On Monday, I joined The Bobby Curran Show on ESPN Honolulu to talk about quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Mike McDaniel’s new-look offense, Miami’s small —yet critical— 2022 NFL Draft class, the underthrown heard around the world, Miami’s current depth chart, and so much more!
Here’s a link to the FULL interview—which I will transcribe below.
(P.S. I transcribed this at 3 AM. It’s probably best you just click the link and listen. :) )
Bobby Curran: “I’ve said this before, and I don’t think this is just a crazy homer or Hawaii thing. I think Tua Tagovailoa gets a disproportionate amount of criticism relative to his performance. That’s my take. Joining us now from Miami, Josh Houtz. The Phinsider is with us. Josh, how are you doing?!”
Houtz: “I’m doing great, Bobby. I got the little one sleeping in the swing, and my kids are playing with play dough. SO, I’m ready to talk Dolphins football with you. How have you been?”
Bobby Curran: “Really well, all cool. I’m a little mystified at something. If these reports are right, that it was Miami’s marketing department that released this video of Tua underthrowing Tyreek hill that was a cause for celebration among the haters and the trolls, is that accurate?”
Houtz: “Yeah, that’s accurate. They actually posted it. I guess I missed it by about an hour. I signed on and it said Tua to Tyreek with the rocket ship emoji. Everyone was excited, but yeah, the Dolphins’ social media team were the ones that posted that underthrow, and as you said, I think 6.6 M people viewed that video, and you saw the fallout from that. It’s crazy. I don’t know why they posted it.”
Bobby Curran: “I think the person responsible for that needs at the very least to be re-trained. They need to understand what the purpose of marketing is. It’s not to bring down boatloads of criticism on your quarterback. That is jus... Tyreek Hill actually went so far as to post his own video with a number of pass plays, with Tua hitting him in stride with balls that don’t look like wounded ducks and all that thing. And I just thought, wow, It’s bad enough if some fan manages to catch a throw like that and then goes viral with it, but having your own marketing department do it seems a bit much.
Houtz: “Yeah, it makes no sense, and thankfully Tyreek Hill posted that video a few days later, kinda telling everyone to chill out. But yeah, I don’t understand it. But the national media ate it up, and it’s just that time of the year. Everyone puts too much stock into these throws in camp. I guess it’s just social media, I guess.”
Bobby Curran: “I think what’s fortunate is Tua’s personality seems very able to deflect this stuff to basically ignore it. I don’t think he gets super...there have been Quarterbacks that have been a bit touchy. I don’t think he’s one of them. If he were, that would’ve already reared its head because he’s come in for a number of criticisms he hasn’t really fought back. He’s just, “well, my job’s to play, and that’s what I’m going to do. I just think his equanimity, I suppose, would be a good word for it will serve him well this season because you know that the first time he has a marginal game, they’ll come out of the woodwork.”
Houtz: Oh, for sure. But you’re absolutely right, just how Tua can handle this adversity. I mean, he had a head coach who by all accounts didn’t really want him, and he went out there and played exceptionally well, I thought. At least, you know, better than most expectations, so I am excited to see what happens this year with the coaching staff in place. But I think for as long as he’s going to be a quarterback in the NFL, he’s going to be one of the more polarizing players, and I guess that’s just something we have to deal with.”
Bobby Curran: “Mike McDaniel seems to me to be a really good mentor for Tua. The things that Tua does well, Mike McDaniel seems to be able to coach up; what’s your thought?”
Houtz: “Yeah, I completely agree, and I think a lot of the coaching staff he put in place is a testament to that. Frank Smith coming over from the Chargers. Having familiarity with the run game, we know how extremely run-oriented this offense will be. And then you have Darrell Bevell. We know the number of Q.B.s he’s coached throughout his career. They’re sitting here and have nothing but great things to say about what they’ve seen out of Tua Tagovailoa. Yes, it’s early in camp. But I think the sky is the limit, and I think his skill-set fits this system, and I think you’re really going to see that on the field this season.”
Bobby Curran: “Who do you anticipate would be their rotation. I’m assuming at some point they’ll narrow the running back situation to two guys. Who do you think it will be?”
Houtz: “I think that’s a great question. I think right now, Chase Edmonds is probably the running back #1. I think when you look at his contract, his skill-set, what he can do, I think right now that’s him. And I think if Raheem Mostert can come back from injury. You know, the familiarity he has with Mike McDaniel, there’s something there. But I like the Sony Michel signing, so I guess I’d say Chase Edmonds and Sony Michel as of right now. Those will probably be the two guys getting the most touches, IMO. But any of those guys could take on this lead back role in a new offense.”
Bobby Curran: “Let me talk about the offensive line because they upgraded it fairly significantly; what are your thoughts on how much of a difference that will make on Tua being more comfortable in the pocket.”
