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Tua Tracker: Tagovailoa leads Dolphins to 20-7 win over Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots

Tua joins John Elway as the only quarterback in NFL history to begin his career 4-0 vs. Bill Belichick

NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins defeated the New England Patriots 20-7 on Sunday, and of course, the talk of the town reverted back to QB1, Tua Tagovailoa.

Now, I’ll admit, with an empty beer can or two lying on the floor, I was uncertain how Miami’s starting quarterback played. On paper, it was his best game vs. the New England Patriots. But numbers only tell part of the story — much like the TV broadcast only shows so much of the game.

Without the All-22, I can’t pretend to know which receivers were clamped down or what routes were being run, by who, and where. But if you’re looking to get 69% of the story, look no further than this article and the video that follows.

However, first, let’s talk about the numbers.

In Sunday’s win — the fourth of his career versus Bill Belichick and the Pats — Tua completed 23/33 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown. That equates to a 104.4 passer rating, ninth best in the NFL through Sunday’s week one matchups.

He was efficient and didn’t turn the ball over. But as you can see, he didn’t take any deep chances because he was either:

A: Gun Shy

B: The Patriots did a good job of containing Miami’s deep threats.

C: Miami’s offensive line struggled to protect.

D: All of the above.

The answer is probably D, but we won’t know for sure without firing up the film.

What we learned from Tua Tagovailoa’s Week One Performance vs. New England — Every Dropback (I think) from QB1’s 20-7 win over the Patriots.

After going back and watching the tape, I must admit this offense is beautiful to see. Poetry in motion, you might say. The pre-snap motion, fake jet sweeps, and misdirection have me excited for what’s to come. And if you’ve followed me since Tua’s rookie season, McDaniel is finally utilizing a ton of playaction and bootlegs to get Tagovailoa on the move, something I’ve clamored for in year’s past.

Sure, Miami’s run game could have done better. A lot better than the 65 yards rushing (2.8 yards per carry) on 23 attempts that we saw on Sunday. And the offensive line, lettuce pray that Terron Armstead will be okay, and things will get resolved on the right side of the line.

But I’m again getting sidetracked here.

On tape, I saw a player that looked like he was told to manage the game and not try to be a hero, especially after the team jumped out to an early 10-0 lead. And a quarterback who was — for the most part — highly accurate with the football.

We all wish he would’ve hit Alec Ingold in stride on the team’s first drive. And there was a time when he was under distress and should’ve had a costly interception. He even threw a “**** it, Tyreek Hill is down there somewhere” ball that Hill caught with one hand. Tua should probably be credited for a sack and a few pressures considering there were a few plays where he held onto the ball too long. But overall, he was quick with his decision-making and got the ball into his playmaker’s hands to allow them to pick up some YAC.

His chemistry with Tyreek Hill was evident from the very start. And with Hill’s speed and route-running, there were times when he was unguardable — or a cheat code as Tagovailoa called it. But arguably the biggest play of the game and one of the better throws from Tua — albeit a 15-yard slant route — was his touchdown pass to Waddle on 4th and 7. He put the ball right on the money, where only his receiver could get it. And with Jaylen Waddle’s speed, the rest was history.

And let’s not forget the few times he looked Chase Edmonds’ way. Several of those ‘check downs’ resulted in a critical first down that kept the drive and momentum alive. Again, it wasn’t perfect, but when you’re facing a Bill Belichick defense, it never is.

At first, I said Tagovailoa graded out at around a C+, but I think I was looking at it the wrong way. This was a B- performance and one that Tagovailoa and the Dolphins can build on moving forward.

Any other year a 20-7 win over New England would be a massive start to the NFL season. Let’s enjoy this before turning our focus to Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens.


What were your thoughts on Tua Tagovailoa’s week one performance vs. the New England Patriots? What did you like? What didn’t you like? Let us know in the comments section below!

This article was written by Josh Houtz. Follow me on Twitter @houtz