On Wednesday, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had a chance to respond to recent criticism from ESPN’s Ryan Clark regarding Tua's physique. On Thursday, coach Mike McDaniel was asked about Tua's decision to come to his own defense.
McDaniel was happy to get the question — because he wasn't happy about the narrative.
“I was starting to get annoyed, I was hoping for the opportunity to talk about, if I understand your question correctly, how Tua’s offseason has been," McDaniel told reporters. "I can say hard facts that I’ve seen with my own eyes. And its top five on the team in terms of, we’ve had a lot of guys really stepped their game up.
"If you want to talk about somebody that’s committed to doing what he’s doing for the right reasons, he was already invested before this year, but then taking a bunch of things that have happened, he really put an onus on controlling what he can control. So you want to talk about every metric that [strength and conditioning coach] Dave Puloka and his strength staff really track, which is pretty much everything to the degree of blinks, every metric of strength that is measured, he’s shattered his previous highs. And in some instances, he’s almost twice as strong with things and that’s been a daily commitment that he hasn’t wavered from.
"He’s taken his nutrition to another level. He’s taken his commitment to what he’s trying to do and really thought outside the box and really, really worked at it, so I couldn’t be happier with the work that he’s put in and what I’ve factually viewed from my own eyes. Basically, you’re happy for guys as a coach when you can see in the present that down the road, they’re going to have no regrets, meaning the results are what the results are, but you know that without any shade of gray that you’ve put your best foot forward, and he really he really has. And I think his teammates would agree. We are getting the absolute best version of Tua that’s existed.”
Last year, Tua showed a much greater level of commitment and focus that he had before, illustrated most clearly by his decision to work extensively on the field before games. And if he had played all 17 regular-season games and been available for the playoffs, who knows how far they would have gone?
If he's healthy this year — and if he has improved as much as McDaniel says — the Dolphins could be unstoppable. It all comes down to that first "if."