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Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel is goofy

Sports Final: Expectations for Patriots heading into Week 1 of 2022 season
Sports Final: Expectations for Patriots heading into Week 1 of 2022 season 04:58

BOSTON -- Mike McDaniel is a paradigm shifter. To say the least.

McDaniel is in the midst of prepping for his debut as an NFL head coach, as his Miami Dolphins will host the New England Patriots on Sunday afternoon in Miami Gardens. On the opposing sideline will be Bill Belichick, the exact opposite of McDaniel in myriad ways. The most significant difference comes in the way of experience, as this will be Belichick's 434th game as an NFL head coach.

Yet if McDaniel is stressing out about the biggest week of his professional life, he sure doesn't seem like it. In fact ... the 39-year-old seems ... downright goofy. Which is more or less how he's been since getting the job in February.

McDaniel spoke to the media in Miami on Monday, and he was asked about the challenge of facing Belichick in his first NFL game. The response was ... goofy.

"Yeah, I mean, can there be a larger disparity in career win-loss total?" McDaniel said of Belichick, who's won 290 regular-season games plus 31 playoff games as a head coach. "No, it would be a bigger deal I think if Coach Belichick and I were on the field, maybe doing like an Oklahoma drill. But I don't foresee that happening. I don't think the fans would really pay for that."

(Reasonable minds may disagree on that last point.)

"We do our best," McDaniel continued. "I know one thing that coaches in the National Football League -- especially experienced NFL head coaches, especially arguably the best coach of all time, Bill Belichick, he's going to be prepared. So you know that as a head coach, you better prepare your team and leave no stone unturned. Otherwise, you'll end up kind of coaching with regret after the fact. Luckily, the schedule came out a long time ago, so I digested that and knew what Week 1 was. And luckily it's the Miami Dolphins versus the New England Patriots, not a one-on-one square-off between head coaches."  

At the end of his press conference, McDaniel was asked for his opinion on how helpful it will be for the Patriots to be practicing in the Florida heat for three days leading up to Sunday's game.

And after giving a sincere response, McDaniel guided his answer to a different place. That place was -- you guessed it -- quite goofy.

"I feel very lucky -- almost overly lucky -- that I get to work on my tan all the time," McDaniel said. "I'm sure there's a lot of players and coaches for the Patriots that'll be excited to bronze up a little bit before the TV regular season starts. So I know that, for a fact, that if you don't put sunscreen on, you will get bronzed. So, factually, they better SPF up."   

Anyone who's ever witnessed a press conference from Bill Belichick -- or most NFL head coaches, really -- knows that the topic of bronzing doesn't often come up from the man behind the podium during the week of an NFL game. But perhaps McDaniel's focus on bronzing is merely a by-product of coming up under Mike Shanahan. There's a man who was never afraid of the sun's rays, that's for sure.

Of course, McDaniel's goofy demeanor is nothing new.

First look at Miami Dolphins Head Coach Mike McDaniel: Goat of press conferences 😂 | 49ers by TheSFNiners on YouTube

And unlike past years, it doesn't mean that Belichick's team will waltz into his stadium and win via blowout. Had this been a game taking place during the dynastic years, then surely we'd all be chuckling at the wacky, inexperienced coach who didn't know what he had coming.

Yet there's plenty of reason to like the Dolphins this Sunday. McDaniel's running games in San Francisco under Kyle Shanahan were some of the best in the league, there's continuity on defense under Josh Boyer, and Belichick's teams have pretty much always struggled in Miami, going 9-13 since 2000 and 1-4 since 2017. Throw in the uncertainty of the Matt Patricia-led Patriots offense -- plus some potential injury concerns at the offensive tackle spot -- and the arrow is certainly pointing in the Dolphins' direction.

McDaniel is also acutely aware of how many of us see him ... and he's OK with that.

Speaking with The MMQB's Albert Breer this summer, McDaniel said he used to be bothered when people didn't view him as a head coach type because of his personality, but he has since learned to live with it.

"It did early in my career. I try to empathize. And I got comfortable with the thought of like, OK, am I going to be mad at people for not expecting uncharted territory? People are playing percentages," McDaniel told Breer. "I'm not mad at people for not being visionaries. They're going in the abstract. At first, maybe it bothered me. But then it's like, I understand. I have not spent any time being angry at people. How many times have I heard the whole, 'Can he lead men?' I guess we'll see."

If the Dolphins do beat the Patriots to give McDaniel his first career win, in a game against a legend like Bill Belichick no less? There will surely be some goofiness at that podium late Sunday afternoon.

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