The Dolphins’ ‘F— it” play vs. the Ravens typified their explosive potential

Good coaches refuse to coach out of fear. Great coaches take that fear-refusal mindset and instill it in their entire organization. It’s only two games in for new Miami Dolphins head coach and offensive shot-caller Mike McDaniel, but it’s safe to say that McDaniel, who cut his teeth as a coach under both Mike and Kyle Shanahan from Denver to Washington to Cleveland to Atlanta to San Francisco, is running his team in a way that will require everybody on the field to walk around with wheelbarrows, if you know what I mean.

Fortunately, in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, the Dolphins have two receivers who can scorch an entire secondary with pure speed even with wheelbarrows. Against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, Miami found itself down 35-14 after Lamar Jackson killed their defense with a 79-yard touchdown run.

The Dolphins got a bit more back in the game when Tua Tagovailoa hit River Cracraft for a two-yard touchdown pass with 12:12 left in the game, but when you’re down two touchdowns to the Ravens’ defense? With Lamar having maybe the best game of his career?

That’s a tough ask. So, McDaniel did what every great coach does in his or her own way — he took the belief he had instilled, and he took it to the field.

That was the “F— it” play, as McDaniel described it to NBC Sports’ Peter King after the game. And it was what got the ball rolling in Miami’s four-touchdown second half, and an incredible 42-38 comeback win.

“So we had a play ready, in case things weren’t going right, or in case there were various frustrations,” McDaniel said. “We installed that play with the expletives, that the quarterbacks knew as the “F— it” play. Tua loved the play. If we really needed to make something happen, that was the play we’d call.”

The play call was this: With 7:54 left in the game, Tyreek Hill lined up as the iso receiver to the front side. The Dolphins had three receivers to the left. Hill ran a vertical route against cornerback Marcus Peters, but it was Cracraft outside left, and Jaylen Waddle in the left slot, who decided how the coverage was going to work.

The Ravens played Cover-3, and with Cracraft and Waddle running dual deep crossers, safety Kyle Hamilton was forced (at least in his own mind) to roll to the passing strength. The problem with that concept is that if the passing strength is in the opposite direction of where Tyreek Hill is running a vertical route, you are not clear on what “passing strength” means.

The other problem with Miami’s offense, as it stands now, is that Waddle on the other side of the formation presents a nearly equivalent passing strength. So, a single deep safety is destined to guess wrong.

“We had talked the night before at the quarterback meeting,” McDaniel said. “Tua knew he liked the opportunity there. He goes, ‘Yeah, third-and-12, third-and-long, I really like the F-it play.’”

The result was clear and obvious: Hill ran right by Peters, as he will do to just about every NFL cornerback, and Hamilton was wishing he could split himself in two in order to deal with what the Dolphins presented to him.

Tagovailoa came into this season with a need to prove his mettle as a franchise quarterback in a way that has crushed other young signal-callers. In this game, he threw four touchdown passes in the final 12:12 of the game, and in total, he completed 36 of 50 passes for 469 yards, six touchdowns, and two early interceptions.

Perhaps more important than Tagovailoa’s stats, or Hill’s and Waddle’s stats — per NFL Research, it’s the first time in the Super Bowl era teammates have had both 170-plus receiving yards and 2-plus receiving touchdowns in the same game — was the way McDaniel had set Tagovailoa up for success, and then reinforced everything he’d said before after it worked.

“I said, ‘The weight should be lifted off your shoulders, man,'” McDaniel told King regarding what he said to his quarterback after the fact. “All you did was do exactly what we talked about. Hopefully at least for a week you can shut up all the people that you’re trying not to listen to.’ I’m hoping Sundays feel different to him now. You need kind of a shock and awe moment for that to happen.”

The Dolphins are suddenly full of shock and awe in their passing game. To the point where McDaniel’s “F— it” ethos will be repeated in a far more negative sense by every defense they face.

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire