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The health of Tua Tagovailoa key in the aspirations of Miami Dolphins

by Cesar Fuentes @_cesar_fuentes

In 2022, in Mike McDaniel's first season as Head Coach, the Miami Dolphins made the playoffs but there was still some disappointment that Tua Tagovailoa's breakout year should have led to more for this team.

But injuries ended Tagovailoa's season prematurely, and the Dolphins lost in Buffalo in the wild-card round with a third-string rookie quarterback starting. Now the team is confident that its quarterback will be injury-free in 2023 to aspire to fight for the division.

Tua Tagovailoa's standout saw him lead the NFL with a 105.5 passer rating and yet, there's no question about Tagovailoa's ability to thrive in Mike McDaniel's offensive scheme: his 8.9 yards per attempt and TD rate of 6.3 percent also ranked first at their position, having ranked 29th in average target depth (7.0) the previous year.

It's impossible to talk about the Dolphins' season, or upcoming ones, without worrying about Tagovailoa's progress. Tagovailoa had just finished a true third season, and on his 25th birthday, he considered retirement, but his offseason prioritized training to avoid future head injuries. While Tua's history reportedly doesn't make him more prone to another concussion, it could make the Dolphins more cautious.

Vic Fangio has done a phenomenal job over a long tenure in the NFL directing defensive plays for four teams, but Fangio doesn't guarantee a top 10 defense by himself, of course, because players and talent are still more important than anything else. But the Dolphins should absolutely improve on this side of the ball now with a better defensive coach running the show.

Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb will be looking to dominate the trenches, but if there is an injury to just one, that could sink the entire unit and weaken the team. Miami traded for star cornerback Jalen Ramsey to improve the perimeter, however he suffered a torn meniscus in training camp and his surgery has him arguing with doctors online about how quickly he can recover and return to the field.

Miami is in a really tough AFC East division. You have Josh Allen with the Bills and Aaron Rodgers in New York with the Jets. Never discount Bill Belichick. Mac Jones now has Bill O'Brien as the offensive play caller in New England. So expectations are high, but it's going to be tough.

If the Dolphins stay healthy, they're going to be explosive on offense and very good on defense with Fangio. This is definitely a playoff team. I don't know how far they will go, but it will be a successful season if they find a way to make the playoffs and maybe win a game.

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