Instead of talking about the Dolphins’ offense and his goals for the 2023 season, Tua Tagovailoa fielded questions Wednesday about recent criticisms fired in his direction, specifically his offseason conditioning and overall workout plan. As you can imagine, Tagovailoa didn’t appreciate the remarks, and he let everyone know that.
Tagovailoa responded to recent criticism from former NFL safety and current ESPN analyst Ryan Clark. On Tuesday, Clark took a not-so-subtle shot at Tagovailoa’s offseason training and whether or not he took the advice of a nutritionist.
“He probably knows more about me than I know about myself,” Tagovailoa said, via NFL Media. “I don’t know. Ryan’s been out of the league for some time. I don’t know. It’s a little weird when other people are talking about other people and they’re not that person. So, I don’t know. It’s just a little weird.
“My background, I come from a Samoan family. Respect is everything. But, you know, it does get to a point where, hey, a little bit easy on that, buddy. I think we’re pretty tough-minded people, and if we need to get scrappy, we can get scrappy, too. Just saying.”
Among Tagovailoa’s plans this past offseason was to build up muscle to better protect himself, specifically when he gets thrown to the ground. It appears that Tagovailoa has done that, albeit somewhat reluctantly as he said on Wednesday that he would prefer to be lighter.
“I think we all worked hard throughout the offseason,” he said. “I’m not someone to talk about myself the entire time, but it takes a lot. You think I wanted to build all this muscle? To some extent. I wanted to be a little lighter. There’s a mixture of things that people don’t understand that people don’t know about that are talked about that go behind the scenes.
“I’d appreciate if you kept my name out of your mouth. That’s what I would say.”
The best revenge is living well, however, and that’s what Tagovailoa has done throughout training camp. By all accounts, the former fifth overall pick has enjoyed a solid summer of training that included his performance in Miami’s recent preseason game in Houston, when Tagovailoa led a 14-play, 93-yard drive that was capped off by a Raheem Mostert touchdown run. Tagovailoa went 5 of 6 on the drive that included three third-down conversions.
During Tuesday’s practice, Tagovailoa showed off his deep ball accuracy when he hit Tyreek Hill for two big plays. Those plays were reminders of what Tagoviloa’s success on deep passes last season; his eight touchdown passes of 40-plus yards was more than anyone else in the NFL.
The former Heisman Trophy winner is hoping to build off of a 2022 season that saw him lead the NFL in touchdown/interception ratio. Tagovailoa also went 8-5 as a starter while playing an integral role in the Dolphins making the playoffs for the first time in five years.
The 2022 season also saw Tagovailoa suffer multiple head injuries that included a scary moment during Miami’s Week 4 loss to the Bengals. Tagovailoa was inactive for Miami’s final three games that included the Dolphins’ 34-31 postseason loss to Buffalo in the wild-card round.
Tagovailoa appears to be healthy now as he enters his fourth NFL season. He also appears to be more motivated than ever to have success while silencing his critics on the outside.