Tua Tagovailoa has won 13 games in two years and here is who he beat

Tua Tagovailoa (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Tua Tagovailoa (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Tua Tagovailoa has been one of the most polarizing figures in all of the NFL since he arrived to the Miami Dolphins three drafts ago. It’s a love/hate affair.

The debate nationally continues over Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert who was taken with the next pick. Herbert has yet to lead his team to the playoffs but was rookie of the year and has over 30 touchdowns in each of his two seasons.

Tagovailoa on the other hand has missed games due to broken ribs and a broken finger. He has been pulled on short-yardage situations for Jacoby Brissett, been replaced by Ryan Fitzpatrick for poor play, and was kept on the bench even when he was healthy, for Brissett.

Through all of this and through the entire Brian Flores fiasco, Tua has kept his head straight and focused on getting better.

Compared to Herbert, Tua is doing just fine. Tua has 13 wins to Herbert’s 15 but has only 8 losses to Herbert’s 17. Herbert has played 32 games to Tua’s 23. They have an exact identical completion percentage with a 66.2%. It’s the TDs that are glaringly different with Herbert at 69 and Tua at 27 but Tua also has 10 fewer interceptions.

Comparable stats are all well and good and work well when you are debating a fan of another team but the question is this, who has Tua really beaten?

In 2020, Tua took over the starting job against the Rams at Hard Rock Stadium in week seven. The Dolphins won 28-17. The Rams were one of the top defensive units in the league and his first play from scrimmage was a hard hit strip-sack fumble.

Tua Tagovailoa
Tua Tagovailoa Miami Dolphins (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Tua started nine games in 2020, three of them against playoff teams.

  • Rams – 28-17 win
  • Cards – 34-31 win
  • LAC – 29 – 21 win
  • Den – 20 – 13 loss (Fitzpatrick took over this game in the 4th quarter and was not able to get Miami more than a field goal. An errant throw late resulted in an interception that sealed the game for Denver. Tua finished 11 of 20 with one touchdown and no interceptions.
  • Cinc – 19 – 7 win
  • KC – 27 – 33 loss
  • NE – 22 – 12 win
  • Raiders – 26-25 win (replaced by Fitzpatrick late)
  • Buf – 26-56 loss

2020 was up and down as expected for Tua. Fitzpatrick replaced him twice during games winning one and losing one. His game against the Chiefs was close with the defense eventually giving up too much for Miami’s offense to recover. In 2021, Tua started 12 games. 4 against playoff teams.

  • NE – 17-16 win
  • Buf – 0-35 loss (Tua was knocked out of the game with broken ribs on the 2nd play from scrimmage. He would miss the next three games)
  • Jax – 20 – 23 loss (lost on last second FG)
  • Atl – 28 – 30 loss (lost on last second FG)
  • Buf – 11 – 26 loss
  • NYJ – 24 – 17 win
  • Car – 33 – 10 win
  • NYG – 20 – 9 win
  • NYJ – 31 – 24 win
  • NOR – 20 – 3 win
  • Ten – 3 – 34 loss
  • NE – 33 – 24 win

Looking at Tua’s games it is apparent that he has had far more success against teams that have not made the postseason but there are always reasons some games stick out. We didn’t include the Ravens victory where Tua replaced Brissett and led the team to a win, we did include the win against New Orleans when they were completed decimated by COVID.

Against Tennessee, it was revealed after the season that the Dolphins had no offensive game plan going into the game and yes, Tua has yet to beat the Bills but he is perfect against the Jets and Patriots so far in his career.

Tua has beaten some good teams, Arizona, New England, the Rams, Chargers, and a couple of others and he has lost to some surprisingly bad teams like the Falcons and Jacksonville. Both of those games were lost when the defense couldn’t stop them on their final drives while the Dolphins were holding a lead. The argument is should that be Tua’s fault? No, but should they have been in that position?

Tua Tagovailoa
Justin Herbert (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

What do we learn from this? Not much if we are being honest. Tua has lost games he should have won and there are games that he has won against teams that are simply bad football teams. We enter the 2022 season with no clarity as to who Tua really is as a quarterback.

Breakout season for Tua with Tyreek Hill?. dark. Next

Over two seasons, are his problems a result of bad coaching, bad play calling, bad offensive line play, and so on? Or should we look at Tua himself as the problem? A player that can’t lead his team to a win by carrying the team on his shoulders? You could make an argument either way because there is so much to defend and blame to put on him.

In the end, it really doesn’t matter who has been beaten or who hasn’t. The fact is he has won games and lost them and has not seen the postseason. But for those who want to point again at Herbert, we can note that over his two seasons, he has beaten one playoff team in 2020 and four in 2021. So do the win/loss records really mean anything for these two? Not yet, not until one of them reaches the playoffs at least.