Stephen A. Smith on First Take Photo credit: ESPN

Almost exactly one year after claiming Tua Tagovailoa specializes in deep passes, Stephen A. Smith claimed the quarterback only dips it two yards.

So which is it? Does Smith believe Tagovailoa has strong downfield ability? Or does ESPN’s preeminent hot-take artist believe the Miami Dolphins quarterback can only dink and dunk his way into the end zone? Apparently, it depends on the day.

During a Tuesday morning segment on First Take wondering if Miami’s quarterback is the frontrunner for NFL MVP this season, Smith implied Tagovailoa is just the beneficiary of being able to throw screen passes to Tyreek Hill.

“I don’t know if y’all watching Miami enough,” Smith said Tuesday on First Take. “All of these passes ain’t for 19, 20, 30, 40 yards. You just got Tua dipping it two yards to him and he’s the one taking it to the house.”

Ironically, as Smith made the seemingly bogus claim, ESPN was airing a highlight package of Tagovailoa which featured him throwing five deep passes. The only short-yardage throws by Tagovailoa in the highlight airing alongside Smith were red zone touchdown passes. Even more ironic, almost exactly one year ago, Smith argued against the very take about Tagovailoa that he attempted to make Tuesday morning.

When the Dolphins began the 2022 NFL season 3-0, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo revealed himself as a Miami doubter, claiming he needs to see more out of Tagovailoa. According to Russo, Tagovailoa’s arm strength was a question mark. “I can’t see him throwing deep balls,” Russo said, a hot take that Smith quickly chimed in to debunk.

“He actually specializes in that, Doggy. That’s not true,” Smith retorted. “Throwing the deep ball, even from his days at Alabama, that’s not a problem.”

From specializing in the deep ball to claiming Tagovailoa only throws two-yard passes, this was a Colin Cowherd-level flip-flop on a hot take by Smith. Maybe we can get a special segment on First Take later this week featuring Smith debating against himself. In one corner, we have 2022 Smith boasting about Tagovailoa’s downfield pass ability. On the other, we have 2023 Smith arguing that Tagovailoa doesn’t throw it deep. It might be the only way we’ll ever see Stephen A. Smith concede to losing a debate.

[First Take]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to