Tua Tagovailoa has had a dramatic yr. Whereas he was chosen No. 5 total within the 2020 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins, he was on the identical time recovering from a significant hip harm that had many questioning about his future as an NFL quarterback. Even after Tagovailoa was inserted into the beginning lineup in Week 8 and gained three straight video games, Dolphins head coach Brian Flores opted to bench him in Week 11, after which once more in Week 16 regardless of at all times sustaining the rookie was his beginning quarterback. When the mud settled on the finish of the common season, Tagovailoa had gone 6-3 as a starter and had thrown for 1,814 yards, 11 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
There’s loads of purpose to be excited in regards to the future in terms of the Dolphins’ new quarterback, as Tagovailoa grew to become the third rookie signal-caller within the Tremendous Bowl period to not throw an interception in his first five-career begins, and have become the primary Dolphins rookie quarterback to win every of his first three begins. He additionally grew to become the primary Dolphins participant to steer a game-winning drive within the fourth quarter or extra time inside his first two NFL begins since Chad Henne. Sadly, with the offseason got here new points Tagovailoa could not management, because the Dolphins are at present rumored to be within the combine for Houston Texans star quarterback Deshaun Watson, who’s in search of a change of surroundings. If Watson is traded to Miami this offseason, the deal would seemingly embrace Tagovailoa as effectively.
This week, CBS Sports activities sat down with Tagovailoa to debate his rookie marketing campaign and what he has been making an attempt to perform this offseason. With uncertainty surrounding his present scenario, Tagovailoa says he turns to what he can management — and that is how he can enhance as a participant and a frontrunner. The approaching months will probably be about getting again to 100% well being, and getting ready for a breakout yr.
Lately, Tagovailoa posted photos of himself figuring out this offseason that generated fairly a little bit of consideration. It regarded as if he was constructing muscle, and Tagovailoa advised us “getting his physique” again was vital for him this offseason.
“Actually simply making an attempt to get my physique again, it is the primary time I’ve had an actual offseason so simply making an attempt to get stronger, making an attempt to get quicker, making an attempt to get again to how I used to look … again at Alabama,” Tagovailoa laughed. “Simply making an attempt to get higher with these issues so far as the offseason.”
It took fairly a while to totally get well from the hip harm he suffered whereas at Alabama, however Tagovailoa additionally handled foot and thumb accidents throughout his rookie marketing campaign that compelled him to overlook a Week 12 matchup in opposition to the New York Jets.
Tagovailoa stated that one of many largest classes he discovered in his first NFL season was about in-game changes. Breaking down schemes and packages opposing defenses are throwing at you on a drive-by-drive foundation, and really taking management of an NFL offense stuffed with veteran gamers, versus your fellow collegiate athletes, was a problem.
“I might say changes, you bought to regulate on the fly,” Tagovailoa stated when requested about what he discovered in his transition to the NFL. “If the protection offers you a distinct idea that you have not seen, you bought to know the right way to regulate together with your guys and inform them the way you need issues completed. You are a coach on the market. With that being stated, I feel that is what I must get higher with, too. However I am glad to get that first yr below my belt.”
Success below Saban
Getting that first NFL season below his belt is vital, as a result of if there’s one factor Tagovailoa is aware of, it is the right way to deal with strain and make these sorts of changes to search out success. His introduction to the sports activities world at massive got here by way of probably the most dangerous in-game changes ever made by legendary Alabama head coach Nick Saban. Tagovailoa, who was a real freshman on the time, changed Jalen Hurts at halftime of the 2018 Faculty Soccer Nationwide Championship recreation, and helped the Crimson Tide rally from a 13-0 deficit to win 26-23 in extra time in opposition to Georgia. That marked the start of a really profitable school profession, as Tagovailoa completed his junior season as Alabama’s profession landing duty chief with 96. His 87 landing passes moved him previous AJ McCarron for essentially the most thrown in program historical past, and he completed third in Alabama historical past with 7,442 passing yards.
Tagovailoa’s entrance into the NFL wasn’t as dramatic, however his stance on himself, his group and successful has by no means modified — and that grew to become clear once we requested him what the most effective “highs” he skilled had been in his first skilled season. It wasn’t his first landing go or his first-career begin or first comeback victory. It was any Sunday his group got here out on prime.
“The best moments I had had been when we gained,” Tagovailoa stated. “Anytime that we gained, these had been the highs. However however, the lows are while you lose and when you do not obtain what you got down to obtain earlier than the season began.”
So what does Tagovailoa want to enhance to maintain Miami within the win column in 2021? Amongst many issues, he says it is about his preparation.
“For me, it is in regards to the little issues — the little particulars about my recreation,” Tagovailoa stated. “Extra so the right way to put together numerous the time. What to search for, the right way to watch movie, what to do while you’re watching movie.”
Tagovailoa can be engaged on being a frontrunner off of the sector this offseason. Lately, he teamed up with USAA, the official NFL Salute to Service associate, to attach with army veteran Kerry Smith, who was chosen as one of many 5 grand-prize winners of USAA’s Salute to Service Sweepstakes. Smith bought to interact in a digital hangout with Tagovailoa and gained a number of different prizes.
“You already know I’ve numerous relations that served within the army so I’ve a deep appreciation for these guys,” Tagovailoa stated.
The Dolphins ought to make huge strides this offseason by the use of the 2021 NFL Draft, as they’ve two first-round picks together with the No. 3 total decide due to a earlier commerce with the Texans. It is believed the Dolphins may goal a large receiver with that prime decide, and lots of are projecting Miami will choose Tagovailoa’s former teammate in DeVonta Smith — who caught the game-winning go from Tagovailoa in extra time of the 2018 Nationwide Championship recreation.
Smith grew to become the first receiver since 1991 to win the Heisman Trophy, after a season through which he caught 117 passes for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns. Within the Faculty Soccer Playoff Nationwide Championship in opposition to Ohio State, he caught 12 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns — all within the first half! Smith stated final month that he and Tagovailoa have mentioned the opportunity of “working it again” along with the Dolphins, and it could positively be one thing that might assist Tagovailoa in his improvement as a quarterback as effectively. Once we requested Tagovailoa how he thinks Smith goes to fare within the NFL, he could not assist however giggle.
“I feel his transition to the following degree will probably be kinda … slim to none,” Tagovailoa stated. “In a means the place it will not be a lot altering. I feel the competitors will probably be totally different for him clearly, however he will probably be greater than nice. I do know lots of people say he is too small or too skinny, however his movie speaks for itself. He goes out and takes care of his enterprise, does what he must do. They do not name him the ‘Slim Reaper’ for no purpose.”
Not many rookie quarterbacks have needed to face the sort of adversity and outdoors noise that Tagovailoa has needed to over the previous yr, however that is not going to faze him. The chances, the commerce rumors, the fixed questioning can solely take your focus away out of your aim, which for Tagovailoa is successful video games and in the end successful a Tremendous Bowl.
“Our aim has at all times been the identical — you wanna win as many video games as you possibly can and as many as you want to have the ability to get into the playoffs, win your division and get to the (Tremendous Bowl) and attempt to win that,” stated Tagovailoa. “I feel that is at all times going to be the aim.”