Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa has been the subject of a great deal of controversy this season. On this week’s More Than Football podcast, PFN’s Chief NFL Analyst Trey Wingo and host Brett Yarris are joined by Super Bowl winner Trent Dilfer to discuss Tua’s NFL prospects.
To watch this episode of the More Than Football podcast, tune in to the video player above. You can also listen to the podcast in the player at the end of the article or on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Trent Dilfer has known Tua Tagovailoa for a long time
Dilfer is a big believer in Tua, saying, “I think he can be a superstar.” Before the draft, however, Dilfer was hesitant to work with Tua. He knows a lot of people involved in the training of NFL quarterback prospects and helped teach most of them. He didn’t want to encroach on what is an incredibly lucrative business.
But Tua was different. Dilfer has known Tua since the former Alabama quarterback was in high school. He was “one of the first people in Tua’s life to tell him the truth — that he wasn’t as good as everybody said he was.” Dilfer says he recognized the potential for Tua to be great, but he knew Tua wasn’t at that point yet. Tua and his family took that advice to heart, and by the time he arrived at Alabama, the young quarterback was a much more refined prospect.
When Tua left Alabama, he was dealing with a serious hip injury, and he needed to work with someone he trusted, someone “that wasn’t just gonna throw him through the gauntlet.”
Working with Dilfer in Nashville was the perfect opportunity. A lot of NFL players train at the high school Dilfer coaches at. And Tua could work with Luke Richardson, an NFL strength and conditioning coach. There was enough gravitas working in this environment while simultaneously being out of the way enough that Tua could avoid the publicity.
Dilfer believes the Deshaun Watson situation has helped Tua
The Miami Dolphins’ flirtation with Deshaun Watson has put Tua in a difficult position. However, Dilfer thinks the Watson fiasco will be beneficial for Miami’s quarterback.
Before this, some had already written Tua off, a decision that Dilfer thinks was far too hasty. After this mess, however, “there’s empathy now for Tua.” People see Tua’s situation, feel bad for him, and want him to succeed.
Tua’s work with Charlie Frye
Another factor that Dilfer believes will work in Tua’s favor is the presence of quarterbacks coach Charlie Frye. Dilfer compares Frye to Kevin O’Connell, the Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator — a young, fresh mind, mentored by smart people.
When Miami hired him, Frye called Dilfer and asked what he should do. Dilfer told him to “build the relationship” first and that the X’s and O’s could come later. That Frye should “make sure he knows that you are the greatest advocate for his career, and then hold him accountable.” That’s what great coach-quarterback relationships are built on.
And while Dilfer believes we will see good but not great from Tua for the rest of this year, thanks to Frye and Tua’s own talents, we will see him make a big jump in 2022.