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Tua Tagovailoa

Tua Tagovailoa adding new weather-based focus to training

.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.

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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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Brian Flores

Brian Flores definitively puts Dolphins QB controversy to rest

Brian Flores is many things, but there is at least one thing he is not. He is not particularly fond of repeating himself. Undoubtedly, that’s a trait he shares with the majority of the world. Who wants to say the same thing over and over as if no one heard you the first time? But it seems that the Miami Dolphins head coach has been dealing with this for the past two weeks, as rumors swirl about the status of QB Tua Tagovailoa.

To be clear, Brian Flores has been saying the same thing all through the offseason. Apparently, in his mind only, Flores has been abundantly clear. All of the outside noise, it doesn’t matter. All of those rumors regarding acquiring Texans star QB Deshaun Watson, more noise. But ever since Yahoo Sports’s Charles Robinson reignited the firestorm with his report of Miami discussing a trade with Houston, it’s been hard to ignore. Flores directly addressed this issue on Tuesday.

“I think there’s always rumors. There’s always speculation.” He said Tuesday. “There’s always some form of distractions and I think as a team we’ve got to block that stuff out and play. I thought they did that yesterday and I think that’s something that all players deal with in the National Football League. There’s always something going on. There’s always something that – some form of speculation or controversy and we just block it out, ignore it and move on.”

But the speculation continued, and it even reached a point where Flores felt compelled to make a statement to the entire team.

A statement that Flores would prefer remains in-house.

“You guys know this, I don’t really get into conversations I have with the team, players.” Flores said on Wednesday. “Those conversations are private. Like I’ve said before, I think it’s just common courtesy to keep those conversations between myself and the player or the team. I will say that Tua is our quarterback, I think he’s had a good training camp, I think he’s made a lot of progress. I think he’s made a lot of improvement and we’re pleased with where he is. He’s going through his preparations for New England the way he should be, and that’s where we are as a team.”

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Now that should have been enough. He said Tua Tagovailoa is the starting quarterback. But speculation continued, because Flores still hadn’t outright said that Miami was not interested in Deshaun Watson. So again the question was asked. Is Tua Tagovailoa the starter? And again, Flores repeated himself. This time though, the frustration came through.

“I don’t know if I can be more clear. I don’t know how many times – I don’t know how much more clear I can be here.” Flores said. “Tua is the starter. Do I need to say it again? I will.”

Later that same day, Tua Tagovailoa added his own comments. He made it clear he appreciated his coach coming up to bat for him.

“I think it means a lot with it coming from the head coach. The support that I have from him and from the team, it means a lot. But for me, I’m just focused literally on trying to get our guys ready for next week.”

Even if Brian Flores doesn’t say the specific words everyone’s looking for, the message is clear. Not to mention the message has been consistent all offseason long. The answer is always the same. Tua Tagovailoa is the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins. Maybe there is some truth to the rumors that owner Stephen Ross wants Deshaun Watson.

On the other hand, several reports came out that Ross won’t force football decisions and has faith in Tagovailoa. That should be the end of the discussion. Brian Flores is as clear as he can possibly be. He isn’t going to make an official statement about Deshaun Watson, no matter how much anyone pries. He’s been consistent about that ever since he arrived in 2019, and he reiterated that philosophy last Sunday after the Bengals game.

“Reports (and) speculation are not things we really get into. Look, I understand the question; but as I’ve said in the past, any conversations we have or don’t have with other clubs are going to be internal. I’ve been pretty steadfast about that – with our players, with other clubs – and that will remain the case.”

Will this satisfy the skeptics who still insist the Miami Dolphins aren’t happy with Tua Tagovailoa? Probably not. But Brian Flores isn’t going to change his personal philosophy just to appease the media or the fan base. However, there is a counterargument. Why would Brian Flores be so evasive about Deshaun Watson, and yet so definitive about Xavien Howard when rumors swirled around him?

