Miami Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa is a quarterback who has been ridiculed for inconsistent play ever since his first NFL start in 2020.
Blame for his inconsistencies has been put on everything from his own inaccuracy to the inconsistent players around him.
These inconsistencies put Tagovailoa on the hot seat this offseason, as the repackaged Miami offense gives Tagovailoa seemingly no excuses for poor play and a lack of production offensively.
The addition of Tyreek Hill coupled with the sophomore season of Jaylen Waddle’s NFL was considered one of the most highly regarded wide receiver duos headed into 2022, providing Tagovailoa with an undeniably top-tier receiving core.
Dolphins’ wide receiver Tyreek Hill spoke on the subject during a segment of his YouTube show It Needed to Be Said, stating that this is Tagovailoa’s prove-it year as an NFL quarterback.
“You know, in the NFL they only give you like two or three years to be a successful quarterback, especially if you’re a first-round draft pick. And if you don’t succeed after those years, then it’s kick rocks, man,” Hill said. “So, basically, they’re going to put Tua into that. So this is basically his last year, man, just to show people what he’s got.”
As expected, the Dolphins’ head coach Mike McDaniel has supported Tagovailoa throughout the offseason, propping up his quarterback with high remarks.
He spoke about Tagovailoa’s accuracy, claiming that Tagovailoa has thrown the prettiest and most catchable ball McDaniel had ever seen.
“’Tua actually has one of the prettiest balls I’ve ever caught him in my life… Tua is a very accurate QB,” McDaniel said in an interview with Dan Le Batard during the early preseason.
The Dolphins opened their season with a win over the New England Patriots 20-7. The offense was by no means automatic, as a sluggish running game yielded just 2.1 yards per carry for their top running back Chase Edmonds, rushing 12 times for just 25 yards.
With this, Tagovailoa didn’t exactly shut down the doubters, punching in an average performance with 270 yards and a single touchdown through the air.
Despite this, all eyes were on Tagovailoa headed into their week 2 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens, a team with a high-powered offense that would likely produce a shootout against Miami. This game would undoubtedly test Miami’s offensive firepower if the defense failed to shut down opposing quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Prior to the matchup in a post-practice press conference, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh spoke on the vastly improved offensive arsenal that Miami would be bringing this past weekend, pointing towards their speed as the largest point of emphasis.
“They’ve done a good job down there, and Coach [Mike McDaniel] has done a great job of tailoring it to their players, tailoring it to their quarterback Tua,” Harbaugh said. “Obviously, speed, they have two of the fastest receivers in football playing for them.”
Despite the pressure, Tagovailoa has been facing this offseason, he didn’t disappoint in Miami’s 42-38 win over the Ravens.
Tagovailoa finished the day with 469 passing yards and 6 passing touchdowns, putting on easily the best quarterback performance through the first two weeks of the 2022 NFL season.
The speed that Harbaugh pointed to showed up as well, with Tyreek Hill hauling in 11 receptions for 190 yards and 2 touchdowns and fellow speedster wide out Jaylen Waddle hauling in 11 receptions for 171 yards and 2 touchdowns. In short, the Miami Dolphins’ offense was unstoppable.
Even with a stellar performance from Lamar Jackson, who rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown and threw for 318 yards and 3 touchdowns, the Ravens defense could not keep up with the speed of Hill and Waddle.
The career-best performance by Tagovailoa led to a media frenzy, with many claiming that Tagovailoa’s era of doubt has come to an end.
Jaylen Waddle gave high praise to Tagovailoa in his post-game press conference, claiming that this type of performance is the expectation for Tua.
“We expect that from him,” Waddle said. “We’re confident in him, he’s confident in himself. I mean, it’s good for y’all to see but we kind of expect that.”
Whether or not this performance will be the regular for Tagovailoa moving forward, it will not be erased from history. Miami fans have walked away from week 2 of the NFL season with a newfound sense of confidence in their 3rd-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.