Tua Tagovailoa was "belittled" as NFL star praised after concussion and retirement fears

Tua Tagovailoa was "belittled" as NFL star praised after concussion and retirement fears

Updated: 3 days, 15 hours, 39 minutes, 58 seconds ago

Osi Umenyiora - a two-time Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants - revealed he is most thankful for Tua Tagovailoa's impressive run with the Miami Dolphins ahead of Thanksgiving

Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins are the narrative to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, according to NFL legend Osi Umenyiora.

Tagovailoa was heavily criticised through the first two years of his career after the Dolphins spent the fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on him. However, the 24-year-old has stepped up his game following the appointment of rookie head coach Mike McDaniel, passing for 2,265 yards and 18 touchdowns to just three interceptions.

On Thanksgiving Day, Detroit welcome the Buffalo Bills, who are widely considered one of the favourites to win the Super Bowl this season, while the Cowboys will take on their bitter NFC East rivals, the New York Giants, in a blockbuster contest. These games will be broadcast while millions of people tuck into their turkey and mashed potato on Thursday.

While he may have British and Nigerian heritage, Umenyiora has celebrated Thanksgiving plenty of times across his NFL career. When asked what he is most thankful for in the 2022 NFL season, the two-time Super Bowl champion picked the resurgent Dolphins. Tagovailoa was told to retire earlier in the season after suffering a horrific concussion, but Umenyiora is pleased to see him back in the pocket.

“You know what, I really am enjoying what’s going on in Miami,” Umenyiora told Mirror Sport with a smile. “I'm really enjoying it, I can't even lie. Seeing the way Tua got dumped on, it was almost personal in a way.

“There were coaches saying this guy can’t play, and I saw Sean Payton come out and claim he wouldn’t be surprised if Teddy Bridgewater is in at quarterback after a few weeks. So to see a coach come in and tailor his entire gameplay around what Tua does well, it has taken his game to the next level.

“I love to see stuff like that. I really do. Coaching is so important - and so is having coaches who believe in you. People were falling into a narrative of ‘Tua isn’t this’ or ‘Tua isn’t that’ - and now he’s flourishing in a new system. I love it.

Image:

Paul Sancya/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

Paul Sancya/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

“I’m particularly thankful for it because it’s going to allow a lot of other players who have been belittled the confidence and hope for the future. Everybody watching should now wonder if a certain player just has the wrong coach.”

While Tagovailoa has impressed in 2022, there’s a number of quarterbacks who will be under the microscope when they take to the field on Thanksgiving Day. Their matches will be nationally televised, so plenty of eyes will be ready to pick apart every misplaced pass and celebrate each touchdown pass.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is under pressure to bounce back after he was crushed by the Dallas Cowboys, although he faces another unsettled signal-caller in the New England Patriots’ Mac Jones. However, it is New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones who perhaps provides the most intriguing situation heading into Thursday’s slate.

With rookie head coach Brian Daboll at the helm, the Giants have stunned many en route to a 7-3 record. Jones has impressed, appearing to do just enough to keep the Giants on track for a surprise postseason berth as he has passed for 1,937 yards and nine touchdowns while providing a threat with his legs.

Image:

Adam Hunger/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

Adam Hunger/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

Jones is due to be a free agent at the end of the season, and Umenyiora believes his performances have left the Giants in a difficult position.

“They’re in a bit of a conundrum here,” Umenyiora suggested. “You wouldn’t say Daniel Jones is Patrick Mahomes - but he’s a good quarterback. He’s shown he’s a pretty good quarterback. If you don’t re-sign him, who are you going to bring in that’s going to be better?

“There’s not a quarterback in college who right now who I would say is going to be better than Daniel Jones at this particular juncture. Even if they draft a guy, they’re going to be drafting him late because of the way they’re playing, so they won’t get one of the elite quarterbacks.

“They’re in a bit of a situation where they almost have to sign him because nobody’s going to be better, even if you don’t think he’s the long-term answer for you at the position.

“I think he’s going to be with the Giants for the next couple of years.”

You can watch all three Thanksgiving Day matches - Buffalo at Detroit, New York at Dallas and New England @ Minnesota - on Sky Sports NFL.

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