How Mike McDaniel realized Dolphins' Tua Tagovailoa should be checked for concussion

MIAMI GARDENS — Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel was watching film the morning after the Dolphins' loss to the Packers and he began to feel something was off about Tua Tagovailoa.

"Which provoked some direct questioning with a high degree of concern," McDaniel recalled Wednesday.

Tagovailoa had, in fact, sustained a concussion during that game, doctors later concluded. And Tagovailoa revealed to doctors that he had symptoms that has put him into protocols for a second time this season.

Veteran Teddy Bridgewater is slated to start for Miami in a critical game at New England on Sunday. And while the Dolphins feel fortunate to have an accomplished backup, everyone is concerned for Tua.

Dec 25, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) signals at the line of scrimmage during the first half against the Green Bay Packers at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

"This is a human being," McDaniel said. "I'll do what the medical experts advise me to do."

"I'm going to say this, as a person, I don't want anybody to, you know, ever experience anything like that, because it sucks," Miami receiver Tyreek Hill said.

"I was shocked," Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert said. "I totally didn't realize that Tua went through that. But it also kind of made sense towards the end of the game. You know, I was asking myself in the huddle, like, ‘What are we doing?’"

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Tagovailoa tossed three fourth-quarter interceptions, including on a miscommunication with Mostert. It's entirely possible that Tua hitting the back of his helmet on the field near the end of the first half affected his performance.

Obviously, at the time, nobody at the game was alarmed by the play. A joint NFL-NFLPA review of the application of the concussion protocol will occur.

What is most concerning now is that Tua has two diagnosed concussions and has been evaluated for head injuries following three incidents in a span of about three months.

"Man, this a violent game," Miami receiver Jaylen Waddle said. "It kind of comes with the game though. You know, it's something that we got to deal with long term. But, you know, sadly it's part of our game. It's physical. We go to war each and every week. So it's definitely something serious but is a part of the game."

Waddle is close with Tua, his college teammate at Alabama.

On Wednesday, Waddle said he felt Tua was "in good spirits" and would help the team prepare for New England. Tagovailoa was at the Dolphins' facility.

McDaniel said he's not focused on any timelines, only Tua's recovery. McDaniel did say that Tua was doing better on Wednesday than Tuesday.

Although the Dolphins have lost four straight games, Tagovailoa still leads the NFL in passer rating. This is a significant blow at a significant moment.

"The New England Patriots don't care about our feelings," McDaniel said. "(Our team is) very aware about that. I see a very focused and determined group that recognizes the opportunity within the adversity."

Hill said the team has confidence in any and all Miami quarterbacks.

"The vibe is good," Hill said. "Every, everything's good, man. I just feel like we just got to continue doing what we do. Just finish games. Leaders got to lead and leaders got to make plays."

Joe Schad can be reached at

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Tua Tagovailoa's second concussion in three months causes Dolphins concern