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Tua Tagovailoa, the NFL’s best downfield passer

Just how good was Tua last year?

Green Bay Packers v Miami Dolphins Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

On an individual level, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had an extremely successful year in 2022, no matter how you spin it.

But, critics continue to point to Tagovailoa’s supposed inability to push the ball downfield, pointing to Mike McDaniel’s system (as well as the likes of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle) as an explanation for his performances.

However, a deeper dive into the numbers show that this isn’t the case.

Credit - @SharpFootball.

As per Warren Sharp on Twitter, last season, Tagovailoa threw 64% of his passes 5+ yards downfield, which was the highest rate in the NFL (out of 29 QBs with over 300 attempts). This number, measured against his EPA/attempt (expected points added per attempt), blows the rest of the NFL out of water, putting him above the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, and Josh Allen.

In 2022, when he threw 5+ yards downfield, Tagovailoa ranked #1 in EPA/attempt, #1 in success rate, #1 in first-down rate, #1 in YPA (yards per attempt), and #1 in passer rating. Tagovailoa’s 0.59 EPA/attempt was also the best of any NFL quarterback since Drew Brees in 2019, and he also averaged 11.7 YPA when throwing at least 5 yards downfield, the 3rd-highest YPA out of every QB season since 2000. The only 2 QBs with a better season? Oh, just Drew Brees in 2006 (11.9 YPA), who finished #2 in MVP votes that year, and Aaron Rodgers in 2011 (11.8 YPA), the MVP that year.

The fact is, Tagovailoa pushed the ball downfield more often and more aggressively than any other quarterback in the NFL last season, and was also more successful in doing so. The numbers speak for themselves, and right now, it’s inarguable that the NFL’s best downfield passer is none other than Miami Dolphins quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa.

How impressed were you by Tua’s performances last year? Give us your thoughts in the comments below!