Shortly after hiring new head coach Mike McDaniel, the Miami Dolphins got to work on putting their coaching staff together.
They opted for continuity on defense, keeping coordinator Josh Boyer, who helped lead an opportunistic young unit over the last two seasons.
However, the additions they have made and the group they have assembled has been nothing short of star-studded. Mike McDaniel has combined a group of young, ascending minds with accomplished veterans mixed in. It’s clear that McDaniel is looking for a collaborative effort, and these assistants are sure to bring something to the table.
Frank Smith – offensive coordinator
With Josh Boyer being retained, McDaniel only had one coordinator spot to fill. This role means something different for Miami, as McDaniel announced that he would be calling the plays. Miami needed someone who could be a collaborative mind instead of a play-caller.
With those factors taken into consideration, Miami chose Los Angeles Chargers run-game coordinator Frank Smith.
Smith has an accomplished past, leading one of the NFL’s most exciting run games, led by Austin Ekeler. Complementing one of the league’s best young quarterbacks-Smith’s work helped LA finish fourth in total yards.
His success also extends to positional coaching. Smith also took on the offensive line coaching role with the Chargers and was one of the primary forces in the development of Rashawn Slater, who was one of the NFL’s best tackles in his rookie season. During his tenure with the Raiders, he also helped develop Darren Waller, where he was the tight ends coach
Darrell Bevell – QB/passing game coordinator
The Dolphins have made it clear that Tua Tagovailoa will be their starting QB in 2022, and his development is crucial. Unfortunately, Tua didn’t take the step forward many hoped for, and most of the blame has gone to the coaching staff. Miami’s unit was inexperienced and needed some change to maximize their young signal-caller. Thus, they went after one of the most experienced and successful coaches available and hired Darrell Bevell.
Bevell has a strong track record of working with quarterbacks, the most prominent of which has been comparison for Tua Tagovailoa. In addition, Russell Wilson, who Bevell worked with for seven years, blossomed into an elite QB with Bevell as the OC. In that stint, he garnered love and respect from players, along with credit for the development of a star.
He also has experience with other top-tier quarterbacks in Brett Favre and Matthew Stafford, which may translate to Tua’s development.
Wes Welker – WR coach
Of Miami’s assistant coaching hires, three were formerly with the franchise as players, the first of which being Wes Welker.
Along with playing at the highest level, Welker was the 49ers’ receivers coach last season. Working with a strong unit, he was pivotal in the development of Deebo Samuel, who became a force in 2021. He also oversaw the improvement of Brandon Aiyuk and the rest of the receiver group.
Deebo mentioned Welker had a significant say in helping with game plan installation and has a strong mind in the passing game. It seems that Miami brought him in for help with their young wide receiver group and to be another brain in their collaborative game plan sessions.
Jon Embree – Assistant HC/TE coach
McDaniel wasn’t shy in taking some of his colleagues away from his former team. Along with Wes Welker, the Dolphins snagged 49ers tight ends coach Jon Embree.
As with many on McDaniel’s staff, Embree has shown the trait of being able to teach and develop players. Notably, George Kittle, renowned as one of the best tight ends in the league, has stated how important Embree was to his growth as a player. Embree also helped get big seasons out of Jordan Cameron and Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez.
It’s clear that McDaniel wanted teachers, and he’s taken those who have taught some of the best in the game. Miami has a young, talented tight-end group led by free agent Mike Gesicki. If anyone is going to get the best out of them, it can be Embree.
Matt Applebaum – OL coach
The Dolphins made the offensive line a chief need of their coaching search. Following poor performances throughout 2021, it was clear that the room needed a new leader. So Miami brought in Frank Smith (run-game coordinator) and Matt Applebaum with that in mind.
Although having little experience at the NFL level, Applebaum has been one of the best offensive line coaches in the sport. His work at Boston College has been impressive, generating a unit that produced multiple All-ACC talents, along with three intriguing prospects in this upcoming draft. Among those is guard Zion Johnson, who projects to be a first-round pick and now has a connection in Miami’s building.
Matt has an evident knack for developing talent, and that’s precisely what Miami will look for him to do. Miami hopes he can maximize their talent by using significant draft capital on the line over the last two seasons.
Former players make return as members of the Miami Dolphins coaching staff.
Although Miami opted for continuity on their defensive staff, they weren’t afraid to bring in a few familiar faces. Along with Wes Welker on offense, former Dolphins players Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain were hired as defensive assistants.
Madison and Surtain were a dynamic duo, securing the backend of some of Miami’s elite defenses in the 2000’s. Madison snagged 38 interceptions throughout his career and made four consecutive Pro Bowls for Miami. Statistically, Surtain was nearly as productive, grabbing 37 picks and making three Pro Bowls of his own.
Since their playing days, each has done impressive jobs at different levels of coaching. Madison helped revamp a Kansas City Chiefs secondary featuring Tyrann Mathieu and developed young cornerback L’Jarius Sneed. Surtain was the head coach of American Heritage, a prestigious high school in Plantation, Florida.
The two former Dolphins will work with a duo very much like their own. Byron Jones and Xavien Howard have led one of the best cornerback groups in the NFL. Their work has essentially put Miami’s opportunistic defense over the top. So much of Miami’s aggressiveness wouldn’t be possible without such a great back-end, and that group will now be coached by two of the best corners in Dolphins history.
The Bottom Line on the Miami Dolphins Coaching Staff
Unlike the last few regimes, Mike McDaniel is putting together a list of familiar names and faces. Whether they have worked with him previously, developed talent elsewhere, or even played in the aqua and orange, this Miami Dolphins coaching staff consists of big name after big name.
The games aren’t played on paper, and assembling a staff is only the beginning. However, as we begin Mike McDaniel’s first offseason, it seems that the Miami Dolphins are starting strong.