The Miami Dolphins are fully committed to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa ahead of the 2022 NFL regular season, and they’ve made some serious improvements to the roster around him.
The Dolphins improved their offensive line in free agency, and they also brought in a bunch of new weapons for Tagovailoa. Wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Cedrick Wilson Jr. are fantastic additions alongside Jaylen Waddle, and the team also brought in two new running backs in Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds.
The Dolphins are trying to set Tagovailoa up for success as he enters his third season in the NFL. The former No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft has shown some promise in his first two seasons, but he hasn’t been able to lead the Dolphins to the playoffs.
After making a huge splash by trading for Hill, one of the game’s most dynamic offensive weapons, the Dolphins need to see some improvements from Tagovailoa in 2022.
Here are a few areas where Tagovailoa needs to improve his game this coming season.
1. Downfield passing
There is no doubt that Tagovailoa is one of the most accurate passers in the NFL, as he completed 67.8 percent of his passes in the 2021 season and was fifth in the NFL in on-target percentage at 80.1 percent.
Despite that, Tagovailoa has not been able to push the ball downfield in his young career, and that is going to be an issue with speedsters like Hill and Waddle on the roster.
Hill has made a living of being one of the best deep threats in the NFL, so it is crucial that Tagovailoa be accurate and effective when throwing the ball downfield in 2022.
Last season, Tagovailoa averaged just 5.5 air yards per completion, which is a measure of how many yards past the line of scrimmage a pass traveled before being completed. He ranked 24th in the NFL in that statistic.
Tagovailoa also ranked 29th in the NFL in intended air yards, showing that he doesn’t like to stretch the field often. New Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel will have to find a steady balance between playing to his quarterback’s strengths while also keeping defenses on their toes this coming season.
2. Ball security
Tagovailoa didn’t blow up in the turnover department in 2021, but he also wasn’t perfect.
The University of Alabama product threw 10 interceptions in 13 games (12 starts), and he fumbled the ball nine times after fumbling just once in his rookie season.
— Pro Football Culture (@proftblculture) December 28, 2021
The improvements the Dolphins made to the offensive line should help him avoid some of those issues, but Tagovailoa simply has to take better care of the ball since he isn’t lighting up the stat sheet with his passing numbers.
If the Dolphins want to make the playoffs, they can’t afford for their quarterback to make game-changing mistakes. Tagovailoa averaged less than one interception per game in 2021, but there certainly is room to grow in that area, especially now that he has more weapons around him.
3. Reliance on RPOs
It’s no secret that Tagovailoa thrives in run-pass options, but the Dolphins need to find other ways for him to be successful in 2022.
Last season, Tagovailoa led the NFL in passing yards (847) on RPO plays despite the fact that he only played in 13 games.
On one hand, it is a positive that Tagovailoa is so successful in that style of offense. However, the Dolphins cannot have a one-dimensional offense if they truly want to be a playoff team.
Tagovailoa threw for 2,653 yards last season, which means 31.9 percent of his passing yards came on RPO plays.
To compare that, we can look at Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who finished third in the league in passing yards on RPO plays with 762. In total, he threw for 4,407 yards, meaning just 17.3 percent of his passing yards came from RPO plays.
Bringing in Hill and Wilson should help the Dolphins expand their playbook, and Tagovailoa should be able to open up the field more with them on the roster.