Everyone will remember last month when Brian Flores went on record to tell the media to write down they didn’t want to trade Xavien Howard. He couldn’t have been more clear. So why not do the same now for Tua Tagovailoa and Deshaun Watson?

The simple answer: He’s been clear about Tagovailoa. But Watson is not on the team. Therefore, Flores is not commenting. Is it the best strategy? That’s up for debate. Nevertheless, that’s who Brian Flores is, and everyone just needs to accept that.

The easy way to make this all go away, obviously, is for Tagovailoa to become the player he was in college. All preseason signs point to that being the case this season. If Miami wins games, if the offense looks good, the Watson talk will vanish into the ether. If he struggles, however, Flores has a lot of repeating himself to look forward to. He’s put down the rumors every which way, but there’s only one thing that will kill them.

As the old saying goes: Winning cures all.

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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Deshaun Watson

Should the Dolphins Trade for Deshaun Watson?

The Deshaun Watson trade rumors began to heat up again Saturday when multiple reports came out saying that the Miami Dolphins were considered to be  “frontrunners” to land the 25-year-old star quarterback.

Why the Dolphins should trade for Deshaun Watson:

Miami’s front office has constructed one of the best overall rosters that the Dolphins have had in decades. They arguably have one of the best defenses in the league, demonstrated last season by leading the league in defensive takeaways. They’ve also done a good job of bolstering their offense by adding speedy receivers Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle. In addition to that, it seems that they have finally found the right coach in Brian Flores.

For years, the biggest question mark in Miami has been the quarterback. Tagovailoa looked shaky in the nine games he appeared in last season as a rookie. A superstar quarterback like Deshaun Watson could be just what the Dolphins need to take them to the next level. Watson already has good chemistry with Will Fuller from their days in Houston. If the Dolphins feel this team is a quarterback away from being legitimate Super Bowl contenders, then it might be time to get aggressive and go all-in on Deshaun Watson. 

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Why the Dolphins should not trade for Deshaun Watson:

There’s no denying Watson is a greater talent than Tagovailoa. However, there are many possible cons to bringing a guy like Watson in. The number one concern with Watson is his legal issues. There are currently 22 ongoing civil lawsuits against Watson from massage therapists claiming Watson engaged in some form of sexual misconduct with them. The Dolphins could be making a colossal mistake bringing in a guy who might have to go to jail midseason.

Also, the Texans are currently asking for a King’s ransom in return for Watson. The current asking price is three first round picks and two second round picks. Also, isn’t it a little late to be trading for a starting quarterback? Tagovailoa has been running this offense for the entire preseason and training camp. Bringing in Watson this close to the season could result in early season struggles for Miami while Watson gets adjusted to the Dolphins scheme. 

Goldman’s Opinion:

Before all of the legal allegations surfaced, I was the number one supporter of a trade involving the Miami Dolphins and Deshaun Waston. I believe in the way this roster is constructed. And I think a quarterback like Watson would put the Dolphins in the same category as the Bills, Chiefs, Bucs, and Packers. The Dolphins have a history of “almost” landing big name quarterbacks. First with Drew Brees not passing his physical, then failing to land Peyton Manning in 2011.

Missing out on Watson would have the Dolphins going for the hat trick. Also the Dolphins have the best assets to make a deal with the Texans. Tua Tagovailoa would most likely be used as a bargaining chip in this deal. In addition to Tua, the Fins would probably have to give up at least one first round pick. That isn’t that big of a deal for Miami because they stocked up on draft picks by moving back in this offseason’s draft. On paper this seems like a no-brainer for Miami. However these legal allegations do raise a high level of concern.

Grier needs to do his homework on this one. If there is any part of his mind that thinks these legal allegations could become a big problem then he should not make the trade. He needs to be 100% sure, but if Grier and the rest of the Dolphins front office can get 100% sure about this then I would absolutely advise them to pull the trigger on Watson. Generational QB talents like Watson don’t become available all too often.

