Salty Tua has yielded to Skinny Tua, and the transformation of the Dolphins quarterback has been a major talking point at the team’s ongoing mandatory minicamp.
Earlier this week, Tua Tagovailoa didn’t share any specifics about how much weight he has lost, or whether he’s trying to lose more.
“I don’t know,” he said when asked what he now weighs. “It’s whatever I’m down to right now.”
Why did he do it?
“I felt like I’d be better,” Tua said. “I feel better, quicker on my feet, more nimble, all of that.”
He hopes to use that mobility to better extend plays. As to whether he’s planning to lose even more weight, Tua said, “You’ll see during training camp, we’ll see.”
On Wednesday, coach Mike McDaniel addressed Tua’s significant body shrinkage.
Honestly, it’s just Tua trying to find another level of his game and another level of being a professional,” McDaniel said. “It happens to a lot of players where all of a sudden you become pseudo-dieticians several years into your career but definitely not at the start. Seeing ways that he could maintain the strength but create some more flexibility and power, or however you want to look at it. . . . It wasn’t to correct something that needed fixed. It was an opportunity to get better, in his mind I think. And ultimately, we’ll see how he does at read option and if he’s trying to be an option quarterback, how svelte is svelte? But anything that helps you attack your job and solve problems — problems that he’s more aware of now than he was last year or the year before, just in terms of being a problem-solver at your position — you learn different things and you find value in different things. I think he’s maturing as a professional and really going after the annual offseason of, ‘How do we get better?’”
But how do you stay big enough to remain healthy? That was the goal in 2023 — to come up with ways to let him avoid concussions.
“It was a very concrete thing that we were trying to solve last year with regard to physical preparation,” McDaniel said. “That was his ability to be available as much as he can. But more importantly, for him to have the life that he wants and to play the quarterback position, and how to keep himself healthy, we identified the ground as the big opponent that we had to defeat.
“So strength training those particular things while also drilling stuff for the first time, we saw unbelievable results in terms of every situation that he was presented with. He was able to provide the technique and he had the strength to do it. So you don’t know what that is. It was uncharted territory to kind of like work on training stunt doubles or something how to fall. That was uncharted territory, but you establish the strength and how to protect yourself so now you can go back to what are the things that help me do my job to maximum ability, not shortchanging any sort of strength.”
This year, his priority is different, even if the goal is the same.
“He is really taking his diet serious,” McDaniel said. “And he hasn’t done things to lose weight, he’s done things to be in shape. I would be pumped about where he’s at now, maybe predisposed to a hair of body shaming from last year if you want to do that retroactively. But to be fair, not many people were going about things that way to be as proactive with something of that nature with jiu-jitsu. He was training jiu-jitsu and calling it something else I think at one point — judo. But he really went after it and then you find out new things. Just like every year, we’re trying our best to do the best football plays. We learn more about football plays and defenses and stuff, and we do new plays the next year a little bit. That maturation I think is an example of how he is as a professional, and understanding what his job is to the team and to the franchise. He’s going after it and controlling all of the things that he can control.”
One thing he can’t control is how teammates react. Receiver Tyreek Hill was blunt when joking about the differences between 2023 Tua and 2024 Tua.
“I ain’t gonna lie, when I saw Tua at the Pro Bowl, I was kind of scared — dude was fat as fuck,” Hill told reporters. “He was fat, he was chubby. I was like, ‘Hold on, bro. Hold on, bro.’ Ryan Clark said you were kind of thick, he wasn’t lying. But seeing him now and where he’s come from and how skinny he has gotten — what’s that stuff everybody is taking? Ozempic? He had to be taking that, I don’t know.
What I’m seeing from him now is a lot of guys are getting together outside of here. Hanging out, running routes together, spending off-field time together, and Tua is going a great job of orchestrating that. That’s a beautiful thing, because our first few years, we would do it here and there. But this year, he’s really honing in on the guys, hanging out, building that camaraderie with each other, that’s a beautiful thing, man. For him to have such leadership within that and to be a family man, it’s a beautiful thing. He’s growing. He’s growing, and you can obviously see it whenever we step out on the field and we don’t have all of our pieces out there – with myself, with [Jaylen] Waddle in the mix, with Jonnu [Smith], all the guys, Raheem [Mostert], [De’Von] Achane, all of us clicking all at once. It’s going to be a beautiful thing man, I’m excited for this year.”
Waddle had some things to say, too.
“I told him — I missed chubby Tua, man,” Waddle joked with reporters. “I miss chubby Tua, man. I ain’t gonna lie, I didn’t like it when I saw him. I told him, I’m not fucking with it. I told him straight up, I’m not fucking with it. Eat some more or something, man.”
Waddle then said Tua is looking good. Last year, he was playing good. The goal is to keep him feeling good — good enough to keep playing good.
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