All offseason, when the local, and national talking heads in the media made predictions on how the Miami Dolphins season will go, the caveat was always quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s health. You know, the “If Tua can stay healthy, the Dolphins will be this good” take. Now we won’t argue with that because last year the concussion track record was bad. Tua’s health was in doubt, and he even contemplated retirement.
This offseason, Tua went to work. He went out and put on some weight, mostly muscle. That was huge, but more importantly, in my opinion, he addressed the “learning how to fall” issue. The way Tua would fall was unnatural in a way where he wouldn’t do anything to protect himself from ground impact especially impacts to the back of his head. I made the joke that he would fall like a dog instead of a cat, but jokes aside, that needed to change, or we wouldn’t see him in a Dolphins’ uniform for much longer. Insert Jiu-Jitsu training...
This video, to some eyes, doesn’t mean anything other than a QB hit. It’s not. It’s all the offseason Jiu Jitsu training coming to fruition.
Officially Tua Tagovaioa suffered two concussions in 2022, but if we’re being real, it was three. The concussion he suffered against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday Night Football was unavoidable since he got rag-dolled by a monster defensive tackle, but the other two could have been avoided if Tua understood how to fall and brace himself. Guys like Bart Scott and Colin Cowherd may scoff at Jiu-Jitsu training but the proof is in the pudding.
The hit in yesterday’s game against the Houston Texans was everything we needed to see. He took the hit, turned his body, let the side of his body, and mostly his arm take the impact, and kept his neck stiff. His head barely moved when he hit the ground. He even turned his head to look at the ground, and when he hit the ground, he rolled his body to lessen the impact. Huge difference between that and these two hits he took last year resulting in concussions.
Tua Tagovailoa is headed to the locker room after this hit by Matt Milano— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) September 25, 2022
Prayers up pic.twitter.com/u3cSEQpeKq
This would seem to be the play on which Dolphins’ QB Tua Tagovailoa was injured, when his head bangs the ground. pic.twitter.com/zCQXadHm2r— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 26, 2022
The difference in the way he took those two falls and the way he took the fall in yesterday’s game is night and day. Tua spoke to the media post-game about the hit he took, and what he needs to do to keep himself healthy.
“You took your first quarterback hit from the defender, I know one of the things you focused in the off season was making sure your head doesn’t snap back and it seemed like you avoided that. After the fact, did that come to your mind? That the Jiu-Jitsu was really working there?”
“Yeah, I would say yeah. The thing with that, I mean, you just have to continue to rep it. We do some things at the facility that help keep up with that. But it’s football. There’s hits that you’re going to see that you know you can fall and then there’s others where you’re not going to be able to see, and it’s how you react to it. It’s a physical sport. It’s tough. But yeah, went out there and was expecting to get hit, was expecting to go to the ground, all of that.”
I was a supporter of Head Coach Mike McDaniel playing the starters in week two of the preseason despite the injuries to star cornerback Jalen Ramsey and star left tackle Terron Armstead. I felt that Tua needed to get the jitters out and take a hit or two in the preseason since he hasn’t seen any game action in eight months. Despite the horrible interception on the first play, we saw everything we needed to see prior to week 1, and Dolphins fans should be pumped for the season.
Let us know in the comments how much of a difference you see in Tua Tagovailoa’s preparation for taking hits and staying on the field.