The Miami Dolphins and Tua Tagovailoa started their 2021 season with a big win against their divisional foe the New England Patriots. While it’s still early in the season, it was important for the Dolphins to get off to a hot start against a divisional opponent, especially when the AFC itself looks like a strong conference.
While the win is nice to have, the offense, at times struggled in this one. It’s still early in the season, but there are going to need to be some massive improvements from this unit if they are going to compete for a postseason birth.
The silver lining, however, is that second year and highly scrutinized, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa did a commendable job in this one. If he can fix a few things, he may actually develop into the player that he looked like back at Alabama.
Tagovailoa went 16 for 27 for 202 yards with a touchdown and an interception (stats courtesy of ESPN.com). This is not an impressive stat line, especially compared to how Mac Jones played. These numbers, however, are a bit deceiving as there was a decent amount of good to take away from this performance.
The Dolphins’ first drive of the night was a perfectly executed drive-by Tagovailoa, who looked sharp, demonstrating accuracy and, most importantly, great timing on his throws allowing the team to march down the field. Tagovailoa capped off the drive with a three-yard touchdown drive and the offense looked like it was already in mid-season form.
I don’t want to say the wheels fell off, but they definitely wobbled a bit, most notably in the first half.
After that touchdown drive, Miami proceed to punt the ball away three times in a row, with Miami’s offense looking poor at best. Tagovailoa did his best to try and keep the offense moving, but there were a few miscommunications, a big drop by rookie Jaylen Waddle and a poor decision that almost resulted in an interception that killed any momentum.
Coming out of the half, Tagovailoa and the offense seemed to find their rhythm in the locker room and the talented quarterback led a great drive right down the field to put the Dolphins ahead. On the ensuing drives, Miami’s offense once again sputtered and Tagovailoa made his biggest mistake of the night, by far.
With a little more than 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter and Miami facing a third and 7, Tagovailoa scrambled to avoid pressure and made a terrible decision trying to create something magical when there simply was no real opportunity to do so. New England ended up coming down with the interception, which could have cost Miami the game had the defense not come up with a huge turnover late in the game.
It would be unfair for me to grade Tagovailoa’s day on just one incredibly poor throw, but it simply can’t be ignored. In complete fairness, I thought Tagovailoa did a really good job on his throws over the course of the day. He looked great when throwing the ball downfield, and the majority of his throws had great zip on them. In fact, his stat line would have been much improved if not for an incredible defensive play by Jalen Mills who tipped the ball away from Albert Wilson after a great throw by Tagovailoa.
By all accounts, Tagovailoa looked good, but not great in this one. There is no doubt that he still has a lot to work on in order to be in the conversation with the best in the league. Yet, there were definitely some bright spots from his play today, even if there were a few boneheaded moments as well.
Week 1 QB Grade: B