Tua Tagovailoa, after being drafted No. 5 overall in 2020, had to wait his turn to start at quarterback for the Dolphins. But he thinks he was meant to sit behind Ryan Fitzpatrick for seven games — and will be a much-impoved second-year QB because of it.
“I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason,” Tagovailoa told Sporting News. “Everything played out the way it’s supposed to play out. I got to learn a lot from Fitzpatrick — he’s a great guy. At the same time, I also got the opportunity to get in the game, get some playing time”
With Fitzpatrick heading into free agency, it’s unlikely that Miami brings back the well-traveled veteran to either back up or toggie with Tagovailoa. Even though it was only one season, Tagovailoa expects to keep benefiting from the strong relationship.
“It was big — very big — to have Ryan. A lot of the guys who have been very successful in the NFL, they’ve been mentored by guys before them. Ryan’s been in the league for 16 years. He knows the ins, the outs, the personnel, in terms of guys we’re playing against. He helped out in trying to simplify things. He was a great asset in helping me become a better football player.”
Tagovailoa won’t be the only second-year starting QB in the NFL from Alabama in 2021. He will be joined by the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts after Philadelphia traded Carson Wentz to Indianapolis. Tagovailoa, who succeeded Hurts as the Crimson Tide’s starter in 2018, hopes they can thrive and break out as pros together.
“It’s something pretty cool. Me and Jalen go way back at Alabama. Seeing him have the success there and later at Oklahoma, just seeing that growth and now he’s balling in the NFL, too,” Tagovailoa said. “I’m just really happy for him and wish him all the best.”
The Dolphins’ biggest immediate task is figuring out how to give Tagovailoa a stronger supporting cast for his sophomore season. They could use upgrades at both offensive tackle and wide receiver. When Miami picks first at No. 3 overall, former Alabama wideouts DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle will be among the best players available.
Although Tagovailoa would love throwing to either Smith or Waddle again in the NFL, he has total trust in coach Brian Flores and general manager Chris Grier hitting on the best fit for his current team.
“It would be a lot of run to reconnect with a former teammate. It helps them, too, already to have that connection prior to being drafted,” he said. “If we do end up getting one of them, cool. But that’s a decision that Coach Flores and Chris will have to make, and it’s a tough decision for them. I’m glad I’m not making that decision.”
Tagovailoa is well past the hip injury recovery that limited him before his selection by the Dolphins in the 2020 draft. He’s now taking advantage of having a full, close-to-normal year ahead as an NFL QB.
“It feels good because I never had an offseason. Now, to be able to focus on strength, speed and my accuracy — the things I need to get better with — it definitely helps me a lot.”
Tagovailoa talked to Sporting News representing Muscle Milk and their special “Tua Days” campaign. It’s not close to training camp yet, but the Dolphins’ promising passer is treating March like the heat of the preseason preparations.
“It’s always ‘Tua Days’ for me. It’s almost three-a-days. I wake up in the morning, have a workout session from 7 to 8:30 and then I have an on-field training session at 9. After I eat lunch, I then get my work in the film room.”
“Muscle Milk has been a big part of my regimen. That’s why I’ve been working with them, to reinforce recovery and everyday fitness. It’s a natural partnership with a product I’ve always had.”
Muscle Milk is partnering with Tagovailoa to promote the second “workout” as the time that matters most for recovery. Protein is essential for recovery when dealing with a grueling training schedule. That’s why Muscle Milk is promoting 20 percent off select products on Amazon through March 7 with the code 20TUADAYS so consumers can purchase Muscle Milk for their own “Tua Days” workouts.