsey, who McDaniel describes as having a "magnetic" personality, will join fellow defensive newcomers LB David Long Jr., LB Malik Reed and S DeShon Elliott in a rejuvenated defense under first-year defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
"Working with Vic since he's been here has definitely validated everything that I thought when I made the decision to really target him as the defensive coordinator. I spent, I think it's probably 20, about 20 hours a week for last several weeks meeting with the defense. And what's very interesting in its own way, he looks at things a lot like I do on the defensive side of the ball. His devotion to tape, his devotion to coaching not in absolutes, but through relationships and really trying to get the best out of players in every way, shape, or form, allowing them to be themselves, not putting them in a box, not confining them. All these things are very similar to the way that I've always looked at football on the offensive side of the ball."