Dolphins’ Mike McDaniel lauds Tua Tagovailoa as QB prepares for pivotal fifth season

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Tua Tagovailoa threw for 4,624 yards last season and earned his first career Pro Bowl nod.

The Miami Dolphins held offseason workouts Tuesday, and Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel took notice of the quarterback’s progress, saying he’s confident the upcoming season will be Tagovailoa’s best yet.

“[Tagovailoa] had two practices last week, and we saw some growth and development within what we’re specifically asking him to do,” McDaniel said.

“So, it’s been very exciting because, at this point, we’re like, ‘All right, well, let’s really push ourselves to really challenge this guy’ because all he ends up doing is rising to the challenge within what we ask him to do. I think to expect the same if not more growth within your game from each year, I don’t think is crazy. I think for us to expect just as much if not more from year two to year three is very safe for our expectations, and I know he feels the same way, too.”

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Mike McDaniel and Tua Tagovailoa

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) talks with Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel during a timeout against the Washington Commanders at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., Dec. 3, 2023. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

The 2024 campaign will be a crucial year for Tagovailoa’s NFL future. The 26-year-old enters the final year of his rookie contract after the Dolphins exercised the quarterback’s fifth-year option in March 2023.

The Dolphins are believed to be engaged in talks about a potential new contract.

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Tagovailoa’s teammates also seemed pleased with how the signal-caller looked during practice.

Tua Tagovailoa and Mike McDaniel

Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel talks with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) prior to a game against the Dallas Cowboys at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., Dec. 24, 2023. (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

“He’s building up that confidence in himself, and you can just tell,” running back Raheem Mostert said. “Even out here making these throws. He’s doing what he needs to do, and that’s what you want to see out of a guy like him.”

McDaniel said he’s noticed more velocity on some of Tagovailoa’s throws, a product of the quarterback’s offseason work with quarterback coach John Beck, who was a quarterback for the Washington Commanders when McDaniel was with the team in 2011.

Tua Tagovailoa vs Bills

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) walks off the field after losing to the Buffalo Bills at Hard Rock Stadium Jan. 7, 2024, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

“Just that connectivity to your game and trying to unearth every single inch and iota of professional development,” McDaniel said, “That, in itself, you’re heading in the right direction.”

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While Tagovailoa’s new physique was noticeable, McDaniel said last offseason’s goal was not simply to add more weight.

“That’s a very understandable misconception,” McDaniel said. “We were not on an offseason weight program last year. It was strength. … His strength increased, but he felt like he could have the same amount of strength and kind of reshape his body and be a little lighter on his feet.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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