.As someone used to living in a tropical climate, it can be a severe shock to the system when the environment drastically changes to a much colder setting. Joints freeze up, more effort is needed to do daily tasks. In the case of football players, your performance could go down. Footballs lose 20% pressure, and for a quarterback, that makes a huge difference.
Unfortunately for the Miami Dolphins, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered from that exact scenario. It was clear during last week’s 34-3 loss to the Tennessee Titans, that Tagovailoa was not just having a bad game. The frigid air and pouring rain made it almost impossible for the island native to create any sort of positive momentum.
Tagovailoa had his worst game as a pro by far in what was his biggest opportunity so far. After a seven-game winning streak, all the Dolphins had to do was win two more times. They would be in the playoffs for the first time since 2016. But instead, Tagovailoa went 18-38, for 208 yards and an interception. Even his signature accuracy was severely hampered by the weather. His passes either sailed over the heads of his intended receivers, or bounced at their feet.
It was a wholly unacceptable performance, even in the eyes of Tagovailoa’s most staunch defenders. Tagovailoa was also very self-critical of his performance in that game, refusing to let the weather be an excuse.
“It played somewhat of a role,” Tagovailoa admitted. “But at the game, you got to go out there and you got to execute the plays regardless of the conditions, regardless of what it is. And, that, we just didn’t do enough of.”
It’s admirable that he’s not making excuses for himself. But anyone who watched the game could tell that the weather was having a very adverse effect on Tagovailoa’s game. There seemed to be no preparation for the weather throughout the week. It’s been said that Hall of Fame coach Don Shula allegedly used to soak footballs in ice water before games he knew his team would be playing in awful weather conditions. Many other coaches have similar plans to help their team get acclimated. But this Miami Dolphins squad looked frozen solid. It speaks poorly to the coaching staff for the entire team – not just Tua Tagovailoa – to appear unready for the challenge.
Now the offseason is fast approaching. Tagovailoa has an opportunity to try and show he’s still worth investing in. No matter what, he fully expects the speculation surrounding his future in the NFL to swirl all over again.
“I think people have their own opinions.” He said. “I’ve heard this the entire time I’ve been here so at the end of the day, I can control what I can control and that’s to be the best version of myself for this team. We’ve got to move on to the next game at this point. We’ll look at the mistakes that we’ve made, make some corrections and move on.”
Now with his fate up in the air, Tagovailoa revealed he has a very specific personal training regimen he intends to take into the offseason. One that he hopes will ensure he’s better prepared in the future.
“We do look at the mistakes that we’ve made after every game that we’ve played and see what we can fix to help us become successful so we don’t make those same mistakes. I think for me it’s being able to simulate the cold weather scenario and trying to throw a ball while it’s wet at the same time in cold weather. A lot of the good teams are cold weather teams as well. I think that is something to take into consideration this offseason for myself. I’ll probably go visit my brother or take a trip somewhere that’s cold and kind of get the feel of that.”
Tua Tagovailoa is going to be under scrutiny for not thinking of this sooner. His team may be the Miami Dolphins – for now – but every other AFC East opponent is a cold weather team. Whether it’s fair to criticize him for this or not is irrelevant. It’s already begun. The fan base has already run out of patience with him. He was advertised as the savior of the franchise. He has not lived up to that remarkable title.
Now, Tua Tagovailoa is at a crossroads in his young career. Fair or not, his performance against the New England Patriots could seal his fate with Miami. Or even potential other suitors. Some oddsmakers recently have the Dolphins listed as 6-point underdogs at home against Mac Jones and the visiting New England Patriots. NFL betting sites have them ranked similarly, expecting Miami to be embarrassed one more time, with Tagovailoa laying another egg even with the pressure off.
It may be too late for Tagovailoa in Miami. But a strong performance against the odds to end the season could at least allow him to salvage his career. Before it comes to a cruel and premature end.
Luis Sung has covered the Miami Dolphins for numerous outlets such as Dolphins Wire for seven years. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
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