Why Tua Tagovailoa will be a different player in 2023

Miami Dolphins v Houston Texans
Miami Dolphins v Houston Texans / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages

Aside from the string of injuries QB Tua Tagovailoa suffered in 2022, the quarterback made a giant leap and had the best season of his young career last season. Leading almost all relevant statistical categories leading up to his first major concussion, Tua quieted all doubters and showed why the Dolphins selected him fifth overall back in 2020.

The one knock against Tua that remains is his easy-going, laid-back demeanor. That's hardly a serious knock, but there were fans who wanted to see some fire and intensity in him. Well -- 2023 is here and we are seeing a new Tua. This guy has some newfound intensity and has not held back in the slightest.

As Matt Serniak aptly described it, Tua put ESPN's Ryan Clark in a body bag in a post-practice media scrum on Wednesday, responding to Clark's criticism of Tua's athletic training. This fiery response certainly took me aback as the usually calm and collected Tua decided to inflict some sharp and harsh words on the analyst, demanding Clark to "keep my name out your mouth" in true Will Smith fashion, and threatening to get "scrappy" with the former defensive back. Okay, Tua!

As a famous sitcom featuring a sea sponge once quoted, that's what we've been waiting for! New Tua is crazy Tua and we love to see it. Us fans aren't the only one reveling in the chaos of new, spicy Tua, as star receiver -- and favorite target of Tua -- Tyreek Hill chimed in with his support of his quarterback on social media.

While chirping at the talking heads on ESPN is one (very fun) thing, this isn't the only indication Miami is getting a new version of Tua. As I've mentioned, Tua has always been relatively quiet. He's been someone who hasn't let much bother him in the way of the game. While being mostly quiet means he's not being a distraction or a detriment to the team, as a quarterback, you almost want a loud, passionate, and vocal leader. Coming into 2023, there have been various reports of Tua taking more of a leadership role and being a more vocal and passionate presence in the locker room.

Imagine if Tua is able to pick up where he left off last season and put up dominant, efficient numbers again, but with the killer mentality of a Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes. Tua appears to be oozing confidence and that's likely what led to this sudden shift of attitude. If your quarterback is fired up, your entire team will feed off that energy and good things will happen. With that being said, we don't want Tua lowering his shoulder into defenders and hurting himself, but maybe some jawing after the whistle and a soundbite here and there can truly unlock the potential of this Miami offense.

In a "prove it" year for the quarterback, who's set to make $23 million in 2024 before becoming a free agent in 2025, maybe Tua does need to be a different personality. If he wants the Dolphins to believe he is their face of the franchise, worthy of a long, lucrative contract, we need to see some fire in him. We need to see confident throws, leadership in the form of firing up his teammates, and we need to see a guy who clearly wants to win on this team. If this preseason is any indication, we could be getting that guy this season.