Tua Tagovailoa
Tua Tagovailoa is starting to predictably turn the corner. Tua is on fire and it’s time to drop the nonsense act of pretending like he can’t play. (Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)

Tua Tagovailoa Is Starting To Predictably Turn The Corner

No quarterback in the NFL (beyond maybe Carson Wentz) faces more irrational hate than Tua Tagovailoa. Some of it is understandable based on our new societal norms. Some of it is not. Losing patience with the more efficient passer in the history of college football after eight starts coming off a broken hip seems like broken logic. But we also live in a society where technology has changed the way we view the world. Patience no longer exists at the quarterback position even when historical data points suggest it would be foolish not to.

Tua has had a rough go of it in the NFL thus far. He has an organization that doesn’t believe in him, has had to overcome a horrific injury, deals with a broken running game, the worst offensive line in the league, and no real weapons outside of rookie Jaylen Waddle. Quarterbacks are products of their environments but predictably Tua is turning the corner because he’s too talented with his skill set to not eventually shine through. Tua is quickly proven he’s going to become a terrific franchise quarterback whether it’s with Miami or not.

Do you know who leads the NFL in completion percentage since Week 6?

It’s Tua.

Of course, completion percentage isn’t a perfect stat. There is also a stat called completion percentage over expectation which is designed to filter out easy completion and put more emphasis on depth of target and tight window throws. Guess who leads the NFL in that stat since Week 6?

It’s Tua.

Want to hear something even crazier? Tua completed his second consecutive game with a completion percentage over 80 this past week in the win over Carolina. Only four quarterbacks have ever done that since 1950. He now has three total games with a completion percentage of over 80 needing one more to tie the single season record. Keep in mind, Tua has only started and finished SIX total games on the entire season.

Once again, keep in mind Tua is doing this with an organization that doesn’t believe in him, has had to overcome a horrific injury, deals with a broken running game, the worst offensive line in the league, and no real weapons outside of rookie Jaylen Waddle. What are we doing here again?

Thriving as a young quarterback is hard. It’s borderline impossible overcoming the circumstances Tua has had to overcome. The Dolphins are 30th in rushing offense DVOA which speaks volumes. The offensive line stinks and so do their running backs.

Speaking about the offensive line, it’s not just bad. It’s performing at levels that make you consider whether they pulled fans out of the stands. Liam Eichenberg, Austin Jackson, and Jesse Davis have basically been the three worst offensive linemen in the league and they’re all starters for Miami.

Miami hasn’t completely failed Tua despite trying their damn best to do so. One thing the Dolphins deserve credit for is FINALLY catering their offense to the strengths that make Tua so special. To the surprise of no one, Tua’s efficient nature didn’t thrive in the Ryan Fitzpatrick – Chan Gailey fuck it someone down there somewhere offense.

Tua became the most efficient passer in the history of college football because he’s the best trigger man on the planet running the run-pass option. It’s just a fact. That’s what he does best and thrived doing so at Alabama. Miami has finally leaned into it and Tua is turning the corner.

Tua has run 43 RPOs on the season thus far which is far and away the highest usage of any quarterback on the season. Over 18 percent of Tua’s passing attempts have come on RPOs. The next closest is Colt McCoy at 12.22 percent.

What I can’t understand is why this is seen as a criticism.

A: It’s not like it’s the Dolphins’ entire offense.

B: Isn’t part of your job as a coaching staff to make your young quarterback as comfortable as possible? Are the Patriots opening up the entire playbook for Mac Jones? The answer is no. Even Justin Herbert (who everyone loves) was protected last year as a rookie. The Chargers opened up the offense more this year and Herbert’s interception rate has spiked. There is nothing wrong with making your young quarterback feel comfortable as they’re first entering the league.

C: It’s not like the RPO is a gimmick. The NFL is using it more and more as a common staple of a passing game. Patrick Mahomes uses it too. Are we going to knock him? It’s not like this offense has gone full blown Trubisky smoke and mirrors or the nonsense Baltimore runs with Lamar Jackson.

The RPO accentuates everything that Tua is good at. His accuracy is ungodly, he’s a quick decision maker, and he doesn’t have a cannon like Josh Allen so he’s better served taking those intermediate quick striking routes. Tua is 13-13 on the season when he gets the ball out under 2.5 seconds. He also has the third quickest average time to throw at 2.48 seconds. Only right behind some guy named Tom Brady. Which seems funny because nobody seems to bang on Brady for getting the ball out quick and taking a number of short gimme throws.

Furthermore, he is taking those deeper shots down the field when functioning in the RPO. If that’s what it takes for Tua to make bigger plays down the field during his early career, then so be it. Tua’s 9.3 yards per attempt on RPOs is the best mark in the NFL. His depth on target on such plays only trails Josh Allen.

Of course, Tua’s overall numbers when he holds onto the ball aren’t as pretty. Then again, it’s hard to be successful when you quite literally play behind three of the worst offensive line entire league. Which creates a sort of weird paradox for non-Tua believers. They criticize him for not taking deep shots down the field when it’s virtually impossible to do so given the offensive line. He’s then banged on for thriving in the short and intermediate passing game because he’s not doing it the way we’re used to seeing. Odd…

I know we live in a society where Uber has made you laugh at the idea of waiting for a taxi. I know we live in a society where Amazon exists so the idea of wasting time grocery shopping feels dumb. I know we live in a society where people are impatient, but what the hell are we doing here when it comes to Tua Tagovailoa?

All of the things that me fall in love with Tua Tagovailoa in college are coming to fruition. Tua’s pure accuracy is Drew Brees level good. There is a reason why the former Alabama star has the highest score ever at the Elite 11 camp. He’s too talented to fail. The corner is being turned and he’s finally looking healthier coming off the gruesome hip injury. Let’s just hope Miami realizes what they already have because he’s going to be a good one.

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