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    Mike McDaniel’s Miami Dolphins Coaching Staff Could Get Raided in Coming Months

    Mike McDaniel's top Miami Dolphins assistants -- Frank Smith and Anthony Weaver -- were hot names last hiring cycle and likely will be again in 2025.

    MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Mike McDaniel is in just his third season with the Miami Dolphins and his coaching tree has already sprouted its first branch.

    Well, sort of.

    Another Offseason of Change for Miami Dolphins?

    Teddy Bridgewater was McDaniel’s QB2 in 2022. Now he’s the head coach at his alma mater, Miami Northwestern.

    “I am glad you brought that to my attention,” McDaniel said a few weeks back when a reporter pointed that out to him. “I needed the ego boost — I have a tree.

    “I hadn’t thought of Coach Bridgewater as a disciple of my tree, but technically I guess you’re right, and it’s cool to see. I kind of had an idea that Teddy would go this direction when he was kind of figuring things out and what he wanted to do. He’s a very talented individual and has a lot of things that he could do with his time, but he’s passionate about football, so it doesn’t surprise me.

    “That’s pretty cool, Year 3, to have a tree. That means there’s growth in life. It’s not fall and there’s not people scattering around the league just getting fired because of their association with me, so that’s good.”

    Jokes aside, McDaniel could soon be reminded that habitual success has its cost.

    His top two assistants — offensive coordinator Frank Smith and defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver — are expected to be hot names again next cycle after getting two interviews each for head coaching vacancies in 2024.

    Weaver met with the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Commanders about their vacancies before leaving the Baltimore Ravens for the Dolphins DC job.

    Smith, meanwhile, had interviews with the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks for their top jobs.

    And while neither landed a head coaching gig, McDaniel must know that he could lose both of his coordinators next offseason, especially if the Dolphins have the type of season he expects.

    Frank Smith’s Profile

    Smith, asked earlier this month about the impact those interviews have had on his career and life, responded with dry wit.

    “My kids think I’m a lot cooler,” he said. “I don’t know; I think you guys know with me, I just think the whole process through that was very humbling for me because I just — the years you put in to get right at the precipice of like, wow, your dream and why you get into it. Obviously, that’s why I got into coaching, but it also reminds me, ‘Hey, just because you had that opportunity doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed again.'”

    Of course, that’s true. But the odds of Smith never getting another shot to make his case in front of an NFL franchise seem slim. He has the right disposition, and he’s had a ton of success since joining McDaniel’s staff in 2022.

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    While his boss called the plays, Smith’s fingerprints were all over a Dolphins offense that ranked first in yards per game (401.3), passing yards per game (265.5), and yards per carry (5.1); and second in points (29.2), yards per play (6.5), and yards per pass (8.0) last year.

    “It was an interesting experience,” Smith continued. “I learned a lot, and I think it’s helped me be better here for Mike and Chris [Grier] and just everyone with the program because when you get challenged to think broader, it helps now when you go back to narrow, kind of being able to maybe see things because you had to think about things.

    “Things that maybe you never would have thought about before you thought about, but you had to really narrow down. So, very humbling, and I’m very appreciative to all the people here that allowed me to be in this position.”

    Anthony Weaver’s Profile

    As for Weaver, there’s a real danger that McDaniel hired him as a one-year rental, particularly if he gets the most out of Miami’s talented defense this fall.

    Weaver has already proven to his new players why his last boss, John Harbaugh, called him “an absolute star” at this winter’s NFL Scouting Combine.

    Harbaugh added: “He lights up a room. He fills up a room, too. He fills up a room and lights up a room. The way he treats people, the way he responds to problems and problem-solving, the way he coaches guys, the way he presents, his understanding of defense generally.”

    Weaver knows how to relate to 21st-century players because he was one himself. He had a seven-year NFL career with the Ravens and Houston Texans before serving as an assistant coach for both teams after his retirement.

    Weaver does have prior DC experience, and while it was short-lived, his one-year dry run with the Texans was probably doomed to fail from the start. Insufficient talent and COVID-19 restrictions made his 2020 season a rough one.

    “I learned so many things from that experience because there was a lot of adversity thrown at us in that particular year,” Weaver said. “I’m talking about COVID-19. I’m talking about a head coach getting fired midseason and how you’re going to try to right the ship and keep it all together. And then just the schematic tweaks, how the offenses tried to adapt as we’re changing and trying to protect some of the players that we have.

    “There were so many lessons learned there. Ultimately, when we were let go and I had opportunities to go elsewhere and potentially coordinate again, I chose to go to Baltimore to see how that dinner was being made because they were doing a lot of good things there. So I took a step back in order to take a huge step forward, which we hope pays dividends here in Miami.”

    Smart move. Weaver did indeed regain his footing the last three years as Harbaugh’s top lieutenant, overseeing the defensive line and a run defense that ranked second in yards per carry allowed in 2021 (3.8) and third in 2022 (3.9).

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    That led to a call from old friend Mike McDaniel, who needed a new defensive coordinator after things went sideways with Vic Fangio after one season. McDaniel — and the Dolphins defensive players — already have a chemistry with Weaver that they never did with Fangio.

    “I feel that he’s going to be a head coach someday,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said. “I mean, it’s right there for him. He’s going to do a remarkable job, I think, down in Miami. The players are going to love him, the community is going to love him. That defense is going to be fast and furious, and I think he’ll be a head coach before you know it.”

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