The first 16 games of Tua Tagovailoa’s career have been a journey. He entered the NFL after a near career-ending hip injury during his final season in Tuscaloosa. Halfway through his rookie season, with little knowledge of the offense, Tagovailoa was named the starter over a hot-handed Ryan Fitzpatrick. Factor in the constant rumors of his head coach and team owner’s desire to trade for superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson, and it’s needless to say that Tagovailoa has been dealt a rough hand to begin his career.
Tagovailoa began the season with a win against former Alabama teammate Mac Jones and the New England Patriots. The following week, he took a big hit and suffered fractured ribs. He missed the next three games before returning to face the Atlanta Falcons. Over the next three games post-injury, Tagovailoa threw for 825 yards, six touchdowns, and four interceptions. Another minor injury benched him against the Houston Texans and until halftime against the Baltimore Ravens. In an upset victory, Tagovailoa came in as a relief pitcher in the latter contest and played well against the Ravens defense.
With this wild timeline of events, Tagovailoa was met with expectations to finish the season with a strong performance. So, how exactly has Tagovailoa done the past few weeks?
Against Baltimore, he completed eight of his 13 attempts for 158 yards and one rushing touchdown. Next up, a matchup with the New York Jets proved to be another efficient and productive day for Miami’s starting QB. Tagovailoa completed 27 of his 33 attempts for 273 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.
Fast-forward to this past Sunday, squaring off against the Carolina Panthers’ top-10 ranked defense, and the results were much of the same, completing 27 of his 31 attempts for 230 yards and one touchdown. Back-to-back games with a completion percentage over 80% puts him in elite company. Only other quarterbacks to accomplish this feat: Kyler Murray, Drew Brees, and Peyton Manning.
The Dolphins and Tagovailoa have six games remaining in the regular season. That means, he has ample opportunity to continue his recent play and prove he is Miami’s quarterback of the future.
It is possible to grade on a curve, right? Since Week 6, Tagovailoa has ranked among the top quarterbacks in efficiency. On the other hand, his protection has ranked as the bottom-graded offensive line per PFF.
The Dolphins are six spots from the seventh playoff slot in the AFC. If they can continue their winning streak, they can find themselves in playoff contention to end the regular season. Tagovailoa has done more with less offensively and finished the month of November strong.
The season is not over but Miami’s former top-five selection is answering the bell. He has shown the ability to up his game and make winning plays. A strong finish to the season would make the decision to move on from him even more difficult, especially if the team sneaks into the playoffs with this roster.
The Dolphins could have their quarterback of the future already on the roster. Time will tell as we march toward the playoffs and the end of the 2021 regular season.