Tua Tagovailoa Primed for Breakout Year 4 Campaign
Entering his fourth season in the National Football League, Tua Tagovailoa's professional career has been riddled with injuries and disrespect, despite flashes of excellence throughout his 36 appearances.
With a perfect storm brewing in South Beach, Tagovailoa is set to silence all the doubters and solidify himself as an elite NFL quarterback.
Tagovailoa is coming off his best season yet in '22, throwing for 3,548 yards and 25 touchdowns over 13 games. A significant part of Tagovailoa taking a leap forward in his third NFL season was due to newly-hired head coach Mike McDaniels and the acquisition of superstar wide receiver Tyreek Hill.
However, Tagovailoa was placed in the league's concussion protocol twice during the season; one occasion came after Tagovailoa suffered a chilling injury on Thursday Night Football against the Bengals.
These injuries brought Tua to the brink of retirement.
In an April press conference, the Hawaii native stated, "I considered it for a time. Having sat down with my family, having sat down with my wife, and having those kinds of conversations, but, really, it would be hard for me to walk away from this game with how old I am with my son, I always dreamed of playing as long as I could to where my son knew exactly what he was watching his dad do. It's my health and body, and I feel like this is what's best for me and my family. You know, I love the game of football. If I didn't, I would've quit a long time ago."
To combat this, Tagovailoa took to learning Jiu-Jitsu during the off-season to learn how to "fall" to protect his body better when he takes hits.
"For guys at my position, we barely get hit throughout practices, throughout the offseason, even going into training camp; we don't even get touched until the season starts. So I mean, with jiu-jitsu, I've been thrown airborne, I've been put in many uncomfortable positions for me to learn how to fall and try to react throughout those positions that I'm getting thrown around in." Tagovailoa told ESPN reporter Marcel Louis-Jacques.
Per ESPN's article, the training has helped Tagovailoa strengthen his neck and core muscles, with one source stating, "[He is] the strongest he's ever been."
Staying healthy for Tagovailoa is make-or-break entering his fourth season as an NFL quarterback. If Tagovailoa cannot remain on the field for a full-17-game season, he may find his job in jeopardy, forcing head coach Mike McDaniels and GM Chris Grier to make a tough decision.
However, with reports of Tagovailoa being better than ever in training camp, he has generated some much-deserved MVP buzz.
With another year with star wideouts Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, and a supportive coaching staff, Tagovailoa - if able to stay healthy - has real potential to be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
For more NFL and Alabama Football content from Simon Besnoy, follow him on Twitter at @Simonbez1 and stay tuned to Tide1009.com for daily news.