NFL News & Analysis

Premium Content Sign Up

Tua Tagovailoa has improved — but is it enough?

Aug 14, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) talks to his teammates during their game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Eileen T. Meslar-USA TODAY Sports

With most of the football world's attention spent gawking over the five 2021 first-round rookie quarterbacks making plays in NFL preseason action, Tua Tagovailoa has flown a bit under the radar.

Tua, although not a rookie, is playing in his first preseason as he looks to desperately improve upon last year's abysmal output. His 65.4 PFF grade was significantly worse than the 75.1 mark from early-season starter Ryan Fitzpatrick, who he took over for in Week 8. The Dolphins' passing attack dropped from .150 expected points added (EPA) per play with Fitzpatrick to .121 with Tua.

Click here for more PFF tools:

PFF Fantasy Draft Kit | PFF Betting Dashboard | PFF Fantasy Rankings
PFF Fantasy Projections
| NFL Premium Stats | Win Totals Tracker


Passing on the consistency that a veteran quarterback — even someone as high variance as Fitzpatrick —  can give an offense in exchange for the volatility of a young quarterback who didn’t prove he could handle throwing the ball in the NFL was a step into the unknown for Miami.

And after two preseason games, the Dolphins must like the progress Tua has made. But there are still red flags in his game that need to be ironed out.

The caveats:

  1. It’s preseason, and the data continues to show that it is meaningless to project almost any quarterback statistic from these exhibition games to the regular season.  
  2. Tua’s first game against the Chicago Bears looks weaker now that quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, of all people, tore them up in Week 2. Trubisky went 20-of-28 for 221 yards and a touchdown. 

With these two ideas in mind, let’s look at how Tua's preseason performance thus far.

The Good

Tagovailoa's accuracy has generally been spot on, which is probably the best sign for this upcoming year. He’s also become more aware in the pocket, and this third-and-10 throw against the Falcons shows that off.

The Falcons are showing a big pressure look here but eventually drop out of it. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, the pre-snap look still creates confusion between the right guard and the running back, which invites a free rusher.

The quarterback makes a nice play to evade the rush, and because he saw a man coverage look in the secondary, he expected his outside receiver to be breaking free inside. He was correct in that assumption, but the Falcons defensive lineman had dropped into that throwing window. Still, Tua resets for the second window and fires a completion to that same receiver.

Subscribe to PFF Edge to continue reading

Already have a subscription? Sign In

Know tomorrow, today. Western Southern Financial Group.
Sponsor

NFL Featured Tools

  • Power Rankings are PFF’s NFL power ratings based on weekly player grades in each facet of play. These power rankings are adjusted based on coach, quarterback and the market each season.

    Available with

    Edge
  • PFF predictions and real time spread, moneyline and over/under lines for each NFL game.

    Available with

    Elite
  • PFF's Player Props Tool reveals betting opportunities within player prop markets.

    Available with

    Elite
  • PFF's exclusive metrics provide matchup previews, position rankings, grades, and snap counts.

    Available with

    Edge
  • Our exclusive database, featuring the most in-depth collection of NFL player performance data.

    Available with

    Elite
Pro Subscriptions

Unlock NFL Player Grades, Fantasy & NFL Draft

$9.99 / mo
$39.99 / yr

Unlock Premium Stats, PFF Greenline & DFS

$34.99 / mo
$199.99 / yr