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Mike McDaniel Looking For Offense To Progress Again in 2024

"So if you're good at algebra, does that mean you're good at calculus? There's steps in between, right?"

Those are the words of Head Coach Mike McDaniel, who was asked this week at the NFL Scouting Combine about young quarterbacks transitioning to the NFL.

"There's different nuances to it," he said. "The time with which you have to throw is different. The space is different. The space that you have to throw in the pocket, the space down the field, just all the things that are pillars of the professional game, there's a disparity in really what the quarterback is asked to do relative to what they're doing in college. It's a taste of it, but it's on a whole other level."

In his first two NFL seasons, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa ranked 21st in completion percentage, tied for 22nd in passing touchdowns, 25th in passing yards, 28th in passer rating, tied for 30th in completions of 25+ yards and 33rd in yards per attempt. Since he started working with McDaniel in 2022, Tagovailoa ranks in the top five in all six of those categories, including second in passer rating (102.9) and yards per attempt (8.51).

Tagovailoa earned his first Pro Bowl selection in 2023 after posting a league-best 4,624 passing yards, a career-high 29 passing touchdowns and a franchise-record 69.3 completion percentage. A big reason for his development, McDaniel said, is the reps he got this season from playing all 17 regular season games.

"I think one of the best examples of taking control of your career is what Tua was able to do through training and being able to experience all the different things – I mean shoot, experience a playoff game for the first time in his career. That was afforded to him because he was able to lead the team week in and week out. These are things that weren't necessarily assumed he was capable of doing, but like most things Tua has done in his career, he's recognized that and proved doubters wrong."

General Manager Chris Grier also commended Tagovailoa's growth off the field while speaking with media members Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine.

"His growth on and off the field, being voted captain last year and then seeing how he is behind the scenes with guys and holding people accountable, it's huge," Grier said.

Now entering the 2024 season, McDaniel and the Dolphins' offensive staff are focused on helping Tagovailoa take another step forward.

"My main concern this offseason has been communicating what Tua needs from his head coach and his offensive coaching staff, which is what things can we identify to continue the progression of your game the same way that we have since day one? My belief has always been strong from day one in Tua. It's stronger than it was the first day I met him and that's because of that relationship, where I'm focused, which is continuing to provide the coaching so he can continue to evolve his game as he has since the second that I started talking to him."

Evolve is all the Dolphins offense has done over the last three seasons. One year before McDaniel arrived, Miami ranked 25th in total offense (307.0), 31st in yards per carry (3.5), 22nd in scoring offense (20.1) and 29th in yards per play (4.8). Those ranks jumped all the way up to first in total offense (401.3) and yards per carry (5.1) and second in scoring offense (29.2) and yards per play (6.5) in 2023.

McDaniel and his staff are excited for the growth opportunities entering 2024, and with the NFL Draft and free agency on the horizon, the Dolphins offense in September will feature new faces and a system that has evolved to fit their skillsets.

"There's never been one year from an offensive perspective that I can remember that we stayed exactly the same, particularly since I got started here in 2022," McDaniel said. "There will be exciting things that we do different. There's going to be exciting things that we will evolve from, and there's exciting things that we will build upon on the success of the first two years."

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