Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa finally agreed to a three-year With Detroit Lions worth $80 million, including $41 million guaranteed.

Dolphins' Tua Tagovailoa finally agreed to a three-year With Detroit Lions worth $80 million, including $41 million guaranteed.




The Dolphins Wanted To Let Tua Tagovailoa Go. Now They’ve Unleashed Him.






The Dolphins have been trying to move on from Tua Tagovailoa seemingly since he arrived in Miami. But the QB is silencing doubters with a sizzling start to 2022.





All of the quarterbacks the Miami Dolphins wanted instead of Tua Tagovailoa are struggling: Tom Brady is off to one of his worst-ever starts, Deshaun Watson is suspended, and Jacoby Brissett just lost a seemingly un-losable game to the New York Jets.





Meanwhile, after Sunday’s monster comeback-win performance in Baltimore, Tagovailoa leads the NFL in passing yards and passing touchdowns1 and is No. 2 in total QBR, while the Dolphins are 2-0 with a 77 percent chance of making the playoffs (and a 5 percent chance to win the Super Bowl).





It’s a continuation of the upward trajectory Tua has been on for a while now. Since coming off the bench in Week 10 of last season, Tagovailoa has been a top-10 quarterback: He ranks eighth in raw QBR (62.7), seventh in passer rating (99.1), seventh in expected points added per dropback (0.14), and eighth in yards per dropback (6.69), according to ESPN Stats & Information Group. And he only gets better as the game goes on. In fourth quarters across that span, Tagovailoa ranks second (80.4), fourth (111.9), sixth (0.19), and sixth (7.51) in the same stats, respectively.




Last year, I wrote that Tagovailoa’s clutch performances were a growing inconvenience for a Dolphins organization set on replacing him. But while he impressed with effective, accurate throws late in games, he often struggled early — and rarely threw deep. Now, not only is Tua’s “clutch gene” still active, but he’s improving his overall game. And Tua hasn’t just gotten better at his bread-and-butter short passes.




Through the first two games of 2022, he’s also finally attempting (and completing) the big-play passes that had been missing from his arsenal.


Much was made of new head coach Mike McDaniel’s offensive acumen after he was hired this offseason, and he was open with the press about his evaluation of Tagovailoa: McDaniel called Tua a “very accurate” passer, with an uncanny feel for the game and a long track record of rising to big occasions. But even at his most effective in 2021, Tua wasn’t aggressive looking downfield. He finished 28th in air yards per attempt (6.92), per ESPN Stats & Information, and 29th in the rate of passes that went at least 20 yards through the air (7.5 percent).




The acquisition of speedy receiver Tyreek Hill was supposed to help Tua’s short, accurate throws become explosively vertical via runs after the catch. But Tagovailoa has also been flat-out tossing bombs. He currently ranks fourth among qualified passers in adjusted completion percentage,2 with 33.7 percent of his attempts traveling at least 10 yards in the air (which ranks 11th), and 10.8 percent going at least 20 yards (13th). A greater share of his pass attempts have resulted in first downs (42.2 percent) than anybody’s but Patrick Mahomes.


Tagovailoa has developed particular chemistry with the 1-2 receiving combination of Hill and second-year wideout Jaylen Waddle.




As noted by NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Waddle gained more yards on vertical “go” routes on Sunday (73) than he did all of last season (43), and amazingly, Hill’s 108 go-route yards against the Ravens approached his 2021 season total (147) while playing with Mahomes.

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