Tua Tagovailoa led the Miami Dolphins to their second postseason birth but he couldn't lead to an AFC East championship. Now that the season is over, how does he grade?
Tua's 2023 season can be graded quite easily. I would give him a "B" grade for the entire year. There were moments of bliss and far too many head scratching moments that can't really be explained.
4,000 plus yards and a Pro Bowl birth highlight the Dolphins QB's season. Tua was incredible early in the season and he stayed in the MVP talk most of the year. He was nearly unstoppable at times.
Tua's quick release is as fast as Dan Marino's and probably faster than any other QB in the NFL right now. His accuracy is equally incredible and the only time he makes mistakes is when he gets in his own head.
There are problems with his game and some of them need to be coached out.
The truth is Tua is inconsistent. Not with his accuracy and not with his release but his decision-making leaves a lot to be desired. Tua can think quickly to the point of his first and 2nd reads but when he is forced to improvise, he can't do so at a consistent level.
That is a big problem for Tua and it hinders his game. It is what keeps him from being elite. Tua has shown more accuracy than Patrick Mahomes and more reliability than Josh Allen but when plays break down, both the previous are head and shoulders above Tua. It is no wonder they are both still in the postseason.
Teams led by quarterbacks that can adjust on the fly, tend to do better than teams with QBs who can not.
Tua's accuracy and release mask other areas of the team that are problematic. Specifically the play of the offensive line. That may not be a bad thing.
When Tua can't deliver the ball to his first or second reads, protection breaks down, and that forces Tua into an unnerving situation where he has yet to show consistently he knows what to do.
The Dolphins need to see more from their QB. Is he worth a $200 million extension? Probably but if there was another year to wait, the Dolphins should take it. The problem is they will either play him at a $24.5 million hit or extend him. Next year that price could and likely will go higher.
One big knock on Tua is that he has yet to carry the team on his arms and legs. Tua relies on a solid running game and fast receivers but as we said, when it all breaks down, he can't adjust and make plays with his legs or buy time to give his WRs time to adjust.
This is a problem. While Tua may play well against defenses that don't challenge him, he struggles against the ones that do and when the playoffs roll around, teams are good enough to challenge the other team.
The 2024 off-season is going to be interesting and Chris Grier has said they are hoping to get Tua an extension because they want him around for a long time. They may want it but in this instance, Grier needs to take a more strict approach to what he is willing to do.
Tua getting a "B" makes sense whether some fans agree or not. He had a good season but when the game was on his shoulders, he couldn't carry that weight.