Year Three will be a make-or-break year in Miami for Tua Tagovailoa. While the former Alabama QB has been decent for the Dolphins, he’s yet to lead them to the postseason. There’s absolutely no reason that shouldn’t change in 2022 with how the team has been restructured to focus more on the offensive side of the ball.
The NFL on CBS posted this statistic showing the number of 40 plus yard passing TDs for Tua and Odell Beckham Jr. in their careers. OBJ has twice the amount of 40+ yard TD passes than Tagovailoa. Anytime a quarterback stat is used to compare a starting QB to any other position on the field, it doesn’t usually speak highly of the QB in that equation.
That’s not a stat to be proud of, but it shouldn’t be a complete indictment of Tua’s ability. And I think we’ll see that change this fall when Tagovailoa is throwing to Tyreek Hill 10 or more times per game. With enough tries, he’s bound to get lucky with at least two of these long TD passes to Hill.
Miami brought in a new head coach, Mike McDaniel, who just coached in the NFC championship game last season with San Francisco. Along with McDaniel comes veteran coach Darrell Bevell to oversee the QBs. Bevell was offensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, working closely with a young Russell Wilson helping them make two Super Bowl appearances and winning one.
Tua should only get better, and so should the Dolphins. I’m not saying I expect Miami to win the AFC East. That will be the Buffalo Bills’ division to lose for years to come. The Dolphins finished 9-8 last year, narrowly missing the playoffs. Tagovailoa posted a 7-5 record as a starter, passing for 2,653 yards, 16 TDs, and 10 INTs. All that needs to improve, minus the interceptions.
Arm strength has been one of the big question marks in Tua’s game during his first two years in the league. Among other things like injury history, a perceived less than average arm is one aspect of Tagovailoa’s game that continuously resurfaces seemingly after every game he plays. But this year, there shouldn’t be any issues with all the added weapons he’ll have at his disposal.
Besides trading for Hill, Miami snatched Cedric Wilson Jr. away from the Dallas Cowboys in free agency. And don’t forget Tua also has former Alabama teammate Jaylen Waddle at wide receiver. With all that speed and playmaking ability on the field, there’s no reason Tagovailoa shouldn’t throw somewhere around 25 TD passes. Tua only played 12 games last season, but had he played all 17, he still wouldn’t have reached 3,500 passing yards based on his average of just over 200 yards per game.
If the Dolphins defense can stay around the middle of the pack, similar to last year, this team should seriously compete for a spot in the postseason. But ultimately, Miami’s fate will come down to what Tua and the offense produce. He showed subtle improvement from year one to two, and now it’s time for a breakout campaign.
Tua ranked 18th in QBR last season and 26th his rookie year. Last year, every QB in the top 15 posted a QBR of at least 52.3, while Tua was at 49.7. With a revamped arsenal on offense, Tagovailoa should be able to jump up into that 12-15 QBR range.
So, the Dolphins are hanging in there with their guy; now it’s time for him to prove them right and everybody else wrong. Tua doesn’t need to put up gaudy numbers like Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady, but a substantial improvement and, more importantly, making the postseason will be expected.