Mike McDaniel explains controversial decision to go for it on fourth-and-7

·2 min read

In the second quarter of the Miami Dolphins’ season-opening victory over the New England Patriots, they were up just 10-0 and had yet to score an offensive touchdown.

During what was likely going to be their final drive of the half, the offense stalled at New England’s 42-yard line, leaving them with a fourth-and-7. Head coach Mike McDaniel would have to make a decision to either kick a long field, punt the ball or go for it.

In a decision that wide receiver Tyreek Hill appreciated, McDaniel opted to go for it and put the ball in Tua Tagovailoa’s hands. The former Crimson Tide quarterback took the snap and fired a pass to second-year wideout Jaylen Waddle, who split the defenders and ran for a 42-yard touchdown, Miami’s first of the season.

After the game, McDaniel was asked to explain the thought process of this decision.

“It was a cool moment for really our whole team, but the mechanics of working with the game management guys and talking through the different scenarios, we were just at the fringe of Jason’s (Sanders) range,” McDaniel said. “Yeah, you can push the envelope, but the flip side is you miss it, and you’re a first down away from giving up points. So then it became, all right, it does kind of make sense to go ahead and go for it, have a couple of thoughts in mind…

“I had a couple of thoughts, but then once the play started, I think Cedrick (Wilson) motioned down, and we had anticipated a certain type of leverage in the man-to-man coverage, and we got it. Then we got the protection, and then Tua ripped a strike.”

McDaniel went on, continuing to credit Tagovailoa and Waddle for making the play and being ready to do so.

“Part of the reason that you hear so much praise from Tyreek (Hill) and (Jaylen) Waddle about Tua is because he throws that catchable ball that you can get yards after catch,” McDaniel said. “Waddle, that’s something that we’ve emphasized a ton, and you want to talk about deliberate practice coming to life in the biggest moment is catching that in-break and then having a mindset. Not being surprised that he is catching it. No, he only scores because he immediately transitioned to take it to the house.”

This offense may have had their ups and downs in this contest, but there’s plenty to build on going forward that should give fans hope.

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Story originally appeared on Dolphins Wire