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Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel shuts down suggestion Tua Tagovailoa is a system quarterback

In the NFL, the quarterback usually gets the majority of the credit when their team wins and the lion’s share of the blame when a team loses. But in the case of Pro Bowl quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, things are more nuanced.

Tagovailoa is in the midst of an impressive season. Entering Week 7, the Miami Dolphins quarterback is leading the league in passing yards and is tied for first place in touchdowns. Tagovailoa started showing significant signs of improvement last season under head coach Mike McDaniel.

McDaniel spent several years coaching under San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. McDaniel has seamlessly implemented his offensive system in Miami, which has resulted in the best offense in the NFL. 


Mike McDaniel looks on the field

Mike McDaniel of the Miami Dolphins looks on during the third quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 17, 2023, in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

McDaniel’s innovative system has prompted questions about whether Tagovailoa’s success this season is largely due the coach’s play calling and offensive scheme.

During Wednesday’s press conference, McDaniel was asked if other quarterbacks across the league could benefit from the Dolphins’ system, and the second-year head coach gave a fiery response.


“I’m about to push this podium over,” McDaniel said when a reporter suggested that many other quarterbacks could thrive in his system. “My answer to that would be, who the F cares? Because it is a team, we’re working together, and I know one thing: I’ve coached a long time, I haven’t seen people do what our guys do – to their credit, to their ability and their commitment to their craft.”

McDaniel added that the team is focused on working together.

“As a teammate, we’re all dependent on each other. I’m not in any hurry to prove myself without those guys because those are part of who we are. To say it’s this person or that person is kind of missing the point. It is a team working together, people working together. Myself, Tyreek Hill, Tua, cool, but what if no one’s blocking anyone? You know what I mean? We’re all connected in that way. That’s why, I think, a lot of the guys … Tua’s success in their success, Tyreek’s success, Waddle’s, Raheem’s, etc.”

The Dolphins are leading the league in many of the offensive categories. McDaniel said the team’s success so far this season is a result of hard work and “unbelievable abilities.”

Tua Tagovailoa throws a pass

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa looks to pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Florida. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

“It’s a journey that we’re experiencing together. Somebody will get the statistics from it, but none of those statistics are worth anything if you don’t have a full support from your players across the board, all 11, and then it goes down to the organization and all those things combined. But I know this: Our players run a lot of plays that I have a lot of history with, and it looks different, and that’s because of hard work and unbelievable abilities.”

“Don’t try me on other players. I’m not trying to prove that.”

Tagovailoa will certainly need to continue to play at a high level if the Dolphins want to keep having success. Meanwhile, McDaniel appears to want to make sure that every player on the team can be the best version of themselves.

Tua Tagovaloa passes against the Steelers

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa fires a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, in Miami Gardens, Florida. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Football has often been referred to as the ultimate team sport, and McDaniel seems to want the focus to remain on the team and not individuals.

Tagovailoa faced criticism earlier this season. He threw for 466 yards and three touchdowns in a Week 1 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. But despite his solid day throwing the football, Tagovailoa still had some doubts about his ability to throw the ball down the field.


But Tagovailoa quickly shrugged off the concerns.

“I don’t care,” Tagovailoa said when asked about those who question whether he can throw the deep ball. “I mean, I don’t care – 466. That’s what 466 is if I can’t throw deep. Thanks.”

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