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Tua Tagovailoa Wins Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year Award

The much deserved award for Tagovailoa was voted on by players, coaches, and executives around the NFL.

Buffalo Bills v Miami Dolphins Photo by Perry Knotts/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins’ season may not have ended how the players, coaches, or fans would have hoped, but don’t let that overshadow what Tua Tagovailoa accomplished this past season. Most Dolphins fans remember the scary moments following Tagovailoa’s concussion against the Cincinnati Bengals during week 4 of the 2022 season. While he returned from that head injury and strung together impressive performances, his season was later cut short after suffering another concussion (potentially his third of the season) against the Green Bay Packers.

While it later came out that Tagovailoa contemplated retirement at the end that season, these issues also put more noise around the idea the Tagovailoa just could not stay healthy for an entire NFL season. In his three NFL seasons, he hadn’t played more than 13 games. This is following an injury riddled college career that was cut short by a devastating hip injury.

Going into last offseason, the focus shifted to keeping Tagovailoa on the field for an entire 17 game schedule. The first step to accomplishing this goal came down to Tagovailoa working with his trainer Nick Hicks to gain muscle mass (for which he caught flack). The next step was his well publicized entry into the world of jiu jitsu with an emphasis on training how to fall properly (to avoid injury-especially to his head/neck). The third step came from Mike McDaniel engineering the offense to get the ball out quickly. It helped to utilize Tua’s uncanny ability to anticipate defender movement and kept him from taking very many hits.

The rest, as they say, is history. Tagovailoa went on to start and play every game of the season for the first time in his NFL career. He led the NFL in passing yards and finished in the top-5 in passing touchdowns, completion percentage, and passer rating. He also finished with PFF’s highest regular season passing grade (90.2), and had the third most “big time throws” of any quarterback in the NFL. He may not have taken them to a Super Bowl, but this season was a huge step forward for Tagovailoa.

His ability to set his mind on a goal during the offseason and accomplish that goal is no small feat. Now that he’s proven he can stay healthy for an entire season, Dolphins fans should be excited to see what his goals for the 2024 season will be.