The Miami Dolphins will face high expectations this fall after an attention-grabbing offseason that included the hiring of a new head coach, several free-agent additions and a blockbuster trade.
Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is certain to feel the brunt of those lofty assumptions as the former No. 3 overall pick enters a crucial third season with an upgraded roster surrounding him. Although he's expressed excitement for the upcoming season with his new offensive weapons, Tagovailoa is well aware of the one thing that will satisfy demands.
"I guess the only word that can describe that is exciting," Tagovailoa said Thursday on 'The Fish Tank' podcast, via the Miami Herald. "It's exciting times for all of us. Aside from guys we have acquired, it's going to take work from all of us ... We've got to do the most important thing as to why we're here, which is just win games."
Miami kicked off its offseason of change with the hiring of Mike McDaniel, a 38-year-old rookie head coach who quickly gained notoriety as the 49ers' offensive coordinator last season. McDaniel offered support to Tagovailoa upon his hiring, saying the 24-year-old has "untapped" potential.
Following McDaniels' arrival, Dolphins general manager Chris Grier then acquired star wide receiver Tyreek Hill, signed top free-agent left tackle Terron Armstead to a big contract and added a handful of notable pieces on offense, including running back Chase Edmonds, WR Cedrick Wilson, guard Connor Williams, RB Raheem Mostert and WR Trent Sherfield.
"Coach McDaniel has done a great job, not just with his staff but everyone," Tagovailoa said. "The new players, the guys we've kept. Everyone in this building is optimistic. Everyone has a high amount of character within the building. It says a lot about coach McDaniel, a lot about Chris Grier -- the communication between coach and Chris."
A pair of injuries limited Tagovailoa to 12 starts in 2021 but his play nevertheless noticeably improved when compared to his rookie season. Tagovailoa set multiple career-highs, completing 263 of 388 passes (67.8%) for 2,653 yards,16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while adding 128 yards and three scores on the ground.
Tagovailoa will enter 2022 with his sixth different offensive coordinator (Frank Smith) in as many seasons, dating back to his playing days at Alabama. New Dolphins QBs coach and passing game coordinator Darrell Bevell recently said the new offense will "tailor" itself to Tagovailoa's strengths. McDaniels' latest iteration of his offense will have ample opportunity to get creative with Hill, second-year WR sensation Jaylen Waddle, tight end Mike Gesicki and Wilson at their disposal.
Grasping the new offense and ensuring its smooth procedure is work yet to be had in April, but Tagovailoa isn't shying away from the opportunity nor the expectations that come along with a high-powered offense.
"I think pressure is everywhere, especially in any professional industry," Tagovailoa said. "You're either going to make use of this opportunity with the guys we have or you're not. That's what it is. I'm looking forward to making use of this opportunity."