The NFL Scouting Combine provides coaches and front office personnel an opportunity to glance into the future. It's a chance to measure draft prospects' athleticism and a chance to meet with players and gauge the potential culture fit within an organization.
For media covering the event, it's a chance to pick the brains of some of the best football minds like Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel, who perked up at the suggestion that there's even more room to grow in Year 2 of an offense that ranked sixth in the NFL during his rookie season.
"It's going to be huge. Our offensive players haven't had an offseason where they're watching themselves in half a decade, maybe more," he said. "That's incredibly important. I had to be reminded by coaches on-staff last year that, 'Hey, this is like the fourth consecutive season that these guys have watched a different team's cut-ups in the offseason.' I'm very, very excited for the players to be able to come back and digest the system, to not have any variance offensively, and it will just be correcting, improving and building upon what we did last year."
NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah joined the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield Tuesday and also touched on that continuity, and perhaps the biggest beneficiary of it, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The fourth-year signal-caller enters his first season with a repeat play-caller since he was in high school.
"You get to more of the playbook," said Jeremiah. "It's not like high school where it's the same playbook every year. In the NFL, every year, that volume just gets bigger and bigger," he said. "Think about the number of plays you have to pull from a weekly basis … it's just a bigger catalog of plays you can get to."
Speaking of that fourth year for the former first-round pick, the Dolphins have until May to exercise the fifth-year option on Tagovailoa's contract. McDaniel expanded on that process and the long-term outlook of his quarterback.
"There's a congruence of interest by the Dolphins and the player, Tua, that both parties really want him to play at a very high level for a long time for the Miami Dolphins," McDaniel said. "What's the best way to engineer that or help manifest that? Those are the things we're weighing in terms of the various options with the same desired end [result], which is what Tua would [also] like."
Jeremiah lauded the performance of the Miami quarterback. He described how he feels the Dolphins can improve upon last year's No. 6 ranked offense under Tagovailoa.
"I think you're going to see the run game catch up to where the pass game is. It's a dynamic group. There's so much speed on the perimeter. I think the run-game complement is really going to make this thing go," Jeremiah said.
Back at McDaniel's news conference, he addressed what the team looks for at the running back position. All four backs on Miami's 2022 roster are presently set to hit free agency next month.
"There's a lot of different ways that you can get to the desired results," McDaniel said. "First and foremost, from the running back position on our team, you need a team player that's willing to do whatever it takes to win. We have good players surrounding the running back so you've got to be able to pass block and do things off the ball. There are many different types of running backs that can excel in this offense."
That's a wrap on Day 1. Tomorrow, we'll be back with player interviews and another long list of media members and football analysts on the Drive Time Podcast.
Today's episode featured coverage of McDaniel's presser, Jeremiah's Drive Time appearance, and two more guests. We were joined by Daniel Oyefusi of the Miami Herald to discuss local South Florida talent and defensive backs. We also welcomed in Fran Duffy of the Philadelphia Eagles and the host of the Journey to the Draft podcast, to talk team-building and this year's class.
We'll be back tomorrow with the Day 2 notebook and another episode of Drive Time.