Miami Dolphins Minicamp Wrap-Up: Evaluating Tua Tagovailoa Ahead of Year 4

    If he can stay healthy, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is poised for a big 2023, his coaches and teammates say.

    MIAMI GARDENS. Fla. — There was no greater sign of just how far Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa has come in the last 12 months than how little reaction there was to one bad practice.

    After lighting up the Dolphins’ defense for much of spring ball — Tua was so good late in OTAs, he won the orange jersey as the final voluntary practice’s best player — he threw a couple of picks Thursday.

    A year ago, it would have been a headline on every football website in America. In 2023, it was met with a shrug of the shoulders.

    Miami Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa Ready To Soar in Year 4?

    Tagovailoa was on time and smart with the vast majority of his throws during the team’s three-day mandatory minicamp that wrapped Thursday.

    And while it’s foolish to extrapolate too much from a handful of practices in glorified underwear, the improvement year over year is stark.

    MORE: Helmet Cam Gets Mixed Reviews From Tua Tagovailoa

    Don’t take our word for it. Listen to the people with all the information. Here are comments about Tagovailoa from Dolphins coaches and players from the past week.

    Miami Dolphins Coach Mike McDaniel

    “I think Year 2, the prerequisite is that he, as the quarterback, he has to have ownership of everything he’s doing and what everyone else is doing as the facilitator of the offense, and he’s checked that box every day.

    “It’s been really cool in a year’s time, how he’s not only learned the language but is now fluent in it. That opens quarterbacks up to doing some of the components of the job — it’s really hard to try to be the leader of an offense and motivate guys and encourage guys when you need to or maybe be hard on guys when you need to, when you’re just trying to spit out a play and know your own assignment.

    “So this offseason, hoping that I would see a graduation of sorts and really have every single day. That’s first and foremost. For his game, you’re less concerned about the really good plays. Your attention is less drawn to that, and it’s more about consistency of the entire practice. Just like a game where you can have some — he had his games where he made some big-time plays, and then he wasn’t as happy with the rest of the game.

    “So kind of looking at it through that lens, he’s really been one of our more consistent if not — I think he’s been as consistent as anybody day in and day out, which has residual effects to the whole team. I know the team can feel it as well.”

    Offensive Coordinator Frank Smith

    “Year 1 you’re learning a new language, and then Year 2, you’re mastering that language and you’re really putting your flavors on how you see things, your anticipation of routes, how you’re communicating with the guys and what they’re looking to do.

    “So just his growth has been awesome. His understanding and timing and just anticipation and then getting the added chemistry with the guys. Because last year was the first time for all of that. This year now it’s, OK, at this point, we get this — you have increased dialogue of what everyone’s trying to do inside of a play, so he’s been great. Command of the offense is great. Couldn’t be happier with where he’s at.”

    Linebacker Jerome Baker

    “He’s one of those guys that every year he’s trying to get better at every aspect. This year you can tell physically he looks different. Mentally he’s sharp, I don’t think he’s thrown a pick this offseason. (Editor’s Note: Baker spoke on Wednesday.)

    “Mentally, he’s just sharp, and he’s on it. You can tell now that he’s on guys when they are not doing right, and that’s just good to see.”

    Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa

    “[My] biggest growth in terms of comfort? I think, for me, it’s continuing to work on the little things. One of the things that we’ve been harping on has been operation. When I think of my position, I think of what have I done as a leader for the guys up front, for the guys out there to have gotten them better? What have we done?

    “So I think we’ve been doing a great job, working operation, doing some cadence deals, motions, trying to work a lot of things just to give some eye candy for the defense and forcing them to communicate in the back end.”

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