Breaking Down Tua Tagovailoa’s 1st Game Back From Injury

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After missing several weeks with a rib injury, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa made his return on Sunday.

Tagovailoa was one of Miami’s lone bright spots in the team’s 23-20 loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He put in one of the better performances of his young career.

With the loss, the Dolphins now sit at a miserable 1-5 on the season. They have lost five straight games after winning their season opener against the New England Patriots.

For how good he was, Tagovailoa was unable to lead the team to victory in London. Here’s a breakdown of the 23-year-old’s performance against the Jaguars.

What went well

There were a lot of positives within Tagovailoa’s performance. He completed 33 of his 47 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns.

The University of Alabama product looked confident throughout the entire game, especially on the first drive. He was constantly avoiding pressure, making good throws and being aggressive. Miami’s offense arguably looked the best it has the entire season.

He made a point to get his top targets, Mike Gesicki and Jaylen Waddle, involved early on. That’s something that the Dolphins have struggled with the entire season.

On the first touchdown pass to Waddle, Tagovailoa made a fantastic call.

Tagovailoa will have more weapons once DeVante Parker, Preston Williams and Will Fuller come back. When they return, all three of those receivers should be very useful for Tagovailoa and Miami’s offense.

The second-year quarterback showed that the Dolphins offense has some potential, but there’s still a lot of things that it will need to work on. The team is only averaging 16.5 points per game. It’s one of the lowest averages in the league. Miami has lots of playmakers on offense, and they have to find ways to use all of them.

Tagovailoa’s touch was there on many throws throughout the game. That’s something that will be important for him to maintain moving forward.

Dolphins head coach Brian Flores believed his starter had a solid game.

“I thought Tua played well,” said Flores. “Very good throws. Stepped up in the pocket. I thought he played well.”

Gesicki also showed support for Tagovailoa.

For his first game back, Tagovailoa had lots of positives. This type of performance is something he and the Dolphins will need to build on in the coming weeks. Yes, there are definitely some things to work on, but this is a great way to resume his season.

What can he improve on?

While his performance was mostly filled with good moments, there were also some bad mistakes.

The first one came during the second quarter with the Dolphins driving down the field. On a third down with just a couple yards to go for the first down, Tagovailoa attempted to pass the ball to Waddle downfield when he could’ve easily run it for the first down himself.

It was something small, but moving forward he will have to make sure to shore up those lapses as they could eventually become costly.

Everything was fixed right after, however, as Tagovailoa completed a 20-yard pass to Mack Hollins on fourth down.

Later in the game, Tagovailoa threw an interception. The throw was a very poor choice, something he acknowledged after the game.

“That was a bad decision,” Tagovailoa said. “Should never have went like that.”

It seemed like Tagovailoa completely underthrew the pass. His arm strength is something many have been worried about. During that play, he also could have checked the ball down to running back Malcolm Brown, who easily could have gained a couple of yards.

Those two issues are things that can be fixed. Still, they are surely things for the Dolphins coaching staff and fans to keep an eye on.

Final verdict

Tua Tagovailoa

Performance grade: B+

Sunday’s loss isn’t on Tagovailoa. He admitted he’s still not 100 percent from a health standpoint. Should the Dolphins have won the game? Yes, they absolutely should have. Tagovailoa surely has things to work on.

However, fans shouldn’t overlook the fact that he had a very solid performance. While everyone has a right to be frustrated with the overall team play, Sunday’s performance proved that Tagovailoa can enjoy success at the NFL level.

Even after the interception, which was his worst play of the game, he came back on the ensuing drive and drove the Dolphins down the field for a touchdown.

The former first-round pick was able to bounce back easily in Sunday’s game. Things on offense should get better once Parker, Williams and Fuller return. The offensive line also struggled again, so if they improve their play, the offense can open up even more. Everyone will need to step up and help Tagovailoa as he looks to lead this yeam.

Even with the loss, Tagovailoa is confident that the team is close to where they want to be.

“You just have to get things corrected, get things fixed and continue to put your head down and work,” Tagovailoa said. “I think that’s the only way you go about those kind of things. I think we’re very close as a team to getting where we want to be.”

Miami’s next game will be on Oct. 24 at home against the Atlanta Falcons. One can only hope that Tagovailoa’s performance against the Jaguars is just the start for him.

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David is a University of Maryland graduate who grew up most of his life in Miami. He has experience in writing, editing and video production, and he's excited to be able to contribute to Dolphin Nation.