Mike McDaniel on Dolphins' Handling of Concussions: ‘We Don’t Mess With That’

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 30, 2022

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 25: Head coach Mike McDaniel speaks with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins in the fourth quarter of the game against the Buffalo Bills at Hard Rock Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)
Megan Briggs/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins' handling of Tua Tagovailoa is under the spotlight after he stumbled when getting up following a hard hit during Sunday's win over the Buffalo Bills and then exited Thursday's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals with a concussion a mere four days later.

Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel was asked about how the quarterback was cleared to both re-enter the Bills game and take the field against the Bengals.

"For me, as long as I'm coaching here, I'm not going to fudge that," he told reporters. "If there's any inclination that a person has a concussion, they go into the protocol and it's very strict. As long as I'm the head coach that will never be an issue to worry about."

McDaniel also said he was positive Tagovailoa's injury during the game against Buffalo was not a head injury:

Barry Jackson @flasportsbuzz

Asked if he can say with 100 % certainty that Tua didn't have head injury Sunday,McDaniel said yes he can say that, citing there's independent doctor who specializes in this. "People don't stray;we don't mess with that. As long as I'm the head coach, that will never be an issue"

Thursday's was, though, and the quarterback was hospitalized after his head hit the turf on a hard sack from Josh Tupou. The Dolphins announced he is expected to be discharged and fly back with the team Thursday.

"The best news we could get is that everything is checked out and he didn't have anything more serious," McDaniel told reporters. "A concussion and he will be flying back with us on the plane."

It wasn't a certainty that Tagovailoa would even play Thursday's game for much of the week, but NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported in the morning that he would take the field "barring a setback" despite being listed with back and ankle injuries.

The situation was already a talking point because the Dolphins initially announced the injury he suffered against the Bills was to the head. However, McDaniel later told reporters it was a lower back injury that caused Tagovailoa's legs to wobble when he attempted to run.

The NFLPA responded by opening an investigation into how the team handled the concussion protocol and tweeted a message after Thursday's injury that said the investigation remains ongoing:


Player health and safety is at the core of the union's mission. Our concern tonight is for Tua and we hope for a full and speedy recovery. Our investigation into the potential protocol violation is ongoing.

As for the actual game, Teddy Bridgewater came in for Tagovailoa and helped the Dolphins take the lead in the third quarter.

However, the Bengals scored 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, with Bridgewater's interception to Vonn Bell ending Miami's best chance late in the contest.