The re-evaluation of Tua Tagovailoa: is it a real deal?

The Miami Dolphins tried to catch Deshaun Watson, even at the risk of fan backlash. They tried to catch Tom Brady, even at risk of NFL tampering.

They tried all sorts of ideas because, it’s pretty clear, they didn’t want to try again with Tua Tagovailoa for the 2022 season.

Yet no matter how hard they tried, nothing worked.

And now, perhaps, it is Tagovailoa who is becoming the star they have always been looking for.

It is early. Painfully soon. The small sample size and all of these caveats definitely apply.

Yet Miami is 2-0 and Tagovailoa is coming out of a 469-yard performance and six touchdowns in a 42-38 penalty win over the Baltimore Ravens. He was named AFC player of the week for the effort.

It wasn’t just that he amassed large numbers. He conveyed a calm and a sense of control over the game that speaks to this being more than just a hot day against a weak defense.

He even recovered from two interceptions and a sack to play his best in the fourth quarter. It was there that Miami scored four touchdowns to dig from a 21-point hole and duel former league MVP Lamar Jackson.

In the past, it is entirely possible that Tagovailoa would have collapsed under the pressure and mistakes. Sunday was the next game.

Sunday’s six touchdowns in a win over the Ravens showed Miami what Tua Tagovailoa could finally become. (AP Photo / Julio Cortez)

“I want to do good every time I go out there,” said Tagovailoa. “I don’t want to launch wiretaps; I want to launch touchdowns. I want to put our team in the best possible situation, but you know we have to be realistic. You know those guys on the other side of the ball get paid too. And they are really good players.

“All I can do is go out there and do what we did in rehearsal,” he continued. “I’m just going to play football and hope I can bring home victories.”

Whatever doubts there was in the past about Tagovailoa, there are apparently none inside the Dolphins’ current locker room. This is their boy, and this is the boy they have seen developing during the off-season and training.

“I think there is also something about the fact that none of his teammates were surprised, which has a lot more impact than words,” said Miami manager Mike McDaniel. “You can hear that when guys, they’re not like, ‘Whoa, man, where did he come from?’ “

Maybe the Dolphins aren’t surprised, but almost everyone else is. The problem for Tagovailoa was that he couldn’t throw deep, he couldn’t drive like a franchise guy, he let the mistakes snowball.

Where Miami once tried to replace him, it has instead surrounded him with guns. The addition of Tyreek Hill from Kansas City to go with Jaylen Waddle means the Dolphins are full of deep threats … and a QB that proves he can hit them.

Tagovailoa had two touchdown passes from over 40 yards on Sunday for Hill, including one who traveled 55.5 yards through the air, according to Next Gen Stats.

So this is the real Tua: the guy who led Alabama to a national title, won a Crimson Tide QB derby that included Jalen Hurts and Mac Jones and finished fifth overall in the 2020 draft despite facing an injury at the hip who ended his college career early?

Time will tell, but in Miami right now the Dolphins think this is the real guy.

“I don’t have to say much, man, all you have to do is watch his movie about the game,” said Hill, who made headlines last offseason when he stated that Tagovailoa was more accurate than Patrick Mahomes. “He is yours, who he is and how consistent he is.”

Well, it wasn’t consistent. His 27 touchdown passes in his first two seasons as a pro were offset by 15 interceptions. He completed a good, but not incredible, 66.2 percent of his passes. There’s a reason Miami wanted Watson despite the baggage.

Tagovailoa’s 2022 numbers: seven touchdowns versus two interceptions, plus a completion rate of 71.1. And these are just the basic stats. Part of that has been attributed to improved mechanics resulting from a relentless season of work.

Tagovailoa took all the stories about how Miami wanted someone else and used her to become the guy she needed.

“He did a terrific job with his footwork,” said passing game coordinator Darrell Bevell. “I think you can go back and look at some of last year’s works compared to what he’s doing this year. It is an important goal for us. He’s focusing on the focus and I think he’s done a good job with that. “

It’s just two games. They are only two victories. There is still a lot to prove.

Say this about Tua Tagovailoa, however, he knows all this, he knows all the doubts of the past and he hasn’t let it affect his game. If he’s still proving himself to the Dolphins, then so be it. He seems happy enough to do it.

“He deserves it,” McDaniel said. “No one was given. He has earned every ounce of what I know that players respect a lot. “

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