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Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa says his hip and confidence are both improved entering Year 2

When examining the Miami Dolphins’ potential in 2021, it seemingly comes down to one player: quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft had a very peculiar rookie season. After being inserted into the starting lineup in Week 8 and winning his first three games, Dolphins head coach Brian Flores opted to bench him in Week 11, and then again in Week 16. In all, Tagovailoa went 6-3 as the starter and threw for 1,814 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. 

Tagovailoa still stood out during his rookie season, as he became just the third rookie signal-caller in the Super Bowl era to not throw an interception in his first five career starts, and became the first Dolphins rookie quarterback to win each of his first three starts. Tagovailoa is going to have to win more games in Year 2 if he wants to retain the coveted title of franchise quarterback, however.

The former Alabama star was once seen as the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, but a serious hip injury caused his stock to take a dip while LSU’s Joe Burrow experienced unprecedented success at the same time. Questions about Tagovailoa’s health carried into the 2020 regular season, but the young signal-caller revealed this week that he’s finally feeling better and he’s more confident because of it. 

“My hip feels 10 times better than it did last year, and the confidence level for myself, I feel really confident coming into this second year after the injury two years ago,” Tagovailoa said, according to Safid Deen of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. 

Tagovailoa’s hip bothered him in some way early in his rookie season, but to what extent is unknown. It became clear that this offseason was primarily about his health and his body when we spoke to Tagovailoa in February. 

“Really just trying to get my body back, it’s the first time I’ve had a real offseason so just trying to get stronger, trying to get faster, trying to get back to how I used to look … back at Alabama,” Tagovailoa said.

A physically healthy Tagovailoa could be an entirely different kind of player, but it’s the internal confidence boost that could be what really matters. If he’s finally back to 100% health, Tagovailoa will feel more comfortable in using his athleticism and also in throwing the football from different angles. As my colleague Chris Trapasso wrote when exploring Tagovailoa’s 2021 outlook, “processing slightly quicker and showcasing the deft pocket-moving skills he put on display at Alabama will be integral to Tagovailoa taking the next step as a passer in 2021.”