Tua Tagovailoa’s arm strength has become the hottest topic surrounding him in this key offseason for the Miami Dolphins quarterback.
Whether he possesses the necessary deep passing ability to make all the throws required of him to succeed in the NFL heading into Year 3 is the biggest question on analysts’ minds.
He’s sponsored by Muscle Milk, coming out with a new commercial in the past month for the high-protein beverage. He just did an interview with Muscle and Fitness Magazine, detailing his workout routine and how he feels he has become stronger this offseason.
Even his mental strength is often chronicled. Does he have what it takes to be a leader as a professional and the mental fortitude to overcome certain challenges presented to him?
But above all, Tagovailoa’s downfield throwing is what is most heavily scrutinized. It’s a polarizing topic with opinions so drastically divided between those that feel his arm strength is deficient and the Tua believers that see no such concerns.
Thursday’s minicamp practice was a day for the latter of the two factions as Tagovailoa connected on a pair of deep throws over the middle to Tyreek Hill in 11-on-11 action — one in stride for a touchdown and one that Hill had to wait for slightly and was marked down at the 5-yard line. The second of the two came near the end of practice. The Dolphins punched in a Tua-to-Hill touchdown two plays later.
Tagovailoa’s two highlight passes to Hill each traveled approximately 50 yards in the air.
“If you saw the third-to-last play that we had, I don’t know if I can throw the ball downfield still,” Tagovailoa said sarcastically following Thursday’s session, throwing a jab at his critics. “However you want to break down that to social media or whatever outlets you guys are with, you do so.”
He said he doesn’t pay attention to the criticism on social media over his passes, much of which was brought on this offseason by a clip posted by the Dolphins’ social media accounts of an underthrown deep ball to Hill before organized team activities.
“For me, it’s just, zone that out,” said Tagovailoa. “We come out to practice. Everyone else, Twitter warriors, keyboard warriors, whatever else you want to call them, they’re not out here practicing with us working hard. I don’t know if you guys recorded that last one to Tyreek . . . I don’t know about you, but that looked like money.”
Previously this offseason, Tagovailoa dismissed the notion that he added more force on his throws. In the Muscle and Fitness interview released Wednesday, however, Tagovailoa detailed that improving his arm strength has been a major offseason goal.
“One of the biggest things for me was building my foundation back up from my feet to my core and then to my arm strength. A lot of what I did was tailored to helping me get my arm stronger,” Tagovailoa said in the interview. “I have seen some improvements on being able to push the ball down the field once again.”
On Thursday, Tagovailoa indicated the top offseason priority was still to get acclimated with the new offense under coach Mike McDaniel.
“I wouldn’t say I put the most emphasis on my downfield throws this offseason just because learning the offense was kind of the biggest thing,” he said.
With much of the Tua talk surrounding his arm strength, what McDaniel liked most on Thursday was that he was mentally strong, bouncing back from a tough practice against Miami’s defense on Wednesday.
“I talked to him [Thursday] specifically where I told him I’ve just been waiting for those moments where you have a slight obstacle,” McDaniel said. “[Wednesday], he had some throws that he demands better of himself. [Thursday] was the first day I got to really evaluate Tua because that is professional quarterback [play] in the National Football League. You’re going to have things that we don’t execute to perfection. You’re going to have people talking about how you’re not performing, and guess what — no one cares. It’s about leading, and he had a ton of energy. I was very, very happy with his effort.”
Tagovailoa was his own harshest critic over Wednesday’s drills.
“[Wednesday’s] practice wasn’t up to the standard that I know our offense can compete at, and it obviously starts with me,” he said. “In particular, there was some ball placement deals that I didn’t particularly like.”
McDaniel also had a witty response to the notion that Tagovailoa’s arm strength won’t allow him to make throws required of him.
“He’s not throwing the ball 85 yards, but I don’t see the practical application of an 85-yard thrower unless you have the best offensive line in the history of football — and the defense is poor to add on rushers when you’re max protecting,” he quipped.
Beyond McDaniel, new Dolphins offensive coordinator Frank Smith and quarterbacks coach Darrell Bevell have made it clear earlier in the offseason that they feel confident Tagovailoa can make all the throws they need from him.
Hill, last week, spoke about how Tagovailoa’s passes are some of the “prettiest” he has caught, and he backed up his quarterback following the video that was heavily criticized with one of a series of in-stride throws. Cornerback Xavien Howard, on Wednesday, said Tagovailoa has been “bombing” the deep ball.
Nevertheless, Tagovailoa will have to do it in regular-season games in the fall — not just June minicamp practices — or questions will likely linger as to whether he can be the Dolphins’ long-term answer at quarterback.
Source: Berkshire mont