Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, one of the most scrutinized players in the NFL, made his playing debut in 2022 on Saturday night, against the Raiders. His performance through the two series he received held up well under scrutiny from his head coach.
“I was really happy with Tua because he has been having such a good camp, just in his development and ownership of the offense,” coach Mike McDaniel told reporters after the game. “I was very hopeful that he would be the same guy on game day. It was my first opportunity with him, and he executed really everything that we asked him to do. His ownership of the offense, his command of the players was real good. He distributed the ball well. There were a couple of times that he got to three in his progression, and he adjusted with the defense. . . . So I was happy with his performance, and it was something to build upon moving forward that the team really was pumped to see.”
Tua completed six of eight passes for 58 yards, on 13 snaps. He didn’t have players like Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, or Raheem Mostert at his disposal.
McDaniel also was asked about video from the local CBS broadcast that showed Tua on the field hours before kickoff, working through a play sheet and going through his pre- and post-snap routine.
“Man, that says everything,” McDaniel said. “That’s why his teammates are confident in him. That’s why I’m confident in him, and that’s why his coaching staff is because that is something that he has done on his own with guidance from his quarterback coach, Coach [Darrell] Bevell. You can feel that every day that he is — Coach Bevell has explained to him all sorts of stories of the players he has worked with. Coming in here this year that wasn’t something that I had heard Tua — that wasn’t really his M.O., just to go ahead and go outside the framework of whatever the schedule is and really invest all-in on your craft. He is doing that every single day, and it really shows in his play. That doesn’t surprise me. I hadn’t heard that, but he has really been doing that every single day at the beginning of the day before he gets the script, and that’s why he is owning the offense and leading us well so that we’ll be in a good position to be what his teammates really need him to be Week One.”
That’s perhaps the most significant thing said about Tua at any point this year. It shows where he was, and where he now is.
Coming in here this year that wasn’t something that I had heard Tua — that wasn’t really his M.O., just to go ahead and go outside the framework of whatever the schedule is and really invest all-in on your craft.
It demonstrates growth and maturity when it comes to embracing the full responsibilities of his job and maximizing his talents. And it increases the likelihood that things will go well enough for Tua in Year Three to give him a fourth year in Miami, and more.
It also shows that, for Tua to truly make it in the NFL, changes needed to be made. Those changes have been made. And that could make it less likely that the Dolphins will become infatuated with the next Deshaun Watson or Tom Brady as a potential replacement for Tua. Maybe Miami will be rewarded for its patience by having Tua become the franchise quarterback the franchise has been so desperate to land.