One of the several criticisms Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa faced in his rookie year was that he didn’t take enough downfield shots.
Tagovailoa finished the season 30th among 35 qualified passers at 6.3 yards per attempt. He was just behind Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and just ahead of Washington’s Alex Smith.
So as Tagovailoa enters his second season, reporters who have watched practice have reported noticing the QB uncorking more shots than he did as a rookie. Head coach Brian Flores was asked about it in his Wednesday press conference.
“I think it’s something he’s placed an emphasis on,” Flores said. “We’ve placed an emphasis on not pushing the ball downfield, but taking advantage of those opportunities if they’re there. But like always, we want to have good fundamentals, good techniques, good mechanics, go through his progression. And if it’s there and it’s open, or we can throw him open, then take a shot. We’re not going to make them if we don’t throw them. So I think he’s taking more shots downfield and hopefully, he’s gaining more confidence and can make some of those throws.
“But at the same time, not every throw is going to be a 50 yarder, or 60 yarder. So we’ve got to make good decisions. Check it down when we need to check it down, throw the intermediate route when we need to throw the intermediate route, you’ve got to throw it away and take the incompletion when you need to do that. And you just need reps. So we’re just trying to give him as many reps as possible — that’s the same with all the quarterbacks, Jacoby [Brissett], Reid [Sinnett], really all players at all positions. But specific to Tua and the downfield throws, that’s my take on it.”
Part of why Flores benched Tagovailoa for now-Washington quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in multiple games last season was because Miami needed to push the ball downfield in more situations. Fitzpatrick averaged 7.8 yards per attempt in the same offense last season.
Tagovailoa has weapons like Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller on the outside who can be those kinds of targets. Time will tell whether Tagovailoa can execute and hit those big plays once the regular season arrives.