MIAMI GARDENS – Turnovers are on Tua Tagovailoa’s mind.
So much so that, twice after the Miami Dolphins’ 20-13 win over the Las Vegas Raiders last Sunday, without being asked, he mentioned having to limit turnovers in response to interview questions that They had nothing to do with them. First, on the field with CBS when asked about the team’s turnaround on the offensive line, and then again at the podium answering a question about Miami’s running game.
The Dolphins turned the ball over three times Sunday (twice on Tagovailoa when he threw an interception and lost a fumble) to keep the Raiders in a game Miami should have otherwise dominated.
Despite all the good Tagovailoa has done behind center (leading the NFL in touchdown passes per game and second in passer rating and passing yards per game), the Dolphins quarterback has 11 turnovers in 10 games, throwing eight interceptions and losing three fumbles.
He insists on protecting the ball and turning his words into action on a short week when the Dolphins (7-3) face the New York Jets (4-6) at MetLife Stadium in a 3 p.m. kickoff. Friday.
“Completes, extending drives, continuing to get the ball to our playmakers and keeping it moving that way,” Tagovailoa detailed as things he can refine to limit turnovers.
Miami’s coaching staff can appreciate Tagovailoa’s firm responsibility in working to eliminate the problem.
“When it comes to turnovers, you have to look at the root of them. When you deal with responsible guys, you know you’re going to get better,” offensive coordinator Frank Smith said. “Their commitment, the commitment of the entire group, will be the reason we improve.
“If you have that deliberate nature about the importance of ball security and you approach your day that way, that usually creates that habit that you’re looking for.”
The Dolphins offense, although it has faltered lately, is still number one in total yards, scoring and passing, and second in rushing yards. That being said, Miami hasn’t surpassed 20 points in three of its last four games, averaging 20.5 points per game in those four.
Beyond the three turnovers, two of them in Miami territory, the Dolphins were 3 of 11 on third down and failed on their only fourth down attempt. A common theme there is the offense’s shortcomings in short-yardage situations.
The Dolphins are 13 of 25 in third-and-3 situations or less, good for 27th in the league. Miami is also 3 of 7 on fourth-and-short attempts.
“It’s not just one thing. It’s one thing here and another there,” Smith said. “You hope that over the course of a year, in the end, things will even out.
“It’s just about making sure we’re on the same page, connected because 1 yard is important. Ultimately, when you’re halfway through the season, things can change with the emphasis and focus of the group.”
Fullback Alec Ingold added: “It’s execution. I think they are details, situational football. … The job of the short-yardage offense is to continue to extend drives, extend first downs, to gain field position. All of this will come into play at the end of the season. It is something we are very aware of as players and we have to improve on that, without a doubt.”
The Jets defense that Miami faces is 11th in total defense, fifth in passing defense and tied for eighth in takeaways, forcing 16 turnovers on the season.
Preparation is packed with a short week before the first NFL Black Friday game. Tagovailoa mentioned that it helps that he’s a division opponent in the Jets that the Dolphins are familiar with, but that doesn’t apply as much to Tagovailoa himself. He missed Miami’s two games against New York last season during his two separate stints in concussion protocol.
Tagovailoa expressed what he is grateful for before Thanksgiving: “I am grateful for everyone in my life. I am grateful for the life I have, the life I get to live. I am grateful to be able to live this life. Very fortunate to be living the dream I have had since I was little.”