Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa currently ranks among some of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks when it comes to making plays during obvious passing situations.
Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen are arguably at the top when it comes to the best current signal-callers in the league. Tagovailoa’s name being mentioned in the same category offers a window into how much improvement the third-year quarterback has shown this season.
One of the reasons why Tagovailoa’s performance has seen an uptick is partly due to the presence of two outstanding receivers. Jaylen Waddle is in just his second NFL season, while Tyreek Hill was added in a blockbuster deal in the offseason.
Hill leads the team with 57 catches for 773 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Waddle has 34 grabs for 621 yards and three scores.
Yet, Tagovailoa’s growth has been seen in other ways, most notably in the thrilling comeback against the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 18. In that contest, Tagovailoa threw four of his six touchdowns in the fourth quarter during a furious comeback that resulted in a 42-38 win.
That sort of clutch performance is what the Dolphins have been expecting since the team selected him as the No. 5 overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Prior to this season, Tagovailoa had endured shots from critics who criticized the Dolphins for choosing him instead of Justin Herbert.
Compared to Tagovailoa, Herbert had better numbers during his first two seasons. Though he threw 38 touchdown passes last season, he has only 12 after seven contests this year.
Of course, keeping Tagovailoa healthy is paramount to any postseason hopes for the Dolphins. This season, Tagovailoa became the focal point of controversy related to how the team handled him after he went down with a possible head injury.
He first suffered what some believed was a head injury in a win over the Buffalo Bills in Week 3. However, he returned to the game and led the team to victory.
The NFLPA says it will "pursue every legal option" as it investigates whether Tua Tagovailoa should have played on Thursday night pic.twitter.com/eonATn5fGJ
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 30, 2022
In the following contest against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 29, Tagovailoa was carted off the field with a concussion. He missed the rest of that contest and the next two games, all of them resulting in losses for the Dolphins.
Tagovailoa returned last Sunday night and ended up throwing for 261 yards and one touchdown in a 16-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. That one scoring toss came on the Dolphins’ opening drive of the game.
The 4-3 Dolphins are on the road against the Detroit Lions on Sunday in the first of two consecutive away games against NFC opponents. Miami is currently in third place in the AFC East behind the Buffalo Bills and the surprising New York Jets.
Getting to the postseason will again be a challenge for the Dolphins this season. However, if Tagovailoa continues to situate himself among elite quarterbacks, that path figures to become easier.