Welcome back Dolphins fans! Miami is 8-5 after what can only be described as an eventful game on Sunday. It had the ebb and flow a battle of two legitimate playoff contenders should have. Unfortunately, the Chiefs were the better team in the end, and with the Ravens’ win on MNF, Miami’s playoff chances took quite the dive. 

Don’t worry, it’s not all bad, though, because franchise quarterback Tua Tagovailoa showed he could hang with the best of them. He was without his top weapons for a good chunk of the game and played behind a psoriasis offensive line but still managed to lead an admirable comeback. 

I’m on the record saying Tua’s development is more important to me than winning this season. I know this position isn’t popular among Dolphins faithful, but it makes days like today much better. 

Let’s take our weekly dive into the film and see what Tua did well against the defending champs, as well as some things he’s still struggling with. 

This was early in the game, and at this point, I had a feeling it was going to be a good day for the rookie signal-caller. This is after one of the early Mahomes INTs, which gave Miami a pretty good field position. 

Miami ran the ball on first and second down, which is not only suboptimal from an analytics perspective, but it also gained them negative two yards. This put Tua in third and long against a blitz-happy defense. I fully expected to see Miami punt here after running a failed screen pass or something gimmicky like that. 

Instead, Chan Gailey actually let Tua drop back to try and pick up the first down. Kansas City comes out with two high safeties with what looks like man-coverage across the board. However, post-snap, the safeties rotate with the safety from the right side coming down to cover Mike Gesicki. 

Gesicki is running an out route right at the sticks, and because the safety is coming from the other side of the field, he’s immediately got leverage to win that route. Tua sees this and lets the ball go early, preventing the underneath defender from making a play on it. 

Tua made similar throws like this throughout the game. For a rookie to have this consistent anticipation is pretty rare in my experiences. It’s what made Tua worth the number five overall pick. 

Here is another example of a similar play. The Chiefs are in cover-3 on this play, and the Dolphins are running a flood concept to Tua’s left. There is a vertical, an intermediate, and a short route. This play is designed to put a defender in a bind to choose between the short and intermediate routes. 

The middle defender doesn’t gain enough depth to make a play on this out route while the safety and the CB are occupied by the other routes. This creates a hole in the defense, which Tua sees and proceeds to drive the ball into the gap with no issues. 

This is a good pre, and post-snap read, which is the type of development Dolphins’ fans should be looking for at this point. 

Tua does a lot of good things for a rookie quarterback. There is one area of his game that worries more than any other because you rarely see marketed improvement over time. His arm strength isn’t great, limiting his ceiling a lot more than people are willing to admit. 

Throws like this one give me some hope, though, because this is an absolute strike over the middle to Gesicki. Chiefs come out in cover-1 man; a defense Tua sees probably every day in practice. 

One thing I love about Tua is how willing he is to feed the hot hand of his playmakers. It’s something he picked up playing with four first-round receivers at Alabama. He saw Gesicki with a safety in 1v1 coverage and let it rip. 

This isn’t anything crazy, but it’s the down to down stuff a consistent quarterback in the NFL does. Again, the important part of this play is the velocity. I think he’s got adequate zip on the ball over the middle (most QBs do), but the ball does float on him outside the numbers. He will have to continue to be an above-average anticipatory thrower to really blossom as a player. 

Here is the throw that I think got a lot of people out of their seats on Sunday. Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way first because there is a larger conversation about quarterback play to be had here. 

Firstly, the placement on this throw down the field is absolutely absurd. I mean, seriously, if this pass is put in any other spot, it’s probably an INT or incomplete. The window is the size of the football, and Tua puts it right in the coin slot. Great stuff. 

Now that is out of the way, let’s talk about the process of deciding to throw this football. I’ll give Tua credit, he anticipated his guy winning, and he threw it up there for him to go up and get. However, this is double coverage and arguably triple coverage, depending on what your definition of that is. 

I hate to be this guy, but the ball literally goes right through the hands of Chiefs safety Juan Thornhill. 9-out-of-10 times you throw this ball against this coverage, it’s an INT. 

However, this is where that conversation about QB play comes into play because I’m actually okay with his process here. Would my tone be different if Thornhill caught this? Probably. But, he didn’t. 

Part of playing quarterback is risk management. You have to know when the right and wrong times to take shots against coverage are. I would argue given the game state he was in and the dominance of Mike Gesicki in this game, this throw wasn’t a horrible decision. 

You’re trailing against the defending champs, and the clock isn’t on your side. Sometimes you have to let your guys make a play for you, especially in a game against the best team in the NFL. This play singlehandedly got Miami back into this game. 

The risk on this play was: Tua throws an INT, and Miami loses, but they are probably going to lose anyway at this point. The reward on this play: It could be a touchdown that gets us back into a game we aren’t supposed to win anyway. This is the cliche “go big or go home” scenario. Tua went “big,” and it worked. I like my QBs to be aggressive, which is something Tua is getting better at every week. I’ll take this decision every time. 

We’ve covered the good stuff, but there were some less than ideal reps on Sunday as well. Here is the safety Kansas City got to make the game 30-10. They win off a stunt that freed up Chris Jones with a clear path to the quarterback. 

It would be easy to blame the offensive line on this play. I mean, the entire pocket pretty much collapse. This isn’t their best rep by any stretch of the imagination. With that said, I firmly believe this on Tua. 

When you are backed up like this, you need to make quick decisions with the football. You have to be decisive when you’re backed up like this, and he wasn’t. Mike Gesicki is wide open over the middle of the field while the pocket is still clean for Tua. 

He needs to see that and let it rip because you don’t have time to mess around like this. I’m not sure if he wanted a bigger play or what, but either way, the blame here should go more on Tua than the line. 

This play is a good example of things I think Tua can do better and an example of what his teammates can do better. Miami has a trips formation to the bottom of the screen against man coverage. This is something Miami did all game to beat the Chiefs’ man coverage, which is a huge improvement from whatever the heck they were doing in previous weeks. 

Mack Hollins runs underneath the route from Bowden creating separation and space for himself over the middle. He’s open here, and I’m pretty sure this should be Tua’s first read on this play. However, he doesn’t pull the trigger for whatever reason. That’s on him. 

Now when he breaks the pocket on this play, his teammates fail him. I have no idea what Lynn Bowden and Malcolm Perry are supposed to be doing here, but it’s not what they ended up doing. Neither of them gets a single inch of separation, and then they start blocking for Tua way too early. 

The play call is good. It generated an open receiver, but the other guys need to do better because sometimes things don’t go as planned. 



Tua played well on Sunday, especially in the second half. He stayed poise under pressure showing he could consistently find his hot route against the blitz. He was able to orchestrate multiple scoring drives with no help from his supporting cast against the best team in the NFL. 

There is a lot to be happy about despite the loss. If Miami can get some playmakers around Tua, this team will be a real threat to compete in the AFC. But they aren’t quite there yet, and that is okay. This is a process and a long term one at that. 

Miami controls their own future, and in the NFL, that is all you can really ask for.