It’s entirely possible that at the end of Dolphins training camp, Tyreek Hill proclaimed that Tua Tagovailoa has the best qualities of Joe Montana, Drew Brees and Johnny Unitas.
Good for the cheetah.
Tua is the NFL’s most accurate quarterback, Hill says.
Tua is an incredible competitor, says Hill.
Tua is the quarterback he wanted to play with, Hill said.
Hill is Tua’s biggest cheerleader at a time when Tua needs her most.
“Skepticism continues to plague Tagovailoa,” The Athletic said in a recent report that ranked Tua as the NFL’s 26th-best quarterback in 2022.
This story didn’t poll fans or reporters and it certainly wasn’t targeting Tua “haters.” No, it was a survey of 50 NFL coaches and executives.
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Yes, there are ardent Tua supporters who are hoping the former Alabama standout can get closer to his billing as the fifth overall pick. He is in better health. He has a new coaching staff. And a new offense. And better weapons.
But, as the Dolphins open training camp in Miami Gardens with Practice 1 on Wednesday morning, nothing is more important than that to Tua: he is surrounded by people who tell him privately and publicly that they believe in him.
Tua enters his third season in the NFL with bruises and scars, that’s for sure. So there’s no doubt that the potential benefits of Tyreek boosting Tua’s psyche and confidence with cheeky commentary far outweighs any worries about the increased pressure.
Pressure is an overused, clichéd and lazy term. There is always pressure.
But, yeah, even Hill said it was basically a season of proof for the quarterback.
No problem with that. The fact that Hill bluntly concedes ‘if you don’t succeed after these years, then it’s a kick, man’, suggests that Hill may really see glimmers of excellence in the 24-year-old.
Hill tends to add color, sure, but it seems he can’t help but blurt out the truths. And so if Hill sees exciting things, we can do it.
That is until Tua shows that with everything in place for him to succeed this season, he can’t. It says here that Tyreek’s comments can help in other ways as well.
Whenever the Dolphins have been talked about over the past two years, from a national perspective, it’s almost exclusively been about Tua. Now Hill is soaking up some of the glare as a national talking point, as it should be. She’s a star.
The Dolphins traded for Hill because they believe he will help Tua and the offense score on the field. But having him on the roster provides another dynamic.
He’s an Alpha, that’s for sure.
“Without trust, you really can’t do anything,” Hill says. “The mind is going to help you get where you want to go.”
And so Tyreek fills Tua’s ears and mind with happy thoughts. A few doses of Aloha Spirit, you might say.
Mike McDaniel, Miami’s first-year head coach, has brought a positive energy to the Dolphins facility that has been lacking in recent years. He asks his players to believe in him and his team and in the idea that what they have in store will work.
Since McDaniel’s arrival, offensive players have said they have become more convinced that McDaniel really knows his “thing”. The most important step in this training camp is for the players to fully buy into what is being taught, even if it’s a little out of their comfort zone.
There’s sure to be some overreaction if and when Tua throws and intercepts or threes in a rainy training camp over the next few weeks. There will definitely be an overreaction if and when Melvin Ingram runs around Austin Jackson or Raekwon Davis bullies Connor Williams and drops Chase Edmonds for a loss.
It will be imperative for Miami’s offensive players, many of whom are new to this city and this organization, to maintain faith in the system and the techniques being taught. There will certainly be some unsightly offensive moments this summer, but in the end McDaniel will assess whether there is continued improvement.
Most bettors expect the Dolphins to finish in 8-9 or 9-8 range. That’s not what Miami is looking for after missing the playoffs the past two seasons despite averaging 9.5 wins.
Brian Flores was kicked out and McDaniel, described by some former colleagues as “brilliant”, “innovative” and a “brain” was hired. Stars like Hill and left tackle Terron Armstead were added in an effort to elevate Miami to another level.
There are plenty of reasons the Dolphins haven’t won a playoff game in 22 years. One thing that was missing was the real belief — external, yes, but more importantly, internal — that Miami deserves to be in a sandbox with the league’s elite.
When McDaniel was hired, he blustered, referencing the playoff drought during his introductory press conference. He took it right away.
“What does the past 20 years have to do with this year? McDaniel said.
Some have shrugged or even smiled at some of the comments Hill has made, particularly about his quarterback, since his arrival.
“All of these people are going to take back their words about what they said about [Tua]”, Hill said. “I’m going to be sitting there eating my popcorn.
Hill said it on his podcast, “It had to be said.”
Maybe he’s right. Maybe yes. It certainly won’t hurt.
Joe Schad is a reporter for the USA TODAY Florida Network’s Palm Beach Post. You can reach him at [email protected] Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.