Mike McDaniel jokingly downplays Bill Belichick matchup in Patriots-Dolphins

·2 min read

Mike McDaniel has jokes about facing Belichick in Dolphins debut originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

There's being thrown into the fire, and then there's making your NFL head coaching debut against arguably the greatest head coach in NFL history.

Mike McDaniel's first game as head coach of the Miami Dolphins will come this Sunday against the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick, who is closing in on Don Shula and George Halas for the most wins of any head coach in NFL history.

McDaniel is well aware of the experience gap between himself and his coaching counterpart -- but he doesn't seem too concerned.

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"I mean, can there be a larger disparity in career win-loss total?" McDaniel joked Monday when asked about Sunday's coaching matchup.

"It would be a bigger deal, I think, if Coach Belichick and I were on the field maybe doing like an Oklahoma drill. But I don’t foresee that happening. I don’t think the fans would really pay for that."

That's McDaniel's joking way of saying the players will decide Sunday's regular-season opener, not the coaches. But it's hard to ignore Belichick's strong track record facing first-year head coaches; the Patriots went a perfect 6-0 in 2021 against rookie coaches.

Belichick's streak could be in jeopardy, as the Patriots enter Week 1 with legitimate questions surrounding their offense, which will be overseen by some combination of Matt Patricia, Joe Judge and Belichick after Josh McDaniels' offseason departure. The Dolphins, meanwhile, have a dynamic offense led by offseason acquisition Tyreek Hill and a brilliant offensive mind in McDaniel, who was Kyle Shanahan's offensive coordinator on the San Francisco 49ers last season before coming to Miami.

From an outside perspective, it will be fascinating to see whether Miami's talent and coaching youth can top Belichick's decades of coaching experience. McDaniel isn't getting caught up in that narrative, however.

"I know one thing, that coaches in the National Football League, especially experienced NFL head coaches, especially arguably the best coach of all time, Bill Belichick, he’s going to be prepared," McDaniel said. "So you know that as a head coach, you better prepare your team and leave no stone unturned. Otherwise, you’ll end up kind of coaching with regret after the fact.

"Luckily, the schedule came out a long time ago, so I digested that and knew what Week One was. And luckily, it’s the Miami Dolphins versus the New England Patriots, not a one-on-one square off between head coaches."

Kickoff at Hard Rock Stadium is set for 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.