Until Tua Tagovailoa rips a deep pass to Tyreek Hill for a touchdown in a game, we’re going to continue hearing questions about his arm strength.
New Dolphins offensive coordinator Frank Smith might already be adjusted to fielding them. Smith was asked Wednesday about Tagovailoa’s arm and whether it might limit Smith’s ability to dial up deep shots to stretch the field and maximize the offense’s potential.
“I wouldn’t say that we’re limiting ourselves in anything,” Smith said, via Sports Illustrated’s Dolphins site. “He’s actually been doing a great job of … every day presents different routes, different things we’re trying to accomplish with receivers. So I would say that everything we’ve done so far has been extremely optimistic because there’s certain things in our progressions and reads and his ability to move from throughout his progressions. He’s been awesome for a guy just really being in the system for a month.”
The system is new and so are some of Tagovailoa’s key running mates, including Hill and fellow offseason addition Cedrick Wilson. Left tackle Terron Armstead, guard Connor Williams and running backs Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert and Sony Michel are also new to the Dolphins, leaving plenty of acclimating left to be done.
Ultimately, though, the fate of the Dolphins’ revamped offense comes down to the performance of Tagovailoa, which still depends on what he can do with his arm. The video- yes, that video — posted by the team showing Tagovailoa throw a pass to Hill during spring workouts didn’t exactly help quiet the narrative surrounding Tagovailoa’s arm, but as Smith said Wednesday, Miami’s offense will be about much more than throwing deep balls to Hill.
“Oh, physically he’s been fine,” Smith said of Tagovailoa. “I mean, one unique thing with him is his ability to play with fundamentals and accuracy with the ball. This time of year we’re working the whole route tree, all different concepts and all the things necessary for the wide receivers and for him and the running backs. So the one thing is his ability to on-the-field process and deliver the football where we need it to go.”
Accuracy will end up being more important than arm strength for Tagovailoa and the Dolphins, as will be avoiding turnovers. If the Dolphins can move the ball efficiently and establish a running game that is more effective than it was in 2021, folks will eventually stop asking about Tagovailoa’s arm strength. A one-play, 75-yard touchdown drive still counts the same as an 11-play march.
Until then, though, don’t expect these questions to go away. There’s plenty of time left for hand-wringing and prognostication, but the Dolphins have certainly positioned themselves for better production in 2022 than they experienced in 2021.