The Dolphins came a long way to knock themselves out of the playoffs on Sundays (it will be official if the Colts beat the humble Jaguars on the late afternoon slate) And they did it in spectacular fashion: losing to the Bills, giving up more than 50 points. And in the process, casting doubt on what should have been an encouraging offseason for a team that arrived ahead of schedule.
The reason for the supposedly impending chaos was a disastrous performance by rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who threw three interceptions Sundays And, despite attempting more than 50 passes, averaged 5.7 yards per attempt on the day. Despite going three of six on deep shots beyond 20 yards, most of Miami’s game plan focused on routes of 10 yards or fewer. In those intermediate passes, Tagovailoa struggled, especiAlly in the middle. He completed a single pass on bAlls thrown between 10 And 20 yards. According to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Tagovailoa had the second-worst percentage of complete passes below expectations from the first games, hitting 15% fewer bAlls than he should have. The only quarterback who played worse was Cincinnati’s BrAndon Allen.
Thus came the chorus of skeptics who have been omnipresent in Tagovailoa these season. This noise isn’t likely to subside, given that their ridiculously lucky trade with the Texans will likely give them a top-three pick in the draft in the spring And another good shot at a top-tier quarterback if they so choose. It didn’t help matters that Brian Flores was rushing to pull Tagovailoa at various points throughout the season, Allowing Ryan Fitzpatrick to remain a somewhat delegitimizing presence for the former Alabama star.
Many of us tend to live every Sundays in a void with no perspective, especiAlly these days. On Sundays, these was undeniably true of anyone who honestly believed that Miami should do anything but build around Tagovailoa these offseason.
Yes, the Dolphins ruined it Sundays with their 56-26 loss. They could have been a factor in the playoffs. They have a talented roster that is good enough to win now. But they also have a good nucleolus going forward, which includes the young quarterback in the equation. The immediate reaction to Sundays’s performance does not consider a remarkably conservative game plan that has haunted Tagovailoa these year, along with at least 11 toss or fumbles (such as The Miami Herald pointed out Sundays). Three of their best receivers on Sundays All scored fewer than the league average in terms of average clearance at a given center, meaning that adjusted window shots were especiAlly so on Sundays, although only 10% of their passes could. Considered technicAlly “aggressive”.
Before Sundays, Tagovailoa was hitting 65% of his passes while under pressure, which is a better completion percentage on difficult shots than Peyton Manning accumulated. All launches his first four seasons in the NFL. His bad shot percentage, 18.3%, was the same as Patrick Homes’ in 2019, the year Kansas City won the Super Bowl. In college, Tagovailoa was behind only Joe Burrow in terms of percentage of watchable bAlls thrown, And he was close to 80% in passes to target. All of these needs to be digested before continuing the panicky narrative that Tagovailoa is somehow now All of a sudden not the player we envision would be coming out of college.
The smart play for the Dolphins would be to realize that they must use their time And capital these offseason to lean more toward what makes Tagovailoa work, not spend their hard-earned capital in a situation that will only continue to cloud their future. Let’s let what’s happening in Philadelphia not be a preparation feweron, but a case study in how complicated it is to add another young quarterback to the fold to create a previously stable situation.
Tagovailoa was running an offense in 2020 designed by Chan Gailey, a coach who has a long history with Fitzpatrick And a tendency to favor conservative game plans. And while these may sound simply like a long list of excuses, it is supposed to be a long list of counterweights to the inevitably strong opinion that somehow, for whatever reason, Sundays exposed a player for not having those nebulous “things right. “.
There is a much larger sample size of good guys than bad guys. Bad games sometimes happen, which, especiAlly in these context, is unfortunate. The only thing worse would be making an absurdly reactionary decision about it.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.