The offseason is all about building and progress for the upcoming 2021 NFL season. For the Miami Dolphins and second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, they need to continue to trust the process. After a noticeable disappointing practice that had Tagovailoa throwing five interceptions in a rainy practice setting, NFL casuals and troll media analysts at the level wanted to bash him for being overrated or a bust. Most were saying this not even a year after his serious hip surgery and when he took over Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starting quarterback.
One practice later, Tagovailoa had a much more efficient display of getting the passes around to his receivers. While Tagovailoa still has much to prove, he is ready for primetime.
Tua Tagovailoa Looking for a Bounce Back Sophomore Season
Recap of 2020 NFL Season
It was remarkable to see Tagovailoa on the field, less than a year from his terrible hip injury. As expected, Tagovailoa didn’t start the season for the Dolphins as he was on the bench to learn the offense and the feel of NFL game condition. Fitzpatrick was the mentor to Tagovailoa for the season as he attempted to catch up to learn the offense. Tagovailoa didn’t see action until week six of the 2020 season in the 24-0 win over the New York Jets. He received the job as starting quarterback for the Dolphins in week seven versus the Los Angeles Rams.
There were several great moments with Tagovailoa as the starting quarterback, but offensive coordinator Chan Gailey called more conservative and short plays with Tagovailoa on the field.
As Tagovailoa faced the pressure of the job, constant pressure from the lack of efficient blocking, and the constant short-yard plays, Fitzpatrick was inserted back as the starter. When Fitzpatrick was on the field, the offense was more aggressive in deeper passes. Coach Gailey felt Tagovailoa wasn’t ready for longer throws. According to Pro Football Focus, Tagovailoa’s big-time throw rate was 2.3 percent, the lowest in the NFL. Tagovailoa was held back by his hip injury and the lack of full comprehension of the offense. His biggest problem was the lack of trust by coach Gailey.
Tagovailoa finished the season throwing 1,814 yards, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions on 186 completions (out of 290 passing attempts). He was sacked 20 times this past season as well.
Tua Tagovailoa Still Finding His Rhythm
Just one season after an up-and-down rookie season last year, Tagovailoa took the offseason to develop his passing and body back to 100 percent. This offseason would be the first full offseason that Tagovailoa had since going into his junior season at Alabama. With the early practices for the Dolphins, head coach Brian Flores wanted to test out the limits at each position group. Specifically, he wanted to spot out the flaws that each major player possessed in practice.
After learning of flaws, Flores and his coaching staff would build on those player’s performance attributes. On the following day in practice, Tagovailoa was highly efficient in getting the ball to his receivers. From short-yards to long throws, Tagovailoa’s passes were consistent as he drove the offense down the field.
Bounce Back Sophomore Season For Tua Tagovailoa
The effects of COVID-19 didn’t allow Tagovailoa to fully learn the offense, much like Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert weren’t able to either. Tagovailoa is facing the most pressure of all second-year quarterbacks in the league. Several media analysts believed that the Dolphins should give up on Tagovailoa and attempt to trade for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson or draft Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. The hate for Tua was constant as the job security for Tagovailoa remains a topic of discussion.
New Dolphins offensive coordinators George Godsey and Eric Studesville will look to progress Tagovailoa mentally and physically. It will be up to Tagovailoa to respond, but the team is building big-time weapons around him. They started with the free-agent additions of wide receivers Will Fuller V and Lynn Bowden.
In the 2021 NFL Draft, the Dolphins acquired Tagovailoa’s former teammate in wide receiver Jaylen Waddle. Both players have a solid personal connection with each other on and off the field. There have been reports that the electrifying route running and explosiveness in screen catches from Waddle is already huge for the offense. The Dolphins also continue to upgrade the offensive line, which was up-and-down last season. They acquired Notre Dame offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg in the second round (42nd overall pick) of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Finally, Tagovailoa has two solid tight end options in Mike Gesicki and the newly acquired Boston College tight end, Hunter Long. With a full offseason of preparations, time to fully heal, more solid supporting casts, and coaches that believe and will challenge Tagovailoa, he could have a big breakout sophomore season in 2021.
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