Read the full transcript from Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's press conference on September 13, 2023.
(You told us last week leading up to the game that you felt healthy and felt strong. Everything you did in the offseason with jiu-jitsu, whatever else you did, how satisfied were you Sunday with everything you put in?) – "It was a good team win. That's how I look at it. That's how I always look at it. Without the guys up front blocking, without the guys outside catching, without our run game, none of that for me was possible. And without the defense getting that stop against a good offense, I don't think we'd all be here talking about the win that we had and the accomplishments that everyone on our side of the ball had."
(We saw a video that you had worked on the exact throw from that third-and-10 where you ran up and threw the deep ball to WR Tyreek Hill. What's the thought process in working on some of those plays that to some appear very rare that they would come up in a game, but when they do come up, it helps that you practiced it?) – "It always helps when you're practicing something and you've practiced it to a point where it becomes second nature. That's a point of emphasis that I've had this offseason. And it's also things that we've been able to work with our guys this offseason as well – with our receivers, with our backs – is when plays are broken, when the first read's not there, second, third reads not there or there's pressure, where guys need to be, where guys are going to be in certain times when the pocket breaks down."
(We've seen you have some of your best plays after a mistake where after a turnover or something like that. You have some ridiculous passer rating in the play right after. What has that process been for you in terms of forgetting what just happened, being resilient, and just going out to the next play?) – "Yeah, I think that's been a big growth for me this offseason is being able to sort of erase the last play and really hone-in on what the next play requires of me. And the saying of each play stands on its own merit is sort of the approach that I take when I'm given a play to go and throw out there. Sometimes that play could be an interception or I could have got sacked on that play, and we call it again, you can't think 'Okay, since you threw this interception, you're not going to read it this way anymore. You're going to change how you read it.' For me, it's alright, each play stands on its own merit. How would you read this if you were in your flow? You'd read it this way. This OTAs, this training camp, that's how I try to put my frame of mind in as far as each play and you just got to go out there and make the correction and continue playing."
(We heard WR Tyreek Hill talk about meetings that receivers and quarterbacks had after practice or started doing after practice. Is there anything more that you can share about those meetings?) – "Yeah, I wouldn't say started doing. I would say that's something we've been doing since last year with our guys. We've been getting the guys together since last year to talk about where we want them to be, how we're expecting them to run a certain route. If it's a seam route versus this team, if it's an out route versus this team, things to be aware of. And then there's a lot of other things as far as communication that we talk about. On a Thursday, I get the guys together and we talk about third downs. We don't have any meetings after that. The coaches aren't in our meeting. So that's been something that we've been doing since last year."
(So nothing new, no new meetings?) – "No there's no new meetings. Nothing. That's how we've been doing it."
(You said you don't watch cable and don't really watch TV. But after your performance, there's a lot of talk about you and attention on you. Your MVP odds are I think the leader on a lot of sites. I was curious after a performance like you had, does your phone buzz a little bit more and if so, how do you compartmentalize and focus on maybe letting every game stay on its own merit?) – "Yeah, I would say it like when you start the season, it's Week 1. Everyone overreacts on everything. (That's) my personal opinion. Take that for what it's worth. You're either going to win the Super Bowl after you win your first game or you're the worst team ever and everything that comes with that. So I would say for myself, that's one of the reasons I don't pay too much attention to the outside noise. But yeah, to me, that's all it is. Like we still got to go on the road and we got 16 more games to play against 16 really, really good teams. And it starts with New England this week. And that's our main focus."
(Familiar opponent this week against the Patriots. That's a defense known for really changing the post-snap picture compared with what they show pre-snap. How challenging do they make it on you with how they body things up post-snap?) – "Yeah, they do a lot of good things and it starts with their front, their front seven. How they're able to maneuver where guys are, they're exchanging personnels, making things look the same in that sense. Coach (Bill) Belichick has been coaching in this league for way longer than I think I've been alive. So he knows exactly what he's looking at when he coaches his guys. Nothing new under the sun for that guy. So we got to come out, we got to be prepared. We understand that that's a physical team and they're going to make us earn everything that we can."
(How has going against that schemed defensively in practice the first couple years of your career, how has that helped you have success against them?) – "It's helped me have success because it's tough with the way they set their fronts. Like for me, within the early years, protection was a big thing. And that's something that if it's not schemed up well, it could give you problems. Regardless if you have the fastest guys outside or if you have the perfect play called, it really doesn't matter. So we're going to have to really hone-in on our technique and our fundamentals as well going against this team."
(What does Head Coach Mike McDaniel do so well from an external standpoint to get guys open?) – "We have a lot of moving parts in our offense. And that gives a lot of communication off to the defense. If they're going to pass this, if they're going to run with that, what they want to do if we go from a spread out three set to a condensed three-man side. If they want to triangle, if they want to box, like whatever they want to do, you're forcing the communication. And then all the things with if we're running right, we got guys sliding right, sliding left, you don't know if it's a run, if it's a pass, if it's a keeper. So there's a lot of things that I think Mike does really well, given what the rules are for the defense to put our guys on the offensive side of the ball in good position."
