Regardless of what happens to the Miami Dolphins for the rest of the season, their 2021 campaign has officially been a roller coaster ride.
The formula for success seemed to be pretty well defined in their Week 1 victory over the New England Patriots (a win that looks more impressive with each passing week).
Play good defense, force turnovers, and execute on offense seemed to be the ticket for a successful season, but it went off the rails in the ensuing two months.
As a result, the questions surrounding the viability of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa as a long-term solution for the franchise intensified.
They reached a fever pitch around the trade deadline, when a trade appeared imminent for Houston Texans star signal-caller Deshaun Watson.
However, the Dolphins decided to stand pat, and let Tagovailoa finish the season.
After four straight wins, that decision looks smart.
While his potential as a future star still remains up in the air, Tagovailoa has provided enough signs to indicate that he’s a competent NFL player.
Analyzing His First Full Season
When someone sits down to analyze Tagovailoa’s rookie season, the narrative tends to shift in a certain direction.
He had some effective games to be sure, but the overarching theme lands on the notion that the fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft needed to work with a net.
To be sure, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s number was called upon in some crucial spots, and he delivered in a big way in relief of Tagovailoa.
Despite draft status, expecting Tagovailoa, or any rookie, to be the main driver of team success was always a lot to ask.
Analyzing his first full season as a starter here in 2021 tends to leave more to be desired, from a general perception.
If Tagovailoa was as good as he should be, why did Miami lose seven straight games (even though he missed several contests due to injury)?
With all that being said, when looking at his entire body of work over the course of last year and this year, Tagovailoa has been pretty good.
He just notched his 16th career start against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, which used to be a full regular season worth of games prior to 2021.
Miami is 9-7 in his starts, which isn’t spectacular, but puts them squarely in the mix for a wild card spot in a full season.
He has completed 67 percent of his passes, and has a 21 touchdown to 11 interception ratio for his career, with 3,515 passing yards.
Tagovailoa isn’t a scrambler by any means, but he also has six rushing touchdowns to his name in his career.
He has compiled those numbers without the benefit of a steady running game, or consistently healthy playmakers flanked next to him.
It’s a reasonable sample size, and a reasonably acceptable output for someone considering the hand he’s been dealt.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) December 1, 2021
Tua’s Positive Attitude
Tagovailoa’s football journey has been a rocky one, even dating back to his collegiate days at the University of Alabama.
His durability has been a question mark for a few years, whether it has been the hip injury he suffered with the Crimson Tide, or nagging rib and finger ailments this season in Miami.
Despite the setbacks, his willingness to work and get back out on the field is commendable, and he checks the boxes of what a leader should look like at the quarterback position.
Considering his play since the trade deadline, after having been asked about his job security for multiple weeks, has also been impressive.
That narrative could’ve damaged a lot of young players, but Tagovailoa remained focused on his job, and honed in on what he could control.
Work 🚂 pic.twitter.com/lZwElQTIy1
— Tua. T 🇦🇸 (@Tua) February 20, 2021
His response to adversity has been about as ideal as Dolphins fans and team management could have hoped for.