The debate about Tua Tagovailoa’s place among NFL signal callers was thrust into the national spotlight last week, with Pro Football Talk’s Chris Simms’ clownish comments about New England quarterback Jarrett Stidham being more talented than Tua. “(Stidham is) more talented than Tua,” Simms said on WEEI radio last week. “(Tua) is a creation of Alabama. You don’t think Jarrett Stidham, or like Justin Herbert would have set the world on fire if they got to play with four, first-round receivers and two, first-round tackles?”
Massive yikes, bro. And fortunately, I’m not the only one who thought so. Hall of Famer and Undisputed co-host Shannon Sharpe had a wholly different opinion of Miami’s top pick.
“The system that you see at Alabama….Tua created,” Sharpe said. “[They would] run the football and play defense. Now all of a sudden, they throw the football, and they don’t play defense.
“Tua is as good a prospect coming out. His abilities to throw the ball, his anticipatory skills, his accuracy, is second to none. Great touch. Great leadership. They’ve had great athletes like this before, but they didn’t throw the ball like this with Julio (Jones). They didn’t throw the ball like this with Amari Cooper. With a Calvin Ridley. They’ve had top-flight receivers.
“Tua created the system. They implemented the system that says we’ve got a guy that instead of running the ball 35, 40 times a game, we need to throw it 25, 35 times a game. That’s what he allowed them to do.
“There is no general manager in the NFL that would take Jarrett Stidham over Tua, even with Tua’s injury history. No offensive coordinator. No general manager. No head coach.”
Mic drop. And, statistically, he’s not wrong. If you look at, for example, Alabama’s 2015 national championship season, they averaged per game 20 completions on 29 attempts for 227 yards, with 200 yards on the ground on 43 carries. In Tua’s first season as a starter in 2018, they averaged 20 completions on 29 attempts for 324 yards with 198 yards rushing on 38 carries. Last year, they averaged 22/31 for 342 yards passing and 169 yards rushing on 33.5 attempts.
Sharpe is right. That is a serious skew from what Alabama had done in prior years. And Bama’s defense has been more mortal in recent years, creating some shootouts, but Alabama’s passing game has been as good as it ever has been in their program’s history. Simms is wrong; it hasn’t been about throwing a slant to Jerry Jeudy for an 80-yard touchdown. Tua’s touch on his deep balls has been jaw-dropping. I’m not a scout, but I have eyeballs that function.
Although Undisputed is often shock-jock television, it’s nice to see someone as accomplished and knowledgeable as Sharpe give that kind of support to Tua.