MIAMI GARDENS – Twice in the Miami Dolphins’ win over the Washington Commanders last Sunday, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa connected deep with star receiver Tyreek Hill while beating a cornerback’s single coverage with a single high safety out of position to defend the pass.
One was for a 78-yard touchdown on the Dolphins’ first possession in a 45-15 win over the Commanders, and the other was a 60-yarder later in the first half when 157 of Tagovailoa’s 280 yards through the air in the FedEx Field went to Hill.
“I hope I don’t miss the layup, I really do,” Tagovailoa said Thursday, as his Dolphins prepare to face the Tennessee Titans on Monday night, about what he’s thinking the moment he gets that look and Hill zooms by to the corner. in human coverage.
“I always think Tyreek is going to win his 1-on-1 matchup. I’m always thinking Jaylen (Waddle) is going to win his 1-on-1 matchup. It’s really based on, if it’s a single-high look and they’re playing man, that’s where it’s really safety goes. If it is not a confrontation agreement, we will simply read it throughout the progression of the play. But, apart from that, the important thing is not to miss the layup.”
The ideal for defenses is that they never want to leave any defender in single coverage with Hill, but there is a dilemma that the Dolphins create, with Waddle as a threat in front of him, among others. In the case of the first touchdown in Washington, speedy running back De’Von Achane was also passing to a linebacker on the other side of the field, and could have had a touchdown if Tagovailoa had gone to him.
“It never surprises me,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said Thursday of receiving that look. “We see men in every game, but it surprises me more when sometimes they don’t cover their bet to protect themselves. But that’s just football. There are 11 people in the field. Human coverage gives you a lot of versatility as a defense. The guys will try to play the best they can.”
While Tagovailoa was happy to throw two long touchdowns to Hill, he was especially glad not to fumble after a recent streak of them, both interceptions and fumbles. Sunday marked the first game in which Tagovailoa did not throw an interception or fumble since the Sept. 24 win over the Denver Broncos.
He is determined to keep it that way.
“Anyone can do it once,” Tagovailoa said. “I have to continue with that during this last part of the year. “Zero turnovers, that’s good once, but anyone can do it once.”
Tagovailoa, healthy through the first 12 games of the 2023 season after constant injury problems in his first three NFL seasons, has put together his longest streak of professional games played. He dove into his routine at Thursday’s media session.
He takes a dip in the cold tub every day to recover his muscles. He has a regimen with Dolphins head of strength and conditioning Dave Puloka that differs after games and during the week. Tagovailoa lifts weights twice a week outside of recovery day, and also does conditioning and sprinting to make sure the instances in games aren’t the first time he’s run.
He has avoided the offseason jiu-jitsu lessons that have prepared him to better prepare for impact when he is taken down.
“From what I have learned, I have been practicing what I have been given throughout the process of learning to fall,” he said, indicating that he learned what he needed from the lessons.
Will you return to jiu-jitsu next offseason?
“If I want to become dangerous, then sure,” he joked. “But no, just learn to fall, brother.”
But Tagovailoa has also stayed clean due to his quick release and the play of the offensive line in front of him, amid eight different starting combinations this season. A big part of that is the work right tackle Austin Jackson has done on the lefty’s blind side, for which Jackson was rewarded Thursday with a three-year, $36 million contract extension through 2026.
Tagovailoa asked for applause from the room when Jackson’s trip was mentioned to him.
“Everyone wants to say what they want to say about Austin Jackson,” Tagovailoa said. “But it’s almost like a heroic story or something about how his career changed from last year to this year, and all the things that have been said about him. “I am very proud of him.”
Before Tagovailoa appears on the field for “Monday Night Football” against the Titans, he appeared on television in the final Monday night game, with the Manning brothers, Peyton and Eli. Highlight: his guitar skills, performing Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven.”
“That was an audio recording,” Tagovailoa joked Thursday. “I don’t know how to play the guitar, so don’t ask me how to play the guitar.”