Read the full transcript from Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's press conference on November 15, 2023.
(What's up with the hair?) – "Yeah, I got them done last week. It's been in for a week and a couple of days."
(Was it your call?) – "It was my call. My hair was outrageous so I thought if I didn't braid it or if it wasn't long enough, I would just cut it. So I just thought I'd get it braided."
(What was your teammates' reaction to the new look?) – "They love it. My teammates love it."
(What else did you do during the bye week?) – "Yeah, I got to work out and spend some time with my family. Spent some time with (my son) Ace. That's really all it was. We got to go to church, so that was really good."
(Becoming a father, has anything from that helped you become a better football player?) – "I think it has helped me in a lot of aspects of my life. It has helped me with how I see things, how I respond to things, how I've matured. Being a father, your outlook on life is totally different. You know you have more of a feel towards kids when they come up to you and they say 'Hey, Tua! Can I get a signature? Can I get this?' How I would have looked at it then is totally different than how I would have looked at that now because in this world, everything comes full circle. There's going to come a time where my son is going to grow up and he is going to idolize someone that plays football in the NFL, and I'm sure it's not going to be me. (laughter) But he's going to want to have a picture. Just having that perspective of it – what goes around, comes around. Can I say it doesn't help me? I don't know. Being the football player that I am, I don't know. But I think being a father helps me in how I am as a person on and off the field, becoming better and growing maturity in that way."
(In preseason, we had tattoo sleeve Tua. Now we have cornrow Tua. Is this a new level of self-expression?) – "Nah, not really. Just trying them out. Obviously not my tattoo, because that's permanent. But just trying to see what this is with my hair. That's it."
(Twitter is already kind of ablaze. They think you look like Drake.) – "(laughter) Oh, don't show that to my wife."
(If RB De'Von Achane is back this Sunday, what would do that for the offense?) – "Well, we've all seen the things that he's done for our offense while he's been in. He's an electric player. He's phenomenal. He understands the game. He understands where he goes. He understands his assignment. It's going to be good. And it's not just him. We have a lot of other guys that are starting to get healthy again and hopefully are going to see the field this weekend."
(Across the NFL, scoring is down. I think it is at its lowest since 2017. But you guys have kind of been able to buck the trend. What would you attribute that to? There's been a change in defensive styles. We're seeing more two-high. Defenses are stopping the pass. But what would you credit this success to for your offense?) – "I would credit that to everyone on the offense. Our offensive staff, starting with the head man (Mike McDaniel), to (Offensive Coordinator) Frank (Smith), to our coaches position-wise, and then everyone buying in on the offense. None of that could be possible if we're all not bought in. It's an effort of everyone – all 11 guys – making this offense come to life, because if you look on film, a lot of what we do with our (play) actions and whatnot, we can't go and find that film from another team because nobody is necessarily running the top actions that we run as much. It's really all based off of the training, the fundamentals, the techniques that we've been going over every week in practice, and going out and trusting what you see and executing that."
(Without even playing last weekend, you guys opened up what is now a one-and-a-half game lead in your division. How important is it for you to be a division champion as opposed to going into the playoffs as a wild card?) – "It's important for all of us. It's not just important to me. It's important for all of us to win our division. In order for us to win our division, we have to start with this upcoming game. We can't worry about what happened with anybody else in our division. We have to look forward and our next opponent is the Raiders. It's one of those things where we're all in this together. We all have to be in this together in order for this thing to go where we know it can go and where we want it to go."
(Is winning league MVP a goal for you, a consideration at all for you? Is that something that enters your mind?) – "Brother, I just want to help our team win the Super Bowl. I think that would be the greatest deal. When everything is said and done, no one can take that away from you."
(On the defense, there's obviously a lot of guys over there that are getting healthier and we've seen them take strides in the past few weeks. I'm curious what you've seen or noticed, improvements or anything like that, going against them in practice?) – "I think for me, the biggest thing is I see a lot of guys flying around. There's a lot of accountability that has been going on, that has been going on since training camp with guys communicating. Sometimes the communication wasn't right and sometimes the conversations between defensive guys is not always pretty. To be able to see how hard they've worked through training camp and whatnot, to see everything starting to come together for those guys is I think a really, really empowering thing to see for us offensively and as a whole. The defense knows when we get the ball, we're able to get things going. And we know if we get stopped, we can trust our defense and they'll get us the ball back."
(When you watch the Raiders tape, what would you say their defensive identity is?) – "Well, I think the thing they do really well is play together, obviously. If you look at the past two games that they've played in, defensively, I mean they look really good. No. 98, Maxx Crosby, is all over the field. If you look at his film, no straggling from that guy. You can see why he's talked about the way he's talked about. I've got a lot of respect for him. I think that's someone we're going to need to keep our eye on. And they have good guys in the backfield. It's not a team to sleep on and we have to be ready for whatever they have to throw at us."
(Timing is such a big part of this offense. One way defenses can disrupt timing is applying pressure. Although you've been kept clean a lot of games, what are some of the things you and the offense can do when opponents are applying pressure?) – "Yeah, understanding who our hot guy is. We have many plays where a lot of what we do, our timing beats the pressure. When it is a look where we don't have time to re-ID or flip the protection, we have to be on our P's and Q's and understanding what you have to run and the timing of the play. That's what I would say."
(Coming off the Germany trip a couple weeks ago, it must be sweeter than ever to be back at Hard Rock Stadium. You've answered this in some different ways this year so far, but 16-2 over the last 18 games at Hard Rock Stadium. What is it about that environment? That's an incredible record.) – "Yeah, for one, it's our home. We've been able to play there for a good amount of games. We understand what the grass is going to feel like. I know that sounds silly, but every little thing in the NFL has a game-changing difference in winning and losing and things like that. I also think just the fans that we have. The fans have gotten louder and louder over the years since I've been here. I do think that has helped. But it's always fun to be able to play in front of your hometown crowd."
(Going back to timing for a second, I know you're unloading the ball in like 2.2, 2.3 seconds a lot of the time. I wonder have you at all worked with Dan Marino? He was so known for that quick release. Have you and him worked together on that at any point?) – "I never got to work with Dan out on the field, dropping back and whatnot. But I've been able to gain some wisdom from Dan when he is in our meeting room. We ask questions, not just me. How would you read this? How would you look at this? Dan gives his insight. The cool thing with Dan, Dan is very blunt. Dan always tells me the same thing, and it's the same thing he's told me since I was a rookie. 'Pick a guy and let it fly.'"
(Back to the cornrows. Allen Iverson? Any inspiration there?) – "Allen Iverson? Man, no A.I. inspiration. Dude's a baller. Got a lot of respect for him. It was just one of those things where my hair was wild. I wanted to see what I could do with it. If I couldn't do anything, I was going to chop it off. But Drake? Ah, I don't know if I look like Drake."
(Can you rap?) – "Kiki" (laughter).
(Wifey likes it though?) – "The wifey likes it. She loves it. Got to get it redone before the game."