Tua Tagovailoa lauds Justin Herbert, brushes off comparisons ahead of Dolphins-Chargers matchup

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert will forever be tied together after they were back-to-back selections in the 2020 NFL Draft, but the Miami Dolphins star said he and his Los Angeles Chargers counterpart are not really linked in their styles as quarterbacks.

“Justin is a totally different player than me,” Tagovailoa said at the 11:50 mark. “Justin can throw the deep ball as far as anyone in this league. There’s things that Justin does that I look at and like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ Sometimes you can’t help but fan over those plays.

“We’re just different in our styles and who we are as football players, got tremendous amount of respect for him. It’s him going against our defense and our offense going against their defense.”

Tagovailoa was speaking in advance of the Dolphins’ season opener against the Chargers on Sunday, the third NFL matchup between the two former top draft picks.

The Dolphins selected Tagovailoa with the No. 5 pick in the 2020 draft, which was immediately followed by the Chargers selecting Herbert at No. 6.

They then met in Week 10 of that 2020 season, with Tagovailoa and the Dolphins coming out with a 29-21 victory over Herbert and the Chargers. Neither threw for more than 200 passing yards but had two touchdown passes each.

The young quarterbacks met again in Week 14 of last season, with the Chargers prevailing 23-17 behind Herbert’s 367 passing yards on a career-high 39 completions.

Tagovailoa has a 21-13 record while Herbert is only 25-24, but the Chargers signal-caller has almost every other career statistical advantage, with significantly more passing yards and touchdown passes, obviously in more games played.

Herbert also recently got a contract extension this offseason, a five-year deal reportedly worth $262.5 million, the largest NFL contract ever for a quarterback in terms of average annual value ($52.5 million). Tagovailoa also is eligible for an extension based on his time in the league, but he and Dolphins have not yet moved toward completing one.

The University of Alabama product has said he looks forward to proving he deserves a similar deal and can go a long way toward doing so by helping the Dolphins reach the lofty expectations that surround them heading into the season.

Miami is expected to be a strong contender for the AFC East title and to make the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since the early 2000s. The Dolphins also are thought to have a chance to get to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1984 season.

The Chargers hold similar aspirations as well, and the two opposing quarterbacks will be key players in getting their respective teams off to good starts in the 2023 NFL season.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NFL for almost three decades. He has been an avid follower of the AFC East since the days of Bob Griese and is looking forward to an exciting new era in the division.