5 October 2022
Chicago 12, Melborne City, USA
Sports

Tua Tagovailoa’s breakout game doesn’t equal future success

Tua
Photo: Getty Images

Trailing 35-14 heading into the fourth quarter, the Miami Dolphins scored 28 points in the final frame to cap off a remarkable comeback against the Baltimore Ravens. Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had six touchdown passes on the day, marking just his second career game with more than two passing touchdowns and his first game with more than four. Tagovailoa was under a lot of pressure to perform this season, and he seemingly silenced a lot of doubters on Sunday with his comeback against a stout Ravens defense.

I’m here to be a Negative Nancy though. I’m not saying that Tagovailoa’s performance on Sunday wasn’t great. It was. Some of the throws he made were *makes Italian hand gesture* chef’s kiss! But think of the players who have thrown for six-plus touchdowns in a game recently. Since 2010, the list includes guys like Patrick Mahomes, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees, but it also includes Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Flynn, Nick Foles, and Mitchell Trubisky.

So, there are three options it seems, either he falls to irrelevancy like those last three guys, becomes a Hall of Famer like the first five, or continues being a mediocre quarterback who never comes close to that career day ever again, like Ryan “Fitzmagic” Fitzpatrick. While it’d be easy to assume that the third option will happen, Tua’s game feels different than the likes of Flynn, Foles, and Trubisky. For one, Tagovailoa threw for 469 yards (second-most among the three quarterbacks listed) with most of that yardage coming in clutch time. If those six scores were more spread out, I’d be less inclined to have faith in Tua, but the fact that a lot of that yardage and most of those touchdowns came in crunch time shows a clutch factor we’ve never seen in Tua before. Will we see it again? Maybe not, but now he’s flashed that side of him to us and we can’t ignore it.

That being said, Trubisky’s six-TD performance holds a few similarities to Tagovailoa. This was Tua’s second game in Mike McDaniel’s system. Trubisky had his six-TD game just four games into Matt Nagy’s tenure in Chicago. However, where Trubisky was relying on guys like Tarik Cohen, Taylor Gabriel, and Trey Burton, Tagovailoa had arguably the best receiving corps in the NFL. Tua looked good, but how much of his success can be pinned on Tyreek Hill’s game-breaking speed, Jaylen Waddle’s elusiveness, or McDaniel’s system? I don’t know. Tua was able to land a lot of those deep shots to Hill in the bread basket, but Hill was also open. Is it more impressive to make those deep throws or for Hill to find a hole in a secondary that includes Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, and Marcus Williams?

All I’m saying is that while it’s fun to look at recent performances and judge somebody’s future off a career game, it’s probably best to temper expectations. After all, neither Trubisky nor Nagy lasted through four more seasons in the Windy City. I hope things are different in South Beach, but we can’t be sure just yet.

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