Former NFL players engage in back-and-forth discussion about Tua Tagovailoa’s game vs. Ravens

Tua Tagovailoa

Last Sunday’s outstanding performance by Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa continues to drive discussions and debate about his ability.

One of those debates took place on ESPN’s “Get Up” program, where former NFL players Domonique Foxworth and Chris Canty offered different takes on Tagovailoa.

Canty offered the opinion that Tagovailoa’s ability to throw for 469 yards and six touchdowns was more so because of mistakes by the Baltimore Ravens than his talent.

“I’m not [sold],” Canty said. “Tua did a great job of not blowing the layups. What I mean by that is being able to hit open receivers with busted coverage. You can go back and look at the tape. [One touchdown] to Jaylen Waddle was high and behind him in the red zone.

“The other throws to Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle were coverage busts by Marcus Williams and Marcus Peters looking in the backfield.”

Foxworth then countered that analysis by noting that Tagovailoa was forced to make adjustments because of the situation and cited the clutch nature of those efforts.

“You can’t leave a game when a man throws for 469 yards and six touchdowns and try to criticize him,” Foxworth said. “That pass to Waddle had to be high. There was a linebacker right there. That pass to Mike Gesicki, those are the things that make a difference. I am with you when there is a breakdown in coverage and hit a wide-open person, we don’t have to give you a bunch of credit.

“But when they needed that game-winning touchdown, they doubled Tyreek Hill, he threw it high and behind Waddle to keep him away from the safety, threw it high to get it over the linebacker. The pass had to be there. The touchdown to Gesicki seemed too high, but he knew Gesicki could get there. That’s the accuracy stuff I think makes Tua special. He can miss five throws a game, but if he hits one or two at the right time to those guys, it might be six.”

A look at the Gesicki touchdown indicates the challenges that Tagovailoa faced.

Canty and Foxworth are former NFL defenders who are likely looking at this from different perspectives, given that Canty played on the defensive line while Foxworth was a defensive back.

The former defensive lineman played 11 seasons with three different NFL teams from 2005 to 2015. Meanwhile, Foxworth also played for three different teams, though only from 2005 to 2011.

Of course, the opinions of two former players who are paid to comment on different NFL topics is something that’s not likely to register with either Tagovailoa or Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel.

Tagovailoa has been dealing with critics and doubters since he was drafted by the Dolphins with the fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. A portion of those doubts was connected to his ability to come back from major hip surgery.

His numbers during his first two seasons didn’t match those of Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, who was taken after him. That led some critics to charge that the Dolphins had picked the wrong signal-caller.

Trade rumors have also followed Tagovailoa for a good portion of his Dolphins tenure. Sunday’s effort against the Ravens surpassed his previous high-water single-game marks and marked his second straight solid performance.

Prior to the game against the Ravens, the most yardage Tagovailoa had thrown for in a contest was 361 in a blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills to end his rookie season. His previous high for touchdown passes was four, which came last year in a home loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

Tagovailoa will have a stiff challenge before him on Sunday when he faces the Buffalo Bills. If he’s able to deliver another stellar effort, the number of his critics will likely be reduced.