The Miami Dolphins have a team that, on paper, looks like a playoff team.
But this offseason, the Dolphins have added Tyreek Hill, one of the best wideouts and arguably the best deep ball threat, running backs Raheem Mostert and Sony Michel, three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Melvin Ingram and offensive lineman Terron Armstead.
They also hired a new head coach in Mike McDaniel, who had been the offensive coordinator last year for the San Francisco 49ers, a team that was minutes away from reaching the Super Bowl.
In football-crazy South Florida, the excitement is building for the Fins’ upcoming season.
After all, they haven’t made the playoffs since 2016, and they’ve been to the postseason only twice in the last 20 years.
But in the NFL, even the most talented teams will only go as far as their starting QB takes them, and there are still plenty of questions surrounding Dolphins QB1 Tua Tagovailoa.
He is heading into his third season, which is a huge one for pro quarterbacks.
Will he start to truly tap into his potential this year, or will he turn into something of a draft mistake?
Tagovailoa Hasn’t Quite Measured Up Yet
In the 2020 NFL Draft, Miami had the fifth overall pick, and it had the option of taking Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert as far as signal-callers were concerned.
The team opted for Tagovailoa, who became a monster at the University of Alabama.
During his sophomore season there, he threw for 3,966 yards and 43 touchdowns, while adding five more scores on the ground.
He led the Crimson Tide to the national championship game, where they got routed by Clemson University.
COUNTDOWN TO CFB
In 2017 Tua came off the bench to win the national championship on a 2nd & 26 TD pass in OT
In 2018, Tua won the Maxwell & Walter Camp awards, SEC OPOTY, consensus All-American, 1st team SEC
Tua had 7442 pass yds, 87 TD, 348 rush yds, 9 TD at Alabama pic.twitter.com/ESoEW8OqOl
— The Ox Cord Podcast (@TheOxCordPod) August 15, 2022
The next year, he was limited to nine games due to a sprained ankle, dislocated hip, broken nose, and concussion, although he still played brilliantly, posting 2,840 yards and 33 touchdown passes.
Once the season ended, Tagovailoa declared himself eligible for the draft.
He started just nine games as an NFL rookie, and his numbers were somewhat underwhelming: 1,814 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions.
Last season, he missed some time with a rib injury in September, but starting in Week 10, he heated up.
Tagovailoa had four straight games with a passer rating of at least 104, and he helped the Dolphins post a seven-game winning streak and win eight of their last nine contests.
But on the season, he only managed 2,653 yards and 16 touchdowns in 13 games.
Tua’s Stock May Be Rising
Interestingly, Tagovailoa has reportedly gotten lots of wagers from fans that he will win the league MVP award this year.
Which NFL teams & players have drawn the most money so far in August at @CaesarsSports?
1. Bills (6/1) at 13.5%
2. 49ers (16/1) at 8.8%
3. Raiders (30/1) at 8.2%
1. Trey Lance (40/1) at 17.4%
2. Derek Carr (30/1) at 11.6%
3. Tua Tagovailoa (75/1) at 9.0%
— Max Meyer (@TheMaxMeyer) August 15, 2022
“Tagovailoa’s NFL MVP odds were first displayed at 175/1, yet he’s since swung to his current standing of 75/1,” wrote Max Meyer of Caesars.com. “The lefty quarterback ranks 12th in tickets for MVP at 2.4%, and 13th in handle at 2.8%. He’s received two $1,000 bets to collect the hardware at 75/1 odds, one from a Nevada bettor and the other from an Indiana bettor.
“Over the past two weeks, Tagovailoa has been an especially popular MVP bet. The only players who have received more money in this market over that span are Trey Lance, Derek Carr, Josh Allen and Justin Herbert. Overall, Tagovailoa has drawn more MVP bets than Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Dak Prescott, Kyler Murray and Matt Stafford. He’s also been a sleeper pick to finish with the NFL’s most passing yards (40/1), as he’s 10th in tickets (2.5%) and 15th in handle (1.3%).”
He certainly has the weapons to have a strong year, as Waddle led all rookies in receptions last year and was eighth overall in that category, while Hill is a flat-out star.
A strong running game would also take some pressure off Tagovailoa, and McDaniel has helped the Niners forge one of the NFL’s best ground attacks over the past few years.
If Tagovailoa becomes a Pro Bowl QB, Miami should have a strong shot at the playoffs, and perhaps it could even win its first Super Bowl since the 1973 season not too long from now.