The relationship between a quarterback and his head coach is one of the most important in all of sports, and the Miami Dolphins certainly have a special connection between Tua Tagovailoa and Mike McDaniel.
After Tagovailoa suffered a concussion during a game last season, he kept asking for the same person over and over, according to the Washington Post.
“Where’s Mike?” Tagovailoa kept saying at the time.
It was a reaction that arose from McDaniel’s approach to the job after he took over the team prior to last season. The first-time head coach has made it a priority to develop emotional connections with his players in part by revealing some of his own shortcomings.
It’s a different method than what Tagovailoa was accustomed to as a younger athlete, with a demanding father creating a fear of failure that perhaps motivated him. He also played for taskmasters Nick Saban at the University of Alabama and Brian Flores when he first arrived in the NFL.
The current bond between the 25-year-old quarterback and his 40-year-old head coach – both on the field and off of it – has paid substantial dividends for the Dolphins over the duo’s two seasons together.
After reaching the playoffs last season for the first time since the 2016 NFL campaign, the Dolphins look to be headed back there again this season thanks to their historically successful offense.
They opened the campaign by accumulating the most yards gained in the first five games of a season in NFL history, which included a 70-point outburst in a win against the Denver Broncos. Entering Sunday’s NFL action, they rank first in total yards per game, passing yards per game and points scored per game, and they are second in rushing yards per game.
Miami is on a bye this week holding a 6-3 record which is good enough for first place in the AFC East. Coming off a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Germany last Sunday, the Dolphins have yet to defeat a team with a winning record this season.
To truly become valid Super Bowl contenders, they will have to knock off a winning team eventually. But with Tagovailoa and McDaniel working together and building on their special relationship, it certainly is not out of the question.