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Mike McDaniel has a lot of work to do to fix the Dolphins, plus Michigan’s rough offseason gets rougher

Happy Monday, folks. Hope you made it through the first NFL-less weekend since early September without too many withdrawals. Now we’re onto Super Bowl week!

Let’s get right to it.

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Good morning to everyone but especially to…

MIKE McDANIEL

The Miami Dolphins have a new coach: Mike McDaniel’s meteoric rise has landed him the top job in Miami.

McDaniel, who turns 39 next month, has had NFL stops in Denver, Houston, Washington, Cleveland, Atlanta and, for the last five seasons, San Francisco. He served as the 49ers‘ run game coordinator from 2017-20 before being elevated to offensive coordinator this past season.

Since 2017, the 49ers rank:

  • 11th in yards per rush
  • Seventh in rushing touchdowns
  • Fourth in yards per rush against eight-man boxes
  • Sixth in explosive rush rate (rushes for 12+ yards)

On the other hand, last season, the Dolphins were:

  • 31st in yards per rush
  • Tied for 24th in rushing touchdowns
  • 26th in yards per rush against eight-man boxes
  • 30th in explosive rush rate

Make no mistake, McDaniel has a lot of work to do. Myles Gaskin led the Dolphins with just 612 rushing yards last season and Miami ranked in the bottom 10 in both yards per rush before contact and yards per rush after contact.

However, there are some pieces in place. I’m particularly intrigued by how McDaniel will help Tua Tagovailoa, who led the league in passing yards and yards per attempt on run-pass option plays last season. Things should open up even more in RPO scenarios if McDaniel can improve Miami’s rushing attack.

The 49ers will get two compensatory third-round picks for having McDaniel, who is biracial, hired away.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for…


USATSI

THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

This offseason, the University of Michigan had already lost its defensive coordinator, Mike MacDonald, to the NFL and nearly lost its head coach, Jim Harabaugh, to the pros, too.

Over the weekend, it lost its offensive coordinator. Josh Gattis is headed to Miami to serve as the Hurricanes’ OC. Gattis put up an impressive last season in Ann Arbor, one in which he won the Broyles Award for the nation’s top assistant. In 2021, Michigan ranked:

  • 16th in offensive points per game
  • 22nd in yards per play
  • Eighth in offensive success rate
  • 12th in points per drive

Simply put, right after finally breaking through under Harbaugh, Michigan is having a terrible offseason, writes our Tom Fornelli:

  • Fornelli: “Both MacDonald and Gattis played significant roles in Michigan’s turnaround from a terrible 2020 season and helped lead them to the Big Ten title and College Football Playoff. Now Harbaugh will be in the market for new coordinators, and it’s hard to imagine the job will be appealing to top names — not because Michigan isn’t a great place to coach, but because it’s hard to know what the future holds for Harbaugh. Who’s to say he doesn’t get the NFL itch again next winter?”

Not so honorable mentions

Caris LeVert headed to Cavaliers as NBA Trade Deadline approaches 🏀

Caris LeVert got traded Sunday night, but he doesn’t have far to go.

Shortly before the Pacers‘ game at the Cavaliers, Indiana dealt LeVert to Cleveland (along with a second-round pick) in exchange for Ricky Rubio, a 2022 first-round pick and a pair of second-round picks.

LeVert, 27, is the headliner here. He is averaging 18.7 points per game this season and can provide instant offense to a Cavaliers squad that entered Sunday 19th in offensive efficiency. Our NBA expert Jack Maloney gives Cleveland an “A” grade for this deal.

  • Maloney: “The Cavaliers desperately needed offense for their playoff push, and they got just that in LeVert. He can create his own shot, offers a bit of playmaking and should slot in perfectly as a guy who can lead their second unit and take some of the pressure off [Darius] Garland. … As for the first-round pick, it will likely be in the 20s, and they already have a bunch of young talent.”

On the other side of things, Rubio is out for the season with a torn ACL and will be a free agent this offseason. So it could be a busy week for Indiana. As for LeVert, I agree with Maloney here.

Cleveland is third in defensive efficiency this season, but that offense needs some juice. Entering Sunday, Garland was the only Cavalier with at least 100 made pull-up jumpers this season (150). Rubio, who hasn’t played since Dec. 28, was second with 64. With LeVert (107 made pull-up jumpers) in the fold, Cleveland now has a guy who can both create and score off the dribble.

Malik Willis among winners at Senior Bowl 🏈


USATSI

The 2022 Senior Bowl has come and gone. All 32 NFL teams got to see many of this year’s top draft prospects for several days and have headed home from Mobile, Ala. with plenty of valuable information.

The question that lingers over the draft is, “Who is the top quarterback?” Liberty’s Malik Willis and Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett hope to be the answer, but only one stood out Saturday, writes our NFL Draft expert Ryan Wilson:

  • Wilson: “Our stance on Willis remains unchanged: He’s incredibly raw, but the upside is through the roof. He’ll need to land in the right place to have the best chance to succeed, and he probably won’t be ready to play until 2023. There were several instances Saturday where he missed open receivers, or only got through his initial read before taking off. It’s fun to watch, for sure, but it’s not sustainable in the NFL, and the team that drafts him must have a long-term plan. For today, however, it was a lot of fun.”

Quarterbacks Sam Howell and Desmond Ridderour No. 4- and No. 5-ranked QBs — also played well:

  • Wilson: “Throughout his career in Chapel Hill, Howell has drawn comparisons to Baker Mayfield, but the reality is this: Mayfield was a better, more consistent passer coming out of Oklahoma while Howell is the better athlete.Ridder arguably had the most to prove this week, and while he held his own during the week, on Saturday he made some of the throws we wanted to see.

You can check here for all of Saturday’s winners and here for the week’s top performers from practice. 

What we’re watching Monday 📺

🏀 Virginia at No. 9 Duke, 7 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Suns at Bulls, 8 p.m. on NBA TV
🏀 No. 10 Kansas at No. 23 Texas, 9 p.m. on ESPN



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