The Dolphins revamped the offense in Year 1 under Mike McDaniel, producing Miami's best yards-per-game output since 1994. Heading into McDaniel's second season, Miami adds one of the brightest minds defensive football has ever known.
"Vic is one of one in my opinion, of creating and innovating and sustaining high-quality defense," Head Coach Mike McDaniel said. "I think all players on defense will benefit from it. I know myself included, I'll benefit from the process of being able to work with him on a daily basis and tap into his infinite wisdom."
Over the course of several interviews for the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield pundits have highlighted the impact Fangio will have on the defense overall. And one player's name has come up frequently as a guy who has a chance to take his game to another level.
"Vic's going to help them make plays," Daniel Jeremiah said. "It's an aggressive front that makes the ball come out even quicker. (Jevon) Holland is already one of the best safeties in the league. I think with Vic, you're going to see him go to the next level."
Chris Grier met with members of the South Florida media on Wednesday morning. He, too, was asked about Fangio's impact, particularly at the safety and linebacker positions.
"You've heard Vic talk about Jevon Holland, how he loves Jevon and get some depth at that position will help with a couple guys there still and then obviously with Brandon (Jones) coming back off his injury at some point here," Grier said. "Inside linebacker position, we've really have two guys under contract there, so we need to build some depth and create some competition there. And we'll do that."
Another key element of Fangio's defense is the defensive line. Last year, that group was anchored by Christian Wilkins. Improving every year of his career, including a breakout 2022 season in which he had more tackles than any NFL defensive lineman in a season since 1994, what does the future look like for Wilkins in Miami?
"Ever since we drafted (Wilkins), he has done nothing but get better each year," Grier said. "You guys have heard me talk about how he works around the building. He's in every day. I've seen him around more than anyone. He loves the game. He loves our organization. We love him. We'd like to have him here for a long time, but in terms of conversations with agents, we don't really talk publicly about it, but we would like to have him here a long time."
The Dolphins selected Wilkins, who had his fifth-year option exercised last spring, in the first round of the 2019 draft.
Miami has another fifth-year option decision to make this offseason in quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who was part of the 2020 draft class. Grier touched on the long-term future of the Miami signal-caller.
"(We'll go through all the options) here," Grier said. "We're not rushed to make anything right now. We're very excited for him. The strides he made this year with Mike (McDaniel) and the offense, you guys have been here and seen it. It was really exciting and to see the work he's put in that you guys don't see at the facility."
Tagovailoa's 105.9 passer rating led the NFL in 2022. By most metrics, the 24-year-old south paw was at or near the top of the league leaderboard. Pro-rating his numbers to a full season would've seen his yardage creep up around 5,000 and his touchdowns in the mid-30's. Because of four missed games, Tagovailoa ended the year with just over 3,500 passing yards and 25 touchdowns. How do the Dolphins balance the production versus the durability?
"It's not something that it's going to make us afraid to do something long-term with him," Grier said. "He's been banged up, but he always comes back and bounces back and plays hard and performs, so [I am] excited for his future … He's very excited to get back on the field with his teammates."
In front of Tagovailoa, the Dolphins revamped the offensive line in 2022. Adding Terron Armstead and Connor Williams gave Miami a pair of veteran stalwarts in front of Tagovailoa, not to mention the emergence of another member of the 2020 draft class, Robert Hunt.
Grier was asked about Miami's intentions along the offensive line, a group that includes talented players acquired via free agency and the draft.
"For us, it's continuing to add depth at that position and competition … guys made tremendous strides last year," Grier said. "(So we're) excited about some of the development and potential of some of the players."
Finally, the NFLPA released team report cards today after they surveyed 1,300 players about their daily experience at team facilities away from the lights and cameras. The Miami Dolphins were ranked second out of the 32 NFL teams, scoring highly in many categories such as strength staff, athletic training staff and facilities.
For more on Day 2 from Indianapolis, check out the Drive Time Podcast. We played the highlights from the Grier media availability and spoke with Greg Cosell of NFL Films, Emory Hunt of CBS Sports HQ and Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus.
Tomorrow, we have more guests coming on the show. The lineup includes Benjamin Solak from The Ringer, Jordan Reid of ESPN and much more!