Since the start of last season, Tua Tagovailoa has started and finished 13 games. The Miami Dolphins are 10-3 in those games. All three losses came last season, in road games against playoff teams.
Tagovailoa had a bit of a slow start to his career, although it wasn’t as bad as many thought. At the start of his third season last year, at age 24, he started to take off. That is a reasonable development.
But for some reason, there is still a problem when it comes to giving Tagovailoa his due respect and placing him among NFL quarterbacks. There is always some qualifier, some reason for people to hold back when it comes to praising Tagovailoa.
Here’s the truth: Tagovailoa is elite and the Dolphins are Super Bowl contenders. There are no qualifiers, other than Tagovailoa staying healthy. Once again, the Dolphins scored a big win with Tagovailoa in the lineup, overcoming another road test with a 24-17 victory against the New England Patriots. Miami had to hold on in the final minute with New England in Dolphins territory, but no one apologizes for a road win against a tough opponent. That’s two quality road wins to start the season, with Tagovailoa starring in each of them.
Tagovailoa is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He stops strong. And if he continues to play like he has the first two weeks, he will be an MVP candidate.
Tua Tagovailoa has another great game
Everyone wants to keep reminding the Dolphins that they made a mistake by choosing Tagovailoa over Justin Herbert, but did they? Since the beginning of last season, Tagovailoa has been more productive. And the Dolphins have been better than Herbert’s Los Angeles Chargers. The only thing that lags behind is the narrative, which for some people developed when Tagovailoa wasn’t an instant Alabama star.
The Patriots have become a bland and boring team, but they still have a fantastic defense led by Bill Belichick. Belichick can make life very difficult for quarterbacks, especially young ones. Tagovailoa was good against the Patriots and, as a bonus, on the road.
On a day when Herbert couldn’t move the ball when he received it first in overtime against the Tennessee Titans, here was Tagovailoa’s passing line in the first half: 15 of 20, 181 yards and a touchdown. That came after a 466-yard comeback day over the Chargers in Week 1. His touchdown to Tyreek Hill just before the end of the first half put the Dolphins ahead 17-3. Tagovailoa and the Dolphins offense weren’t great after halftime, but it wasn’t a day where the Dolphins needed him to put up 466 yards to take the win.
Tagovailoa may not have the cannon arm of other superstar quarterbacks or the electric dual-threat ability of others, but he has tremendous accuracy in all areas of the field, a great understanding of where to go with the ball (i.e. , towards Hill, up and down). finished) and fantastic anticipation. Those are quarterback skills, too, and Tagovailoa is elite at them.
If you prefer a quarterback who can throw it through a brick wall, that’s fine. If you want a quarterback who can put up yards, touchdowns and wins, Tua has quickly become that guy.
Miami’s defense also plays well
Sunday night’s victory wasn’t just due to Tagovailoa and the offense. Miami’s defense, which gave up too many points last week against the Chargers, was much better Sunday night.
Vic Fangio’s scheme will fit the Dolphins well. They kept everything in front of them for much of the game, without allowing many explosive plays. The Patriots’ offense looked pretty good against the Philadelphia Eagles last week, but had a big challenge Sunday against the Dolphins.
The Patriots finally had signs of life late in the third quarter when they got Brenden Schooler moving and he timed his run perfectly, cutting through and blocking a field goal attempt. But on the next drive, Mac Jones threw an interception deep down the sideline to Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard and Miami maintained its 17-3 lead.
The Patriots scored to cut Miami’s lead to 17-10 in the fourth quarter, then Tagovailoa made a big mistake. He threw short on a deep pass to Hill and was intercepted by Christian González. Miami’s defense picked up their quarterback, got a sack and forced a quick three-pointer. Raheem Mostert ran a 43-yard touchdown on the first offensive play after New England’s punt, and that pushed the lead to 14 points. However, the Patriots would not disappear. They scored, then the Dolphins made the ill-advised decision to attempt a 55-yard field goal, which they missed. The Patriots had just over two minutes and good field position, needing a touchdown to tie it.
The Patriots appeared to convert a fourth-and-four on an unplanned wild lateral play from tight end Mike Gesicki to guard Cole Strange. Gesicki was missing the first attempt and had nothing to lose, so he passed it to Strange, who stepped up. But a replay review showed Strange was missing the first down and the Dolphins took possession.
It wasn’t always pretty in the second half, but it was a win. The Dolphins have gotten a lot of them with Tagovailoa lately.