(CBSMiami)- After just missing out on the playoffs in 2020, the Dolphins enter the 2021 season with high hopes for building on last season’s 10-6 campaign. How realistic those hopes are will rest on the development of starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who head coach Brian Flores says has looked “more comfortable” thus far this offseason than he did in 2020.

“He’s definitely more comfortable. Has a better rapport with his teammates. I’ve seen him…with a better understanding of how we practice. We’ve seen that from him so far,” Flores said via Josh Tolentino of The Athletic. “Hopefully he continues to grow and improve.”

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As a rookie, Tagovailoa was inconsistent posting four games with 240 or more passing yards and five of 170 or fewer. He took over the starting job after the team’s bye week but was replaced by Fitzpatrick in the team’s loss to Denver and missed the following week against the New York Jets. Then, Flores replaced him again in a critical (at the time) late season win over the Las Vegas Raiders.

Overall, Tua completed 64% of his passes for 1,814 yards with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions as a rookie. The biggest complaint was his lack of deep passing attempts (6.3 yards per attempt) which could be attributed both to playing it safe and also not having as many true weapons around him at the receiver spot.

The team attempted to address the second concern in April’s draft, selecting Tua’s college teammate, wide receiver Jaylen Waddle with the sixth overall pick. They also added former Texans receiver Will Fuller V in free agency. According to Flores, Tagovailoa has already been working with his receivers this offseason, setting up private workouts for the group.

He also stayed in South Florida this offseason to train in preparation for the upcoming season and his trainer says that the quarterback is in the best shape of his life.

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Tagovailoa was coming off a devastating ankle injury suffered in his final year at Alabama last season, so it would make sense that further removed from the surgery he would be back to close to 100% health. Tua and the Dolphins will be tested right out of the gate to start the 2021 season with a trip to New England to face the Patriots on September 12.

CBSMiami.com Team