Schad: This is a different Tua Tagovailoa. And Dolphins will benefit in 2021.
There is zero chance this would have happened last season.
"As Flo would say, 'You don't just wake up and do this,' " Tua said with a smile, when asked about improved timing that's resulted from his offseason workouts with receivers.
Tagovailoa elected to stay in Florida this offseason. He arranged for a group of teammates to get together twice a week for pitch-and-catch.
"He's got the relationships," Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki said, adding in his New Jersey accent, "He's boys with everyone."
Yeah, Tua's got a lot of "braddahs" in that locker room now, as they say in Hawaii. Gesicki went on a bit of rant about how people disrespected Tua without knowing what they were talking about.
Tua made a small bit of news on Wednesday, saying that Miami's play calls were simple when he was in the game last year, because he had not fully mastered the play book.
"I didn't have alerts and checks," Tua said. "It's on me."
This Tua Tagovailoa is speaking up more
There are so many reasons for hope if you're a Dolphins fan. It was clear to those in attendance for Wednesday's voluntary OTA's that Tua is carrying himself differently.
"I've been trying to voice my opinion and be more vocal," Tagovailoa said.
Tagovailoa has improved his conditioning and overall strength.
"Full body," Tua said. "Upper body. Shoulders. Triceps. Biceps. Core. The focus if we had leg day was glutes to support the hip. My hip feels 10 times better than it did last year."
Ten times better. Think about what that might mean to Miami.
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Tua was candid on Wednesday. He was transparent. He was charming. He was likable.
And yes, Tua 2.0 was revealing.
Tua didn't complete enough downfield passes in 2020. There were myriad reasons. But he is now acknowledging that, yes, his body feels better than it did last season. And that he has a better chance to complete those downfield passes to newcomers Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller.
"I'd say I can feel it," Tagovailoa said. "And also from recordings I can see the difference. Physically and mentally I think I'm at a better stage than I was last year."
Will his stronger body result in a better throwing motion? Tua did not dispute it.
"I just think that coming into this year, throwing isn't as much arm this year as it was last year," Tagovailoa said. "It's using my legs, my core, then the arm just follows."
Because Wednesday's open periods were really more about installation and walk-through than practice, it's hard to draw any sweeping conclusions about Tua improving his motion or deep-passing ability. But Tua did appear to be throwing the football better.
Tagovailoa was honest in revealing he needs to do better in getting his team lined up, in cadence, in pre-snap and post-snap reads.
"The whole shebang," Tua said.
George Godsey, Miami's co-offensive coordinator, foreshadowed that with comments earlier this week.
"We’re expecting to see a jump just from being able to retain a lot of the information, whether it’s defensive structure, ID’s, front, coverage," Godsey said. "That initially will be a big part of his improvement."
Tua's got a new beard and haircut, too
Teammates have noticed that Tua's grown his hair (let's say it's a bit Russell Wilson-esque) and grown a beard, too.
"My mom and my grandmother have been telling me to shave it," Tagovailoa quipped. "My dad likes it. But you never know."
Tua asked reporters what they thought of his new look. This was a relaxed, more confident quarterback.
Tagovailoa has the comfort of the promotion of Godsey, who he worked closely with on the sideline during games last season. And Waddle, the lightning-quick rookie receiver, was his teammate at Alabama.
Dolphins players say Tagovailoa is literally projecting a deeper voice.
Earlier in the day, Flores explained that he and the staff spoke with Tagovailoa about improving fundamentals, technique, accuracy and command in the huddle. That's revealing stuff for the typically close-to-the-vest Flores.
"We talk about his presence," Flores said. "His presence in the huddle. His presence in the building."
This version of Tua has a much greater presence. It's apparent. And it's cause for great optimism.