Relationships matter in football. A strong relationship between a team’s head coach and starting quarterback matters even more.
It’s no secret that Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and now-Steelers linebackers coach Brian Flores had a shaky relationship. A consistently bad offensive staff and a lack of commitment from the head coach to the quarterback usually have that effect.
New Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel has approached his relationship with Tagovailoa quite differently. The first-time head coach has also looked to build his off-field relationship with Tagovailoa, much to the young quarterback’s surprise.
“[McDaniel is] very supportive and wants to hang out,” Tagovailoa told reporters in a recent press conference. “I go up there to his office and tell him, ‘I’ve got a couple of guys coming over to hang out’ and he feels bad that he didn’t get an invite to come over and hang out.”
McDaniel’s approach to building relationships with his players has been one that is rooted in friendship. He did not have to attend and actively participate in Tagovailoa’s “Luau with Tua” event, but doing so further showed the care he has for his players as people.
— Tua Foundation (@TuaFoundation) April 10, 2022
This level of support extended from his time in San Francisco, where he was seen at meals with players outside the 49ers’s practice facility. McDaniel treats his players as friends, not just pawns on the field.
— Akash Anavarathan (@akashanav) March 13, 2022
“I think support for any of us as players means a lot,” Tagovailoa said of McDaniel’s support of his players. “We understand that the NFL … is a tough industry. It’s tough to play because you’re playing against the best every Sunday. To be able to have the support of the head coach, the head guy, that should tell you a lot.”
Having the support of the head coach helps take the edge off the grind of the NFL. It allows players to loosen up and play to their potential, something that was hard to do under more of a disciplinarian like Flores.
McDaniel’s support for Tagovailoa began almost as soon as the first-year head coach was hired. He gave the quarterback a call as he and his family flew to Miami for his introductory press conference.
“One thing I know about you is that you have the ambition to be great. My job is to coach you to get all that greatness out of you,” McDaniel told Tagovailoa. “It’s on bro! If you don’t have eye black at home you better go get some eye black because we’re going. I’m happy for you, I’m happy for myself and I think Dolphins fans should be happy as well.”
Dolphins fans hope that this positive relationship between their head coach and starting quarterback will lead Miami to its first playoff win since 2000.