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Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel has tools to change Tua's reputation

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To Henry McKenna
FOX Sports AFC East Lighter

most miami dolphins‘Week 1 win, Tua Tagovailoa scraped in new england patriot Almost patient defense.

The Dolphins did not trade Tyreek Hill to attack the field horizontally. They want to be more vertical, if not something Tagovailoa has done mass in his career.

On the first play off the Dolphins’ offense, Tagovailoa defended a high snap and skipped the ball to Tyreek Hill on the streak. He was wide open and Tua’s pass was about 10 yards short.

Same old tua, right?

Not so soon!

In 2021, Tagovailoa threw 2.2 deep passes per game. This equates to his 7.5% of his pass attempts. He was very efficient, completing 48% of his passes for 526 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions, perhaps because he didn’t use his ball much. His completion percentage on the ball deep was the third highest last year, behind Cardinals’ Kyler his Murray and Chargers’ Justin Herbert.

On Sunday, Tagovailoa put a spin on the deep ball. He threw five deep passes, doubling his average last year.He completed his shots 49 yards deep his two times (40%). Because he is left-handed, historically when taking his shots deep he preferred his outside left third of the field. And, not surprisingly, he completed both deep his passes in Week 1.

Hill’s average target depth was 9.5 yards, down from his average with the Chiefs in 2021 (10.6 yards). But the Patriots’ defense isn’t easy to exploit in a downfield offense. A cornerback that tried to slow down Jaylen Waddle, which helped make up for an above-average but not-elite New England option. Both are explosive.

“If you can play fast and hard and have diverse root trees, that’s a problem. [for opposing defenses] Being able to expand the field in the same amount of time than other teams puts stress on defense,” McDaniel said.

But it’s not easy. Football is played 11 vs 11. It’s not 7 vs 7 or 3 vs 3.

“That stress is worthless unless we all work together to make sure there is time to throw the ball, to make sure we have the right progression, to make sure the coach calls the right plays and puts the players in a position to succeed.” said McDaniel. .

So you can’t just plant fast players on the offense and expect the offense to be faster. Of course, it’s a team effort starting with the quarterback.

There is reason to believe that we are witnessing a change in Tagovailoa. Yes, small sample size. But that’s the trajectory McDaniel definitely wants for his quarterback.With the help of his manager, Chris Grier, McDaniel has all the tools to make his Tagaviailoa a success. I put it in

But maybe the dirty secret about Tagovailoa’s evolution is that dolphins don’t have to evolve all that much to produce big plays.

perfect example? In the second quarter he was 4th and he was 7th, and Tagovailoa and his Co. were in perfect sync. He struck Jalen Waddle in stride for the game-changing touchdown. The ball scrimmaged and he hit Waddle just 12 yards out of the line, but the play lasted him 42 yards thanks to the Patriots missing two tackles.

On that play, Tagovailoa didn’t need to throw the ball downfield to produce a big play. It was no fluke. There’s no question the Dolphins can replicate opportunities like Waddle’s touchdown for him and Hill. Tagovailoa can throw the ball at moderate depth, and when his accuracy is right (as he tends to), he can flip up speedy receivers and make big plays.

“We talk about it all the time. If you want to be good, you make catches. Great guys get drunk from the YAC,” Hill said in the locker room after Sunday’s game.

Tagovailoa never evolves into Patrick Mahomes. And there’s good reason to believe Tagovailoa may not even grow up to be Derek Carr or Matt Ryan. The ball does not fly out of Tagovailoa’s hand. His throws tend to be floppy. There were a few things he could do to fix the play speed issue, which he admitted.

“I think it was time to play,” Tagovailoa said. “On some plays my footwork was a little bit faster, and on some plays I was a little slower and had to pick up speed. That’s what I would say about it. It’s just the timing of the play.

But no matter how quick he handles, his arm strength slows him down on offense. It was wise to consider (It was unwise to tamper and track down Brady, but that’s a whole other matter). Miami may keep their heads spinning for a good quarterback in their upcoming draft class. They have an offense that gives him the absolute best chance to succeed.

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After averaging 2.8 yards per carry in Week 1, McDaniel plans around a strong run game, a work in progress. The Dolphins coach is building around a receiver who can fly in his game passing and his back running. That means Tagovailoa can use his skills as a distributor while remaining efficient and smart with his shots deep. And the 2022 offense will be significantly upgraded from 2021.

Tagovailoa is starting to do what McDaniel wants, and Dolphins coaches are starting to use the quarterback in ways that change his perception.

What if that happened?

If Tagovailoa succeeds in 2022, whether the Dolphins stay loyal to him or their system can set up another quarterback with more specialized physics tools for a higher level of success. It is fascinating to see if you think

Henry McKenna covers FOX Sports’ AFC East. He previously covered the Patriots for USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Boston Globe Media. Follow him on Twitter. @Mcken Analysis.

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