MIAMI GARDENS, Fla.: Mike McDaniel refers to his time in Washington as a formative period of his coaching career. As an offensive assistant under Mike Shanahan, McDaniel built the competitive awareness and offensive ideology that he uses as the head coach of the AFC East-leading Miami Dolphins. Now, with the Dolphins, McDaniel faces off against his former team, the Washington Commanders, for the first time as a head coach.
“I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to be in that competitive atmosphere of coaches that were trying to all make a name for themselves in one way, shape or form,” said McDaniel.
Under Shanahan’s leadership, McDaniel helped develop a system made up of elements of the spread offense for quarterback Robert Griffin III, and that offense finished first in the NFL in rushing in 2012. McDaniel has taken this knowledge and implemented a high-flying offense in Miami, currently leading in several offensive categories this season.
McDaniel’s previous connection with the Washington team goes beyond his time as an assistant coach. Washington is now led by coach Ron Rivera, whom McDaniel also has a history with. When McDaniel was just starting out in his coaching career, Rivera was one of the first coaches to respond to him as he sought graduate assistant jobs in the NFL.
“Ron Rivera is a very bright, very sharp young man. He really is,” said Rivera about McDaniel. “He’s turned into a heck of a football coach. He’s done a great job.”
So, on Sunday, McDaniel will return to where it all began, looking to lead the Dolphins to another victory.