Houtz: “Yeah, it’s going to make a world of difference. I guess the biggest concern among Dolphins fans is Terron Armstead’s health. I don’t know that he’s really been out there yet. That’s nothing to worry about now, but you paid him all that money—I think he’s the top-paid left tackle—you hope he can go out there and play well. But I still look at the center position and the right tackle position; I think those are two positions the Dolphins really need to see who wins in camp. But on paper and on the field, this is going to be a much better unit. And then you couple in the system they’re going to be in. I love it, and I think Tua is really going to take the next step forward. And a lot of that falls on the offensive line.”
Bobby Curran: “Obviously, the Buffalo Bills are going to be a big favorite, I don’t see any reason not to put the Dolphins at this point at #2 in the East, your thoughts?”
Houtz: “Yeah, I think I may have said that last year too. But that could be part of the Dolphin fan in me or how I think this team is built now. The defense is kind of ready-made; you just have to hope Josh Boyer can do the same thing Brian Flores did last year. But all the pieces they brought in on offense, I definitely think they’re the number 2 team in the AFC East. But you just hope this is the year they can finally beat the Buffalo Bills. Because since Josh Allen has arrived, they have just been a thorn in the Dolphins’ side. I agree with you. I think they are that number two spot, but again this is football. Anything can happen. But I feel really confident in what the Dolphins are going to do this season.”
Bobby Curran: “Most everybody in the NFL believes the Jets will be better. I think the question is with the Jets, they were so far behind, you would say “okay, better, but how much better”?
Houtz: “Yeah. Exactly, and I think the verdict is still out on Zach Wilson. You see all the criticism Tua gets, and I don’t think you see nearly that with Wilson and the type of player he is. And I think maybe they should be pointing some of that disdain towards Zach Wilson a little more. I think the Dolphins will definitely be the #2 team because, again, what they did, whether free agency or the draft...They only had four picks, but they still made those picks count. Getting that linebacker, as we talked about before in Channing Tindall. Eric Ezukanma, I mean, they got some playmakers. The sky is the limit, but I think I say that every year as a Dolphins fan.”
Bobby Curran: “Let me get to another thing. There’s going to be a meeting of the minds between some of these offensive players, particularly Tyreek Hill. I don’t think he’ll be a problem. He hasn’t been a problem in other places, but they have to find a way to make Jaylen Waddle... Both of those guys can take the top off the defense. But on any one play, usually only one guy deep. Do you think there will be any issues there?
Houtz: “I hope not. I mean that’s definitely a question that could arise. But, again, when you look at Mike McDaniel’s offense, similar to Kyle Shanahan’s offense, they’re really run heavy. So to think, Jaylen Waddle isn’t going to have as many receptions as he did last year when he broke the rookie record. And again, you don’t think Tyreek Hill will get the same amount of targets. So there’s definitely some concern there, but as you mentioned, Tyreek Hill has never been a problem anywhere else. I’m just excited to see how Mike McDaniel, I mean, everyone calls him an offensive genius; what can he do with this offense. You have Tyreek Hill. You have Jaylen Waddle, I keep saying it, but the sky is the limit. This offense could be as explosive as anything we’ve seen in years.”
Bobby Curran: “I just think the expectation level with Miami’s fanbase, it has to be the highest it’s been in... I don’t know how long, do you agree with that? In terms of what they’re hoping for?”
Houtz: “Yeah, absolutely, I was scrolling through Twitter this morning, and people were debating. Is anything short of the playoffs a failure here? And you think, they went back to back with Brian Flores. But, again, the defense is pretty much in place. You bring in an offensive guy like Mike McDaniel. You would hope that elevates the team. But again, it’s the NFL. There are so many games that could go either way. But the homer in me definitely thinks you can win 10 or 11 games, and then you hope that can get you in the playoffs.”
Bobby Curran: “I think in the AFC, that would be more of a question of ten wins. But I think 10 or 11 wins probably does get the Dolphins in, and I think they’re a playoff team. I’m going to be surprised if they’re not.”
Houtz: “Same here. Expectations could not be higher. That’s pretty much from every Dolphins fan. This is probably the most excited they’ve been since #13 was at quarterback.”
Bobby Curran: “In your view of this, who is the guy that you would say is the heart and soul of Miami’s defense?”
Houtz: “I guess I’d probably say, Christian Wilkins. He’s a defensive tackle that can play on the outside and inside. But his personality, the way it seems like that defense plays when he’s in the lineup. So I’d say Christian Wilkins, but when you look at that defense. I mean, Xavien Howard is one of the best corners in football. Jevon Holland as a rookie last year, was sensational. There are definitely some playmakers on that side of the ball. But I’d probably say, Christian Wilkins. He seems to be the heart of that defense.”
Bobby Curran: “I think it’s going to be so much fun, and I always enjoy talking with you, Josh. This was smooth sailing. You did a good job with the girls this morning.”
Houtz: “Yeah, I did. I was a little worried. I didn’t want to be that guy whose last memory was the girls screaming and fighting in the background. But I’m glad you talked me into it. I’m glad we were able to talk. And again, the sky is the limit for the Dolphins this season.”
Bobby Curran: “Good stuff, Josh. Thanks much!”
Houtz: “Yep, enjoy the rest of your day!”
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