Tua Tagovailoa’s six TD game gathers Dolphins from a 21-point deficit

Via Henry McKenna
FOX Sports AFC East Writer

The Tireek Hill trade is worth it. Call that statement premature, if you will – but Hill changed his complexion Miami Dolphins offense.

Hill has completely changed the midfield Tagovailoa.

That was on full display Sunday when Hill and Tagovailoa led the Dolphins to a 42-38 victory, erasing a 21-point deficit in Baltimore in a wild Week 2 love affair. Even without many barrages of attacks, the Miami attack came after Tagovailoa, Hill and Jaylen Waddle.

The Dolphins are leading 2-0 and topping the AFC East. They will be alone up there if Buffalo Bills lose Tennessee Titans on the second night.

For those watching after the second half – and some who may have given up as everyone seemed too quick to get rid of Tagovailoa – Tua offered the following stats in the second half: 24 for 30, 319 yards , five passes touch the ball and do not intercept. And he finished the game with 72% of his passes for 469 yards, six TDs and two interceptions.

Hill had 11 catches for 190 yards and two touches, while Waddle had 11 catches for 171 yards and two touches.

It’s only the second week of the season. But the Dolphins looked dangerous – the most menacing they had ever seen during Tagovailoa’s tenure. Not only did he methodically beat the Patriots in Week 1, but he also beat Raven match after game in Week 2.

And while we’ve often seen Tua play it conservatively (as we did in Week 1), we didn’t see this aggressive version show up in Week 2. It was the first point in his career. Tagovailoa when I had to wonder if maybe – maybe – he could one day be more of a system midfielder.

It gives Tua Hill and Waddle, a pair of special receivers.

And that gets him coach Mike McDaniel, the most affordable and most popular hire of the season – and all that hype now seems to make sense. Certainly, McDaniel was delighted with Tagovailoa’s performance.

“Now maybe Tua will finally listen to me,” McDaniel chuckles after the game.

What does he mean?

“It’s great to criticize yourself. That’s good. He has high standards for himself. But right after the first game, I just wanted to see him enjoy playing,” McDaniel said. “I couldn’t be happier for him and his teammates. I know that his teammates have learned a lot about him … and I think he has learned something. about myself.”

One of the keys McDaniel teaches Tua is to move on from his mistakes. After all, Tagovailoa’s flaws – a pair of interceptors – resulted in the team being in deficit. But McDaniel has been touting “how can Tagovailoa connect” since they started working together, and this performance is the latest example.

Why? Because after the second interception, Tagovailoa realized he was playing pressing the ball and making bad decisions. So he stopped. He started looking for the open stethoscope. And, oh my god, is his receiver open yet.

“For me, now I want some big plays and big plays,” Tagovailoa said of forcing his intercepted plays. “And so [in] In the second half, we got on the pitch and played the way we wanted. “

The second touchdown is a testament to how quickly Hill ordered this offense and pressed the button with Tagovailoa. After both Tagovailoa and Hill realized Raven was on Cover-0, the receiver said he was standing on the script line with a smile on his face.

“I [was] Hill said.

Before catching the ball, Hill called the ball a “yee-yee.” And Tagvailoa’s answer came quickly: a shot for touchdown at 60 yards.

“That’s the kind of chemistry that he and I have built this season – being able to watch Cover-0 together, because I see it, he sees it, the whole stadium really. everyone saw it,” Hill said.

You’d think Raven would be more careful in covering Hill, especially after watching him beat them 48 yards earlier in the round. But they couldn’t calculate recipients for most of the fourth quarter. His first score came with 8 minutes remaining in the 3rd and 10th rounds. No turning back Marcus Peters It’s not safe either Kyle Hamilton can keep speed. Hill had a crazy distance as he was easily caught on his way into the final zone.

Haters will say Tagovailoa, notorious for its lack of arm strength, has spoiled it. Realists would say it was a 48-yard touchdown, a game they looked so easy on. The only thing stopping Hill and Tagovailoa’s chemistry was the cramp of the stethoscope.

“I don’t know if I’m YAC or IV drunk, but I’m feeling funny right now,” Hill said with a laugh after the game.

Dolphins have every reason to feel comfortable. They are undefeated.

But they’re not perfect. The rush attack is still a work in progress. The passing game is still setting up the run, which is the opposite of McDaniel’s offense setup. Sure, he doesn’t care too much, because of how well the attack is playing.

But when Miami looks at where it can improve, it finds that it averages 3.4 yards per take until Chase Edmonds rushed for a 28-yard take on the team’s final take, which only covered such a distance because absolutely no one saw it coming. The Dolphins were so confident in the pass that they had plenty of space to run. But they can’t hope for a five-person box. They will have to block better for Edmonds and Raheem Mostert.

The Dolphins will probably solve that problem as they work more freely in McDaniel’s outer zone blocking scheme. In the meantime, they have something to celebrate: a career match from their midfield. He was asked how big this was for him.

“For me, every match is a big game,” Tagovailoa said.

Well, that’s all well and good. But everyone else knows it. Maybe Tua too. His performance has shown an amazing level of development. And McDaniel is certainly hoping his full-back can maintain that.

Henry McKenna covers the AFC East for FOX Sports. Prior to that, he spent seven years covering the Patriots for USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Boston Globe Media. Follow him on Twitter at @McKennAnalysis.

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