DAVIE, Fla – Tua Tagovailoa believes he can be the Miami Dolphins’ franchise quarterback but knows he’ll have to prove it with a better game in year 2.
Tagovailoa has had a rookie season in which he finished with a completion rate of 64.1%, 14 touchdowns and five interceptions 6-3. But the former Alabama star was replaced twice by veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter and struggled at times to effectively throw the ball into the field.
Tagovailoa was asked if he believes Miami is betting all-in on him as the franchise quarterback.
“In my head and in my heart, I would hope so,” Tagovailoa said Monday during an interview with Sirius Mad Dog Radio. “The way it went last year, you always have to prove yourself to do better and I want to do better.”
Dolphins coach Brian Flores told ESPN last month that he was “excited about the future with Tagovailoa” and that the Dolphins believe in him. Chris Grier, general manager of Dolphins, also said last month that Tagovailoa is their starting quarterback and they are happy with his development.
This off-season will prove whether the Dolphins’ strong public engagement for Tagovailoa is in line with their actions. There may be several options available, including the unfortunate Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter recently reported that Watson requested a trade while ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that Watson has Miami high on his list of preferred trading destinations. The Dolphins are one of the few teams with a draft capital that may spark a Watson trade.
Tagovailoa told Sirius Mad Dog Radio that he didn’t hear the Watson trade rumors until his agent told him about them, but “that would be something I still couldn’t control.”
“That would be a decision by the Dolphins organization,” he said. “I have to control what I can control – work hard and do well next season.”
Tagovailoa was also honest in his assessment of his 2020 season, saying he would “describe my rookie season as subpar. This past season did not live up to the expectations I have of myself.”
If the dolphins move on Tagovailoa as their current plan is, the focus would be on improving it in the second year. He told the Dan Patrick Show that there is “a big difference” in his health this off-season compared to last year when he had major hip replacement surgery, and he can look forward to improving his mental elements this year Focus game.
The Dolphins had a goal of building around Tagovailoa as early as the start of the 2021 off-season, including hiring former Elite 11 high school camp coach Charlie Frye as their quarterbacks coach. They also spent a lot of time in the Senior Bowl getting to know the Alabama Star Receiver DeVonta Smith and run back Najee Harris;; Both cater for the Dolphins’ offensive needs, have a good relationship with Tagovailoa, and could be an option for Miami to choose on any of their first round draft picks (# 3 and # 18).
When asked by Sirius Mad Dog Radio about reuniting with Smith, Tagovailoa admitted the two have spoken a couple of times about rekindling their Crimson Tide magic this off-season. He noted that it would be “very special” and “very exciting”, citing their chemistry.