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Tua Tagovailoa’s successful season had little to do with yards after the catch

Miami’s receivers attacked open space down the field.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Chargers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins finished the season 8-4 and scored 28 points six times when Tua Tagovailoa finished a game behind center. The third-year quarterback set career highs in yards (3,548), touchdowns (25), and passer rating (105.5) while leading the league with an average of 8.9 yards per pass attempt.

Tagovailoa picked defenses apart in the middle of the field and second-year receiver Jaylen Waddle led the league with an average of 18.1 yards per reception. Miami’s offense was explosive — Tyreek Hill was second in receptions (119) and yards (1,710) — but not due to yards after the catch.

In the regular season, 505 of Jaylen Waddle’s 1,356 receiving yards came after the catch. Hill added another 497 yards in YAC.

NFLreadr, a database dedicated to the National Football League, tracked how often quarterbacks benefited from yards after the catch. Only 36 percent of Tagovailoa’s passing yards came after the catch — the lowest mark among quarterbacks with at least 250 completions in 2022. Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen was second to last with 37 percent of his passing yards coming after the catch.

Patrick Mahomes, who just won the Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs, saw 54 percent of his yards come after the catch — the league’s highest mark. Kyle Murray of the Arizona Cardinals was second with 53 percent of his yards.

Miami’s offense gravitates around two speedy receivers that are devastating in the open field — but Hill and Waddle attacked space in the secondary before catching the ball when Tagovailoa called the shots.