Tua Tagovailoa ignoring critics of arm strength, ends Dolphins practice with 'money' deep-ball to Tyreek Hill

Questions of Tua Tagovailoa's quarterbacking skills have dominated the conversation in Miami after the team underwent an offensive overhaul this offseason.

More specifically, it's been the topic of Tagovailoa's arm strength that has fueled doubters. New Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel showed he's well aware of those questions once asked about how confident he was in the QB's arm following Thursday's practice.

"So you're saying there was a good deep-ball today?" McDaniel facetiously asked a reporter. "Were you pretty confident that it would be completed? There was a couple."

Befittingly enough, one of those deep completions ended Dolphins practice with Tagovailoa connecting with Tyreek Hill, the highlight acquisition for Miami this offseason. Though it may just be a small example of Tagovailoa's progress on the deep ball, it gave the 24-year-old QB a chance to address the criticism on a high note.

"For me, it's just zone that out," Tagovailoa said. "I mean we come out to practice, everyone else, Twitter warriors, keyboard warriors, whatever you want to call them, they're not out here practicing with us working hard. So, I don't know if you guys recorded that last one to Tyreek -- I don't know about you but that looked like money."

McDaniel, who is an overlooked figure within the Dolphins' offensive upgrades, proceeded to dive into what he thought of the deep ball from a coach and player's perspective.

"Here's the thing about quarterback that I always think is funny; you can only design plays that the quarterback has time to throw, and generally, within the time of the play from a historical perspective, you can't get a receiver down the field past, I don't know 55, 60 yards in what we call one-hitch timing," McDaniel explained. "So, you have to have a prerequisite arm strength to be able to throw it 60 (yards), in my opinion, and then if you're not gonna be able to anticipate and you have to see something happen before you do it, you probably need to throw 70. Because you have to wait to see it and then a receiver gets down further. Hopefully you have the protection. The way we've always operated since 2005 when I got in the league, is if a quarterback can see the defense and is accurate, then you just see if he can throw it 60 yards.

"I think he might've had a 55-yarder today, but that's why you hear no cause for concern at all from the players because they know that, too. He's plenty fast and the great thing is he sees the field. He's not throwing the ball 85 yards, but I don't see the practical application of an 85-yard thrower unless you have the best offensive line in the history of football. And the defensive is poor to add on rushers when you're max protected."

Tagovailoa enters a crucial third season, one which portends to be a key evaluation for his long-term future with the Dolphins. What hasn't helped Tagovailoa is that McDaniel's system is the third one he's had to digest since entering the league as a former No. 5 overall pick. So far, McDaniel is happy with Tagovailoa's progress and provided insightful details on his growth once seeing him face adversity for the first time.

"I'm really excited about the reps that Tua is getting in this offense," said McDaniel, a 39-year-old offensive specialist entering his first year as a head coach. "I'm excited about where he's at. I talked to him and I talked to the team today specifically about just waiting for those moments where you have a slight obstacle, and Tua's very very critical on his ball placement and he's a very accurate quarterback as a result. Yesterday, he had some throws that he demands better of himself, but like I told everybody else, today was the first day I got to really evaluate Tua because that is professional quarterback in the National Football League -- you're going to have things that you don't execute to perfection, you're going to have people talking about how you're not performing and guess what? No one cares.

"It's about leading, and he had a ton of energy. I was very very happy with his effort today because it was one of the million reps you need at that position to handle the scrutiny, the pressure, all that stuff. I think his teammates have really noticed a difference in him, he's opening up, he's kind of coming into his own in that regard, and he's been unbelievably coachable. He's let his guard down and we've ben able to keep his confidence high, which it should be right now, for sure, while correcting him and getting his game better, which is the ultimate goal for everyone."

In 21 starts, Tagovailoa has shown tremendous accuracy on short-passing situations, but he has few examples of success throwing it deep. His 10.1 yards per completion ranked 30th in the NFL following a season where he set career-highs in completions (263) and passing yards (2,653). With a 16-10 touchdown to interception ratio, Tagovailoa finished Year 2 with a respectable 90.1 passer rating, but where he can improve was clear.

With the Dolphins adding deep-threat receivers like Hill and Ced Wilson to a WR corps with Jaylen Waddle and pass-catching tight end Mike Gesicki, Tagovailoa is being provided with the tools for an explosive offense. McDaniel and Tagovailoa are putting in the work to ensure they exploit the potential.

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