The Blitz: Tua Tagovailoa Talks First Start, Lessons Learned

November 5, 2020

The midway point of the season is approaching as the Dolphins have a chance to finish the first half of the season over .500 at 5-3. A win Sunday in Arizona would make it four straight for Miami, but that task is no small feat. The Cardinals enter the game at 5-2 with plenty of weapons to attack Miami's top-ranked scoring defense.

Here's what's happening today in Davie.

Wednesday Injury Report

Dolphins: Running backs Myles Gaskin (knee) and Matt Breida (shoulder) did not practice on Wednesday.

Running back Patrick Laird (ankle) and cornerback Jamal Perry (foot) were limited on Wednesday.

Cardinals: Running back Kenyan Drake (ankle), cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (thigh), defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (hamstring) and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (not injury related) did not practice Wednesday.

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (not injury related) and linebackers Jordan Hicks (ankle/wrist) and Zeke Turner (toe) were limited on Wednesday.

For the rest of the Dolphins-Cardinals Wednesday report, click here.

They Said It

The Dolphins were winners in Tua Tagovailoa's first career NFL start. Even in the victory, the rookie quarterback is using the experience to accelerate his learning curve. He talked on Wednesday about the value of seeing live game reps, aside from the five snaps against the Jets in Week 6, for the first time since he was at Alabama.

"That's pretty much the best way I think for anyone in the NFL to learn," Tagovailoa said. "You can sit down and anyone can watch film really, but being able to go in and get some actual game reps, seeing actual rotations of the defenses, I think those things go a long way in sticking in your head."

Tagovailoa addressed one area of his game that he is particularly focusing on this week in practice.

"I think the biggest thing for me is pocket presence," Tagovailoa said. "Being able to just step up into what feels like pressure and then also just making the throws that I need to give the receivers good run after catch."

Around the Beat

Sunday, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Kyler Murray will meet for the first time since the 2019 Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium. The two became close throughout the Heisman Trophy race that year.

Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post has more.

Tagovailoa has met not only Murray, but his family, having encountered them at the 2018 Heisman ceremony in which Murray took home the trophy and Tagovailoa finished runner-up.

Now, Tagovailoa is looking forward to a reunion on the NFL level.

"I'm very excited to go up against him," Tagovailoa said Wednesday. " … Going against guys like that who are very competitive — and you know you're going to get their best — I think that's going to be a fun one."

Dolphins On Social

On this Day in Dolphins History

November 5, 2006 – The 1-6 Dolphins traveled to Chicago to take on the unbeaten Bears.  National pundits and writers alike had expectations for a lopsided victory for the home team. The Bears started the scoring with a Robbie Gould field goal, but Miami rattled off 31 of the next 41 points in the game for a stunning 31-13 victory. Jason Taylor scored on a 20-yard interception return in the second quarter, one of six takeaways on the day for the Dolphins defense.

Stat of the Day

NFL Next Gen Stats uses chips in player's equipment to track field location, speed and much more. Sunday, Tagovailoa's touchdown pass to wide receiver DeVante Parker came with only 0.28 yards of separation, the tightest-window touchdown throw in the NFL this season.

Know the Cardinals

Vance Joseph and the Cardinals defense loves to blitz (36.8 percent blitz rate, fourth-highest in the NFL per Pro Football Reference). The Rams only blitzed Tagovailoa five times (Pro Football Focus) Sunday, including the lone touchdown pass of the afternoon.

Content On Tap

The Dolphins-Cardinals game preview will publish at 10 a.m. We'll go inside the key matchups, the Cardinals schemes and personnel and much more. Plus, we'll cover the game on the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield in addition to media availability of Brian Flores and some Dolphins players.

This week's feature takes an in-depth look at the Dolphins special teams unit, which ranks second in Football Outsider's DVOA metric (Defensive-Adjusted Value Over Average). You can find that story here.

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