(Is it more complex this year than last?) – "No, it's not more complex. I think it's just the guys feeling more comfortable, hearing the plays in huddle, understanding what we want to do on this certain play, and then going out there and knowing what to do."
(I wanted to go back to the third-and-10 play. It traveled like 50 yards in the air, and you've been taking deep shots. This past week anyway, you took more deep shots, than just about anybody in the NFL. What do you attribute that success to? How much better do you feel about your ability to strike deep? How did it all come together?) – "I think when you look at deep shots, it entails everyone. For those watching, it's like, you can't just take a drop in the NFL and just decide, 'Hey, because everyone says I can't throw the ball deep, let me just chuck this ball deep as far as I can.' It entails everyone on the offensive side to work together, to be in symphony and guys to be at the right places at the right time. Timing has to be right, and if timing's not right, like when the pocket breaks down and it allows for you to do that, then it does. But like being able to do that, that's because of all the guys that I'm surrounded with."
(Do you think that anyone is still saying you can't throw deep?) – "I don't care. (laughter) I mean, I don't care. 466 is – that's what 466 is if I can't throw deep, thanks."
(I say you're 4-0 against the Patriots, you say what?) – "Every year is the new year. 4-0, 0-4, doesn't matter. I don't care, I don't think those guys care. I don't think my teammates care. They care about this year and what problems that team has to offer us, both offense, defense and special teams. We're looking for a tough game. It's always tough to go on the road against a team like that. It's against a Bill Belichick coached team, so you never know what to expect."
(We talked a little bit about that third-and-10 play, but what did you see from your eyes? We saw the play, it looked like a receiver fell down, but can you maybe take us through that play from your eyes?) – "Yeah, really I think they defensively they tried to play double robber with running Durham (Smythe) through the middle, which is what they did with their linebacker last year, No. 49. But with that play, we had a spin route, and then because of the timing of it, 'Reek' (Tyreek Hill) had to kind of miss the count before he ran like a man-go basically. My read was to read it inside out, down to the back, and that's basically what I did. I read the spin, it was unfortunate that Jaylen (Waddle) fell, but very fortunate that he fell, because we were able to step up in the pocket and find Tyreek down the sideline."
(How nice was it to see T Terron Armstead back at practice today?) – "It was really good. It was really good. It was really good to see someone like Terron (Armstead). I don't know if anyone was driving here early in the morning, but Terron had his car broken down, and I think I'm a bad teammate because I passed him and I didn't come back. (laughter)"
(You didn't come back?) – "Yeah, I didn't. I wasn't going to pull off to the shoulder and just reverse, you know what I mean? Like, 'Yo, Terron! I'm coming to get you.' (laughter) But yeah, I saw him, but it was one of those things where I saw him, but I wasn't sure if it was him. I didn't know what he drove too, so it was one of those things where I was just like, 'Hey Drew, I think that was Terron on the side.' He was like, 'Yeah, that was him.' I was like, 'Well, I'm here already. I can't go back.' (laughter) But it's good to have him back, his leadership, just his presence in the huddle, guys love him. But that doesn't take away from the work that Kendall Lamm has put in as well as Austin Jackson and basically all those guys, Connor Williams, Rob Hunt and then we've got Isaiah Wynn. Those guys have done a tremendous job against (Joey) Bosa and Khalil Mack. So props to them, and I hope that's something that we can continue offensively."
(I want to ask you about TE Durham Smythe. Obviously, he put up a pretty productive game last week. Is there more potential for what he can do now that he's kind of the featured tight end?) – "Yeah, I would say yes. There's a lot that entails Durham (Smythe) in this offense. It's a lot. He probably has maybe the second or the third most responsibilities, and that's between Connor (Williams) – I got to take myself out of that – that's between Connor and maybe Alec Ingold. But he definitely has a lot on his plate, and he makes it work. He's one of those sneaky athletic guys that you wouldn't think could do much with the ball, but I think he's put more than enough on tape that guys need to be cautious about him."
(Do you see parallels early in your career between you and QB Mac Jones because of the way he's been judged through his first two seasons and now maybe has a chance to get things right with a better system around, now finally having an offensive coordinator, things like that?) – "I don't think I've paid attention to the noise of anything for any of the other guys or basically myself. But I know that Mac (Jones) is a competitor. I know that he's going to want to make things right, so it's a no-brainer for me that regardless of the outside talk, he's going to be himself, that he's going to go out there and do all he can to help his team win. But yeah, 'Bama (Alabama) on 'Bama, that's what happened last week with Jalen (Hurts) and Mac. Mac has got to go again, 'Bama on 'Bama. So we'll see, it'll be fun."