Tua Tagovailoa showed flashes of playmaking ability but struggled mightily down the stretch of his rookie season, getting benched twice as the Miami Dolphins came up just shy of the postseason.
With the Dolphins' brass standing behind Tagovailoa, the Alabama product has the reins in Miami moving forward. The key in Year 2 is growth.
Joining NFL Network's Good Morning Football on Thursday, Tua was asked if he's the franchise QB for which Miami has been searching for years.
"I would say yes," he responded. "What I can do is just control what I can control. My focus is being the best person that I can be. Working hard. Making this Year 1 to Year 2 jump in the NFL."
Tua got off to a solid start in his rookie campaign and displayed his high upside in a Week 9 win at Arizona in just his second start. In that contest, the rookie QB showed fearlessness putting the ball in tight windows, a willingness to escape the pocket when necessary and pinpoint accuracy.
Unfortunately, the more he played, the more the rookie struggles took hold. Under Tua, the Dolphins offense became a predictable slog, with nearly all throws restricted to a box. The rookie looked fearful of mistakes and no longer seemed willing to push the ball downfield or find tight-windows.
Tua was benched twice late in games in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick. The difference between the offense when the veteran was in the game was stark.
Tagovailoa believes getting a full offseason to focus on his craft instead of rehabbing will be critical to that Year 2 improvement.
"First off, this will be my first offseason," he said, noting last year he was rehabbing from a hip injury. "I think having an offseason where I can now try to focus on other things aside from the rehab side of things, I can focus more on film work, I can focus more on my footwork, my pocket presence, things like that."
Many rookies are better prepared to enter their second pro season. As a rookie, so much time is spent preparing for the draft, weeks and months are lost that could be spent delving into becoming a better football player.
Tua noted that the main thing he's focusing on this offseason is his pre-snap acumen.
"The biggest thing I want to work on is my pre-snap operation, getting to the line, seeing what the defense is giving," he said. "Also, just knowing where everyone (on offense) is going, knowing what everyone should be doing."
Tua owns talent; that much is unquestioned. To take that Year 2 leap, the mental aspect must catch up quickly, or the Dolphins will be right back where they started in their search for a franchise QB.