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How Tua Tagovailoa gained along with his thoughts in Miami’s comeback in opposition to Detroit


You’ve most likely heard rather a lot about Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa over the previous week or so. Not as a result of concussion he suffered earlier within the season, and the alterations to the NFL’s concussion protocols carried out after the damage, however moderately attributable to NFL analyst Emmanuel Acho. Final week, Acho made the case a number of occasions that Tagovailoa was a greater quarterback than Justin Herbert, who was chosen after him within the 2020 draft, touching off a firestorm of debate on social media that lasted properly into the weekend.

Acho’s feedback couldn’t have come at a greater time, as a result of Tagovailoa went out on Sunday and put collectively his finest sport of the season, finishing 29 of 36 passes for 382 yards and three touchdowns, with out an interception. His NFL passer score of 138.7 was the very best single-game mark of his total profession.

To place his efficiency within the win over the Detroit Lions in perspective, think about this graph from RBSDM.com:

Tagovailoa is nearly off the dimensions. His Anticipated Factors per Play (EPA/Play) of 0.701 led all quarterbacks this week, as did his Completion Proportion over Expectation (CPOE) of 23.1% Tagovailoa did this whereas averaging 11.4 Air Yards per Try, third-most amongst quarterbacks in Week 8.

Moreover, Tagovailoa did this whereas main the Dolphins again from a 14-point deficit. Twice.

What stands out relating to his efficiency is how properly Tagovailoa dealt with issues from a psychological perspective. Sure, everyone knows that he has lots of assist, from Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle on the skin to go coach Mike McDaniel utilizing schematic components to place him able to succeed. However watching Tagovailoa on Sunday you noticed a assured quarterback successful along with his thoughts, as a lot as he was along with his arm.

We are able to begin with this play from late within the first quarter, with the Dolphins trailing 14-0. Dealing with a third and 13 close to midfield, the Dolphins align in an empty formation, and see this look from the protection:

Given this pre-snap look, Tagovailoa is perhaps anticipating a Cowl 0 blitz name from the protection, with Detroit taking part in man protection on the receivers and bringing the home after him. Nevertheless, as we have now seen this 12 months defenses are getting higher and higher at disguising their intentions earlier than the play, so Tagovailoa nonetheless wants to substantiate this after the snap.

Miami runs this mirrored route mixture, with the slot receivers releasing vertically whereas the skin receivers run slant routes:

Detroit certainly blitzes, taking part in straight man protection within the secondary. Tagovailoa makes an aggressive resolution, concentrating on Hill on his vertical route out of the correct slot:

The play goes for an enormous achieve, giving the Dolphins a contemporary set of downs, and Miami would end the drive with a landing move from Tagovailoa to Waddle to chop the Lions’ lead in half. As many instantly identified, the move was underthrown, and if Tagovailoa places this out in entrance of Hill, it’s seemingly a walk-in landing. And there are the explanation why it was underthrown, beginning with Tagovailoa’s ft. Reasonably than stepping by this throw — maybe a tricky ask as a result of defender bearing down on him — Tagovailoa steps in the direction of the sideline along with his entrance foot, stopping him from getting extra on the throw.

This isn’t the primary time we have now seen this from Tagovailoa. He made an identical underthrow on a deep shot to Hill within the preseason, as damaged down by Corridor of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner right here:

Placing apart the mechanics and the method, what I really like about this play from Tagovailoa is the learn, and the choice. After the snap, Tagovailoa confirms the Cowl 0 blitz scheme from Detroit, and makes an aggressive, but acceptable, resolution to focus on Hill on the vertical route. He makes it rapidly within the down too, as you’ll be able to inform from the state of play when Tagovailoa lets this fly:

Hill nonetheless has about 5 yards of cushion to erase, however Tagovailoa trusts his receiver to win with velocity, and offers him an opportunity with this resolution. Sure, Tagovailoa’s tendency to step within the bucket on throws like this one is one thing I’d like to see him clear up, however I really like the learn and his aggressive resolution on this state of affairs.

Tagovailoa’s second quarter landing to Waddle presents one other instance of an ideal learn and fast throw from the third-year passer. The Dolphins face one other third down, this time a third and 6 on the Lions’ 29-yard line. They line up with Waddle as the within journeys receiver on the left, with Hill within the slot and Trent Sherfield to the skin:

It is a tough pre-snap image to kind out. Detroit exhibits Tagovailoa two deep safeties, and with the remainder of the protection gamers exhibiting him man method — hips parallel to the road of scrimmage, eyes on the receivers — Tagovailoa may anticipate Cowl 2 Man on this play.

However the presence of security Kerby Joseph over Waddle, “capping” the cornerback aligned throughout from the receiver, is an indication that maybe the Lions are going to blitz that cornerback, and ask Joseph to cowl Waddle in man protection.

What occurs as an alternative? The Lions try to bracket Hill off the road with Joseph, and because the play begins, that security drops right down to wall off Hill on the within, whereas cornerback Jeff Okudah covers him with outdoors leverage. Tagovailoa sees that, and is aware of that Waddle’s route, a slot fade, is the play:

It is a nice learn from Tagovailoa, as he adjusts to a distinct post-snap look than the one he seemingly anticipated, and punishes the protection. He is aware of that the opposite security, JuJu Hughes, has lots of floor to cowl to assist on Waddle’s slot fade, and rapidly snaps his eyes to Waddle and drops in an ideal throw for the landing.

In an identical vein is that this play from later within the second quarter, with the Dolphins dealing with one other third and 6. Once more, you see the Lions exhibiting stress earlier than the snap, with a pair of safeties deep:

Nevertheless, this time the Lions drop into zone protection. Watch as Tagovailoa reads the protection rotation and throws Waddle open, making an anticipation throw round linebacker Alex Anzalone, dropping into beneath zone protection:

Miami would end the drive with a discipline purpose, reducing Detroit’s result in 24-17 with simply over two minutes left within the first half.

Miami would lastly take the lead on the finish of the third quarter, on this completion from Tagovailoa to Mike Gesicki for an 11-yard landing:

I really like each the design of this play and the execution from Tagovailoa. The Dolphins have Sherfield as the only receiver on the correct facet of the sphere, and movement operating again Raheem Mostert to the left facet proper earlier than the play, giving them 4 receiving threats to that facet of the sphere with Sherfield alone on the correct. A kind of threats is Waddle, because the receiver aligns within the backfield together with the quarterback, and he’ll run a vertical route. Miami is hoping to get him matched up with a linebacker if the Lions are in man protection.

Tagovailoa’s eyes come to Sherfield proper on the snap, because the receiver runs a slant route. That attracts the eye of each Hughes, aligned beneath, and Joseph, the deeper security in the course of the sphere. Each defenders step in the direction of Sherfield’s slant route, making that throw a harder proposition for Tagovailoa. What does he do in response? He flips his eyes to the left facet of the sphere, and Gesicki’s out route. Tagovailoa’s look in the direction of Sherfield has created a window between the protection and the cornerback, and the quarterback exploits that by hitting Gesicki between these defenders for the go-ahead rating.

There’s nonetheless the difficulty of under-thrown deep balls, which as many have identified may be attributable to his footwork on these throws, however what actually stands out with Tagovailoa every week is how he’s enhancing along with his thoughts. He’s making fast reads and good selections with the soccer, even when the post-snap image doesn’t align along with his pre-snap expectations.

When you’re doing that as a quarterback, you might be doing all of your job, and doing it properly.

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