Maybe all that tanking for Tua talk from a few years ago was actually spot on.
Tagovailoa is an actual MVP candidate — a real one, not some media-trumped-up candidate. When the Dolphins fans were chanting “MVP” late in Miami’s victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, it wasn’t out of line of the fans just pumping up their guy. It’s real.
Look at the numbers. The Dolphins are 7-3, sit atop the AFC East and would be the second seed in the AFC if the playoffs started today. They have gotten there behind a potent passing attack that makes Sundays look like seven-on-seven drills for their offense, with guys seemingly always open and Tagovailoa usually on time and accurate with his throws.
To say Tagovailoa has improved doesn’t do justice to what he’s become as a player and passer.
Let me say the obvious again: I was wrong about him. Big time. I’ve been wrong about quarterbacks in the past, but this one appears to be a wild miss. Credit goes to Tagovailoa for shunning all of us who doubted him and seemingly used it to fuel his ascent to being a top quarterback in the league. He admitted he did as much in past interviews.
There were times that Tagovailoa made some comments that led you to believe he was annoyed by the doubters. Nothing malicious, just a chip that seemed to drive him. It worked, which is why he’s in the MVP conversation.
Look at his numbers. He leads the NFL in passer rating at 118.4, is second to Seattle’s Geno Smith in completion percentage at 71.0, leads all quarterbacks in yards per attempt at 9.1 and has 18 touchdown passes against three picks.
The Dolphins are 7-1 in games he’s started, with the only loss coming in the game he was knocked out of with a concussion. That has them up to No. 4 in my Power Rankings this week as they head to their bye.
Third down and in the red zone are where quarterbacks earn their money in the NFL. Tagovailoa leads the NFL in passer rating on third down by a wide margin with an amazing 149.8 rating, which is close to being perfect. He has nine touchdowns and no picks on third down.
In the red zone, he has 14 touchdown passes and no picks. He also has a completion percentage of 67.7 in the red area, which is among the best in the league, and has a rating of 118.8, which is tops among the current starters in the league.
There is no doubt that Tagovailoa’s play has received a big boost from the addition of the speedy receiver Tyreek Hill, the growth of second-year receiver Jaylen Waddle and the brilliant offensive mind of coach Mike McDaniel. But Tagovailoa deserves his share of the credit as well. He has gone from a player the team considered replacing several times with several players to an MVP candidate.
That is one heck of a turnaround, one that has the Dolphins as a potential Super Bowl team and one that surely has Tua looking at all those receipts he kept from the doubters.
|They have taken over the top spot in the AFC, which they might not give away. They have adjusted well to not having Tyreek Hill on offense and the defense is getting better by the week.||1||7-2-0|
|If they don’t fix the run defense, they will have more losses the rest of the way. You can’t play defense that way and win in the playoffs.||1||8-1-0|
|It’s time to believe in this team. They might not always be pretty, but they get the job done. They face a tough game this week with Dallas.||—||8-1-0|
|They are in first place in the AFC East and continue to be an offensive show. Tua Tagovailoa is in the MVP conversation.||2||7-3-0|
|They’ve lost two straight games and now have fallen into the third spot in their division. Josh Allen has to quit throwing picks.||1||6-3-0|
|They come off their bye in first place in the division with a soft schedule coming up. It’s their time to surge.||1||6-3-0|
|They are 6-3 and in command of their division as they head to Green Bay to play the Packers. They are a tough team that can fight through a lot of injuries to win games.||1||6-3-0|
|Losing on the road to the Packers is a bad loss. Dak Prescott has to be better than he played for stretches in that game and the defense let them down by blowing a 14-point lead.||3||6-3-0|
|Watch out for this team. When healthy, they might end up being the best in the NFC. They are getting it right.||1||5-4-0|
|They come off their bye with a division road game at Pittsburgh. The offense was really clicking before the bye, which is why they can make a strong playoff push down the stretch.||1||5-4-0|
|Saquon Barkley is carrying this team right now as they keep looking like a playoff team. Brian Daboll has done a great job.||1||7-2-0|
|They are 6-4 after losing to the Bucs. But they did show something in making it interesting in the fourth quarter.||3||6-4-0|
|They come off their bye with a huge division game against the Jets, a team they beat three weeks ago. The division is now wide open, so it’s a big game.||—||5-4-0|
|They have clearly overachieved as they sit in second place in the AFC East. But now they face another prove-it game against the Pats on the road.||—||6-3-0|
|They lost a tough one to the 49ers and now face a big division home game against the Chiefs. To have any chance to win the AFC West, they have to win this week.||—||5-4-0|
|By winning in Germany against Seattle, they have taken command of the NFC South. That could be the game to get them going.||1||5-5-0|
|At 5-5, they are alive in the playoff chase. That was an impressive road victory Monday night against the Eagles.||1||5-5-0|
|They showed against the Cowboys that they aren’t done yet. The offense showed some life, which is a pleasant change as they ready to play Tennessee on Thursday night.||10||4-6-0|
|They have a favorable schedule the rest of the way, starting with a home game this week against the Bears. They are not done in the division, which is amazing.||3||4-6-0|
|Colt McCoy did some really good things to lead the Cardinals over the Rams. Quarterback controversy? Kidding. I think.||3||4-6-0|
|Jeff Saturday is 1-0. So much for all the laughing you did when he was named interim coach. The smartest thing he did was bring back Matt Ryan as a starter.||3||4-5-1|
|Getting T.J. Watt back really helped the defense get back on track. They impressed in beating the Saints this week with that defense.||3||3-6-0|
|The defense is horrible. That makes Deshaun Watson’s return meaningless. They are done.||4||3-6-0|
|They are one of the flops of the season. They looked like a playoff team in August and now they are in survival mode.||4||3-7-0|
|The Rams have gone from champions to 3-6. That is unreal. And it doesn’t look like it’s going to improve the rest of the way.||4||3-6-0|
|Dan Campbell finally won a road game in the division by beating the Bears. They will be a tough out the rest of the way.||1||3-6-0|
|So much for the idea that the bye week would help the offense. That unit is awful right now.||5||3-6-0|
|This season is done. It’s about 2023 now as they head to their bye. They have lost some tough games this season, but losing to the Chiefs wasn’t one of them.||2||3-7-0|
|At 2-7, they are done. It’s time to start to question the hiring of Josh McDaniels. It’s been a failure so far.||—||2-7-0|
|Justin Fields has run for a ton of yards the past two weeks, but they can’t win the games. That’s a waste, but it brings hope.||—||3-7-0|
|Aside from one bad game, Steve Wilks has this team playing good football. That’s progress.||—||3-7-0|
|They aren’t getting blown out, which is the good news. The bad is they aren’t winning games. But this season is done. It’s about 2023 and building with all the draft picks they have.||—||1-7-1|