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Tua Tagovailoa on Mike McDaniel: Having someone that believes in you makes all the difference

In the wake of a wild Week 12, the FNIA crew sort through the AFC playoff picture and predict which teams will be standing come season's end.

The Dolphins returned from their bye week on Sunday to win their fifth straight game and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa remained a big part of their success.

He was 22-of-36 for 299 yards and two touchdowns before exiting the game with the Dolphins comfortably ahead of the Texans in the second half. After the game was over, Tagovailoa did an interview with Aditi Kinkhabwala on the field and discussed what first-year Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel has meant to his success.

“Having someone that first off believes in you makes all the difference,” Tagovailoa said. “Having someone that calls me randomly just telling me how much I mean to him and the things that he’s trying to accomplish and we’re trying to accomplish as a team. It’s cool. I’ve never had that, I’ve never experienced that. This is my first time experiencing that kind of relationship with someone that is the head coach of an organization — just love that guy.”

In his press conference, McDaniel was asked about Tagovailoa’s comments and said he perceived that confidence was lacking when he met the quarterback. That made building it back up a key part of his first months on the job.

“This was just using intuition, that getting beat up and having your existence be completely tainted by people saying that you aren’t X, Y or Z, and then on top of that, from my vantage point, I felt like he was put behind the 8-ball in a way with the — basically his strengths, he couldn’t play to,” McDaniel said. “And so if you’re not able to play to your strengths and your position that one of the reasons you’ve gotten there is you’re an unbelievable point guard, I felt, how could he, with all the things going on. It’s a lot of loud noise that you try to ignore, but people are human. It was intuition, and it started seeing him every practice once he started getting a little bit more confidence each and every day. You could see his personality evolve and that’s when I learned kind of how deep it was, because I’m learning his personality – the first day I meet him is who I know him as, and then you fast forward a month and a half, and he’s a different guy. Then retroactively, like wow, that was real.”

The process has paid off handsomely for the Dolphins thus far and there’s plenty of reason to believe that confidence in Tagovailoa, McDaniel, and the rest of the team will continue to surge in the final weeks of the regular season.