MIAMI — Seeing Miami Dolphins followers carrying his jersey take over Laborious Rock Stadium by no means will get outdated for Dan Marino. Even 21 years after retirement, the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame quarterback continues to be the person in Miami.
“I used to be capable of play right here so lengthy and to see the followers nonetheless care in any case this time. It is particular and I like it,” Marino instructed ESPN. “It is essential to me. I am pleased they nonetheless do it.”
However Marino additionally is aware of the strain of changing him has magnified because the Dolphins have failed time and time once more throughout the previous 20 years to seek out their franchise quarterback. Miami has had 22 beginning QBs since Marino retired in 2000, and the present one — Tua Tagovailoa — has the potential to lastly be the reply.
Tagovailoa has the star energy — ending within the high 5 of all gamers in jersey gross sales as a rookie. He is already a folks hero in Hawaii and Alabama, the place he was born and performed faculty soccer, respectively. However after an up-and-down rookie season (14 touchdowns to five interceptions with 6-3 file, however a median of 181.4 passing yards per sport and hesitancy throwing the deep ball), questions stay about whether or not he would be the proper man to steer the Dolphins to an elite stage.
The Dolphins are relying on a giant 12 months 2 bounce. If Tagovailoa exhibits he can lead this crew to championship rivalry, followers could be as all-in on the Tagovailoa-led future as they’re on the Marino-led previous.
“I hope he does,” Marino stated. “It might be superior for everyone, would not it? A very powerful factor is to be your self, be who you might be and work your butt off. It will work out.”
The main target round Tagovailoa this offseason has been about his confidence. He admitted recently that last season he “wasn’t comfy calling performs, checking performs, alerting performs” and he “did not know the playbook actually, actually good.”
Each feedback led to widespread criticism from a number of media shops, however Dolphins coach Brian Flores stated it was overblown: “Actually, I simply assume he is evaluating final yr to the place he’s proper now, and I get it. I perceive that. I keep in mind being a first-year place coach and popping out of that yr, going into the spring, going into the following season and saying, ‘I might’ve been higher final yr. I ought to have been higher. I am higher now.'”
Early Tagovailoa critiques are constructive because the Dolphins head into obligatory minicamp this week. Large receiver DeVante Parker stated Tagovailoa’s “mechanics and footwork look totally different,” plus the “ball comes out quicker.” Tagovailoa, listed as 6 ft, 217 kilos as a rookie, additionally appears stronger and larger. He says he is extra comfy with this playbook and scheme underneath co-offensive coordinators George Godsey and Eric Studesville. Tagovailoa additionally says his hip feels “10 occasions higher” than it did this time final yr coming off his career-threatening dislocation and wall fracture at Alabama in November 2019.
Throughout a wide-ranging dialog with ESPN, Marino mentioned what he has seen from Tagovailoa, his view of how being an NFL quarterback has modified since his enjoying days (1983-1999) and his well being journey, which incorporates two current knee surgical procedures and a return to a Nutrisystem plan to assist him shed weight.
Tagovailoa ‘has all of the expertise on the planet’
Marino, who has labored for the Dolphins as a particular adviser since 2014, is aware of loads about 12 months 2 jumps given his second season — 1984 — is taken into account top-of-the-line QB seasons of all time. He additionally will get an up-close view of Tagovailoa and the offense by attending practices and conferences all year long.
“He is been nice. He is been superior. He has all of the expertise on the planet. Now it is nearly him creating the connection with the opposite gamers,” Marino stated of Tagovailoa. “It has been robust as a result of he did not have OTAs final yr, a whole lot of the summer time camp or the prospect to play in exhibition video games. All these issues delay you considerably. I will let you know, he works his butt off. I am actually enthusiastic about him, his future and our future as a crew.”
The quarterback made clear he is not “Coach Marino,” simply “somebody who may help at occasions with my view of sure issues.”
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) June 2, 2021
Over the previous yr, Tagovailoa stated he valued Marino’s occasional perception added throughout quarterback conferences. Rely Marino amongst those that consider Tagovailoa will probably be a lot improved.
“As time goes on you, you get a greater deal with [of things]. You already know your individuals. That is what OTAs is about, getting your timing down,” Marino stated. “He performed loads final yr and when he performed, we gained video games. We virtually acquired within the playoffs. All that may be a constructive. You attempt to construct from the positives.
“He desires to be actually good. And in time, he will get there as a result of that is what kind of child he’s.”
‘I’d assure you 6,000 [yards]’
Marino smiles whenever you point out 1984.
He would not say it instantly, but it surely’s a straightforward guess it was his favourite season as a professional — successful MVP, reaching Tremendous Bowl XIX, breaking the passing-touchdown file (48) and turning into the primary NFL QB to eclipse 5,000 passing yards (he completed the 1984 season with 5,084). Peyton Manning ultimately broke each information and stays the file holder after his historic 2013 season (55 touchdowns, 5,477 yards) with the Denver Broncos.
