Miami Gardens, Fla. — Tua Tagovailoa began with a calculated sneer.
“I mean, he probably knows more about me than I do about myself,” said the Miami Dolphins quarterback. “It’s a little strange when other people talk about other people.”
Then it got more serious.
“I come from a Samoan family where respect is everything,” said Tagovailoa. “But it’s come to a point – hey, it’s not that easy, buddy. Because I think we’re very hardcore people, and if we want to get naughty, we can get naughty too.
“I’m just saying.”
Tagovailoa was responding to a question about Recent comments by ESPN analyst Ryan Clark.
Clark, who played defensive back in the NFL for 13 seasons, wondered if Tagovailoa had prioritized his health this season in light of the quarterback being more back in camp. What was Tagovailoa doing this season?
“Let me tell you what it is It wasn’t “He wasn’t in the gym, I bet you,” Clark said on ESPN’s “NFL Live” this week. “Maybe he spent too much time at the tattoo parlor. He wasn’t at the dinner table eating what his dietitian advised. He looks happy. He’s thick.”
“It’s built like the girls (working) at Onyx are in Atlanta now.”
Onyx is an Atlanta-based strip club.
The Dolphins include Tagovailoa at £227 in their current training camp roster. That’s 10 pounds heavier than he’s listed in the team’s media guide for 2022.
Tagovailoa deliberately changed his diet and lifted heavier weights for more repetitions in hopes that a sturdier frame would help him stay on the court. Tagovailoa has struggled with injuries throughout his college and professional career, most recently during the 2022 season where he suffered two diagnosed concussions and a third hit to the head on the turf that the Dolphins described as a back injury.
“Everything I’ve done this season has been what it takes to keep me on the field for the entire season,” said Tagovailoa. “I was just trying to give myself the best chance of not getting injured.”
Even when he doesn’t favor additions to his frame.
“Do you think I wanted to build all that muscle? Nah,” Tagovailoa said. “In a sense, I wanted to go a little lighter. There’s a mixture of things that people don’t understand, that people don’t know that people talk about that are going on behind the scenes.
“So I’d appreciate it if you’d keep my name out of your mouth, that’s what I’m going to say.”
How weight gain can help you
The Dolphins selected Tagovailoa in the first round, fifth overall, of the 2020 NFL Draft. He completed 64.1% of his passes as a junior, throwing for 1,814 yards, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions. Tagovailoa completed 67.8% of attempts in his sophomore campaign, throwing for 2,653 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He missed four games that year with a broken rib.
The Dolphins hired head coach Mike McDaniel to usher in Tagovailoa’s third season, resulting in his most productive and efficient year — when healthy — yet. In 13 games, Tagovailoa completed 64.8% of passes for 3,548 yards, 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Now playing with speed receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, Tagovailoa has improved his passer rating by 15.4 points to 105.5, the best mark in the league.
No one has thrown touchdowns more often at an average of 6.3%, and no one has pinned receivers for more than their average of 8.9 yards per attempt, 9.2 yards per fly attempt or 13.7 yards per completion.
The Dolphins expect Tagovailoa to settle more on offense in his second year in the system. But coaches and players alike know health is the number one concern.
McDaniel, arguably the best player in the league, said earlier in camp that Tagovailoa’s new muscles should help him in “arm wrestling competitions. He’s less likely to be defeated. There are unintended consequences.”
McDaniel then praised how the quarterback’s deliberate coaching translated to the field.
“He has a little bit more explosiveness in the short area, where you can juggle yourself into the pocket with a bit more explosive rate,” McDaniel said. “It seems from the average person’s perspective that he has more throws in his arsenal, as if he can layer things up and command them more commandably than he’s really good at, given his accuracy. So I think that generally helps him feel ready and get a lot done. Of the things And the remnants are visible and clear.
“He has taken his training on his body very seriously this season.”