Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is set to begin his third season in the NFL, but his leadership qualities appear to still be a work in progress.
Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel pointed to a moment from last season which seemed to show reluctance from Tagovailoa in promoting his candidacy to become a team captain.
“Each candidate was asked to give a speech about their desire, and willingness to serve as team captains,” Kelly wrote. “According to multiple sources, when it was Tagovailoa’s turn to stand in front his teammates to make his pitch he basically encouraged them to vote for someone else, supposedly telling the room no matter what he’d remain a leader, then abruptly sitting down.
“It wasn’t exactly the inspiring speech his teammates needed, or wanted. Many players concluded that Tagovailoa didn’t want the job, the responsibility, possibly because it meant having more interaction with [Brian] Flores, whom he was developing a frosty relationship with, which would contribute to Flores’ dismissal.”
Tagovailoa spent his rookie season splitting time with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. At some points during the season, Flores replaced Tagovailoa with Fitzpatrick during key moments.
That approach surely did nothing to bolster Tagovailoa’s confidence. The fact that the youngster’s personality is more cautious in nature has also possibly made it difficult for him to bond with his teammates during his NFL career.
In addition to those components, Tagovailoa becoming a captain would have required more interaction with Flores, as Kelly noted. The relationship between the player and former Dolphins coach had some moments of friction, which might explain why Tagovailoa perhaps wanted to avoid spending additional time with Flores.
Yet, as the 2022 season approaches, it seems like Tagovailoa’s teammates want him to take charge and lead them over the hump after two consecutive postseason near-misses.
Tagovailoa appears to have made an early connection with new head coach Mike McDaniel. Things can change over the course of a season, but if Tagovailoa is able to find his voice, the Dolphins will be the beneficiaries.