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Will Fuller

Dolphins WR Will Fuller making long-awaited return

It’s been a long time coming. Not since Thanksgiving of last year has veteran wide receiver Will Fuller officially touched an NFL football field. Finally, on Monday, Fuller dressed fully and participated with his new Miami Dolphins teammates in practice.

“I haven’t played a game in a long time – since I guess Thanksgiving.” Fuller said on Monday. “That’s just something I have to work out through practice and shake that rust off. I feel pretty good, though. I’m out here running routes today and I feel pretty good.”

As of now, Fuller is the only wide receiver who hasn’t had much of a chance to work with QB Tua Tagovailoa. They did spend some time together in the offseason, running basic routes and building timing. But all of that was done on their own time. Now, everyone will get a chance to see what Fuller brings to the offense designed specifically for Tagovailoa. The very same offense that already boasts the likes of Albert Wilson, Mike Gesicki, and electrifying rookie Jaylen Waddle, among others.

“This is probably one of the deepest and talented receiving corps that I’ve been a part of, just as far as all of the guys.” Fuller said. “We all can get it done and of course the tight ends as well and the running backs. It’s been fun to watch these guys. I’m excited to get out there with them and put my best out there.”

Now with two consecutive days of practice under his belt, signs point to Fuller finally being healthy. Injuries have been the story of his career so far. His talent is undeniable, and his speed is deadly. Unfortunately, it’s his health that’s the biggest question mark. Since being drafted in the first round by the Houston Texans in 2016, Fuller has missed 27 games in five seasons thanks to nagging injuries.

“Those guys are working hard to get back.” Head coach Brian Flores said on Tuesday. “I wouldn’t say there’s any worry, it’s more they’re working to get back. They’ll be out there today. From that standpoint I know they are doing everything they can and that’s really all we can ask of them. That’s kind of the approach I take. Injuries happen … All that we can ask is that they do everything they can to get back as quickly as they can. All the guys who are dealing with nicks and bruises are doing what they can to get back.”

However, there is a more telling story with Will Fuller. When DeAndre Hopkins was in Houston, Fuller had to share the glory. Hopkins always had the spotlight as a perennial All-Pro wide receiver. Once Hopkins left to Arizona, however, everything changed. Quarterback Deshaun Watson now relied on Fuller to be his top target, and he took advantage of that chance. 2020 was Fuller’s best statistical year yet, as he logged 53 catches for 879 yards and eight touchdowns. The craziest thing of all, is that Fuller only played in 11 games last season. Which means he put those numbers up while still missing five games.

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If Fuller had played the whole season, who knows what he could have done? Now, it’s Tua Tagovailoa who will get the chance to benefit from Fuller’s presence, and he spoke about how happy he was to have the veteran back in practice at last on Wednesday.

“It’s good to have all of our guys back out here, to be able to work some timing and to be able to get some work in with them.” Tagovailoa said. “I think just them being able to get back into the huddle, hear calls, get out, know where they’re lining up at and then executing with them, I think that’s very important.”

The Miami Dolphins offense already looks vastly improved even without Will Fuller on the field. It’s hard to imagine how much better it can look with Fuller added to the equation. Perhaps, if he can stay healthy, Miami may feel compelled to offer him a big extension. Fuller signed a 1-year, almost fully guaranteed $10,625,011 contract with the Dolphins, both cashing in and betting on himself simultaneously.

Will Fuller is betting he can stay healthy. He’s betting that Tua Tagovailoa is ready to make a huge jump in his career and make him look good. If he wins those bets, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Fuller will be a very rich man in 2022 and beyond.

Luis Sung has covered the Miami Dolphins for numerous outlets such as Dolphins Wire for seven years. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung

Everything Tradeshows is a one-stop-shop for trade show exhibit rentals and custom exhibit display purchase solutions to companies of all sizes.

Visit them at everythingtradeshows.com or call 954-791-8882

 

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