“I look again at it typically and I really feel like we have been doing one thing very particular again then as a gaggle, as a crew, as an offense, as people that nobody did for 30 years [afterward],” Marino stated. “Now guys are throwing for five,000 yards on a regular basis, so it is going to occur on a extra constant foundation. However to me, it is nonetheless a particular deal from 37 years in the past.”
With the NFL shifting to 17 video games, information will probably be damaged. There have been 12 5,000-yard seasons, with 10 of them coming inside the previous decade, and Marino believes a 6,000-yard season will occur. Then he pauses and his aggressive QB spirit comes out.
“If I used to be nonetheless youthful with [Mark] Duper and [Mark] Clayton, I’d assure you 6,000,” Marino stated. “However I haven’t got to do it now. I haven’t got to show it.”
Marino says the sport has developed fairly a bit since his enjoying days. He lists the superior entry to docs, well being info, coaching methods and meals choices, all of which have created the widespread notion of larger, stronger quicker gamers. However by way of quarterback play, he sees just one important distinction.
“How you can take care of protections on the line of scrimmage — defenses have modified some with a number of blitzes and totally different personnel — we did a few of that stuff, but it surely’s much more difficult now than it was within the early ’80s,” Marino stated. “So far as throwing it and studying the protection, that hasn’t modified. It is nonetheless 11 guys on 11 guys.”
Marino then turns it again to those present Dolphins. Coming off a 10-6 season by which they narrowly missed the playoffs, there’s one more reason for Marino’s Dolphins optimism: Flores. Marino performed for arguably the best coach of all time in Don Shula, so his perspective on Flores is efficacious.
“Coach Flores has been unimaginable,” Marino stated.
“So far as self-discipline and guys enjoying exhausting for him, that is all there. I do not assume that is going to alter. He is been an important addition for us. Guys, they wish to comply with him.”
Chris Canty explains how Tua Tagovailoa can enhance in his second yr because the Dolphins’ QB.
‘Attempting to influence the sport any approach I can’
Marino walks loads higher as of late with two new knees. He had spent greater than a decade preventing it off however lastly gave in, getting knee substitute surgical procedure final November and once more in March when the ache worsened.
“It was from enjoying soccer since somewhat child. All of the operations, plus enjoying on the actual turf that was like concrete. I did all of the scopes, there was no cartilage left. It was getting fairly dangerous,” Marino stated.
“However I really feel higher now. Possibly I will play once more. I am 59 years outdated. I can nonetheless throw a fade route.”
Immediately, Marino says he is in a greater place. His Achilles, which he tore in October 1993 in opposition to the Cleveland Browns, wasn’t repaired correctly and nonetheless bothers him. However he acquired his knees performed in order that he might transfer round nicely along with his grandkids. He is 20 to 25 kilos heavier than his enjoying weight and he has a summer time purpose of consuming higher to lose some kilos.
Transitioning away from soccer is usually a problem, Marino admits. He was capable of have a easy lane to a broadcast profession for CBS and HBO, after which landed the adviser function with the Dolphins, however he believes probably the most troublesome half for gamers is sustaining their bodily and psychological well being outdoors of a crew construction.
“It is about having fun with your life daily,” Marino stated. “All of us have household conditions. I am going by way of stuff with my one sister now the place it isn’t simple and it isn’t going to be good. You simply should do the most effective you may, be as open as you may, the entire speaking about life is so essential.”
Marino admits former gamers all speak about these scary three letters — CTE, or continual traumatic encephalopathy. He says it definitely “hits your thoughts,” however he’s blessed it “hasn’t impacted me in any respect, but it surely does influence gamers. It is a part of our life — we select to play the sport of soccer.”
Within the almost 45-minute chat, Marino’s aggressive nature pokes by way of a number of occasions. When his 1983 QB draft class that included Broncos nice John Elway and Buffalo Bills legend Jim Kelly is introduced up, Marino notes they do not compete anymore at their ages (Kelly is 61 and Elway is 60). Then he pauses, tries to withstand the zinger, however decides to let it free.
“Once we’re collectively, we all the time have an excellent time,” Marino says. “John continues to be a fairly good golfer. I am undecided I can beat him in golf. However I do know I can beat up on Jim Kelly for positive.”
So far as soccer, he will get his pleasure watching Tagovailoa and these Dolphins. His adviser function would not put an excessive amount of stress on him, but it surely additionally makes him part of an ascending Dolphins crew that appears poised for a playoff look within the close to future.
“Sitting in a gathering right here or there, being across the coaches, being round follow, making an attempt to influence the sport any approach I can. I like soccer. I am blessed at my age to nonetheless be part of the entire thing,” Marino stated. “Attempt to see our Dolphins be higher, make the playoffs and win the Tremendous Bowl sometime. If I is usually a small a part of that, it will imply the world to me.”