Sunday was a disappointing loss for the Miami Dolphins as they fell short against the Kansas City Chiefs 33-27. Don Shula always said you have to get something positive out of a loss, or it’s a totally negative experience. For me, I was encouraged by the play of rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in defeat.

When head coach Brian Flores made the switch from incumbent Ryan Fitzpatrick to Tagovailoa, he knew the team would go through the ups and downs with his rookie quarterback. Tagovailoa played well in his first 3 starts before having a tough outing against the Denver Broncos in which he was benched in favor of Fitzpatrick because he was struggling and the offense needed a spark. It sparked a huge discussion on talk radio and social media about whether the Dolphins made a mistake picking Tagovailoa over fellow rookie Justin Herbert because Herbert has put up better numbers.

However, after being benched and missing a game with a thumb injury, Tagovailoa has played much better and seems to be seeing the field better. He hasn’t been perfect by any stretch, but the growth has been there. After a sluggish start to the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals, the offensive coordinator decided to go to a hurry-up offense to get Tagovailoa in rhythm. The results were much better as he was in command of the offense and was getting the ball out quicker, and the timing was much better.

Yesterday he had his ups and downs, but he got better with each snap. He had some bad mistakes, like taking a sack before the half when the team was just across midfield rather than throw the ball away to the team a shot at a field goal before the half. He also took a sack in the end zone for a safety that was costly.

Despite those plays, as well as an interception, Tagovailoa played well. It wasn’t good enough to win, but he did a good job of getting rid of the ball, for the most part, went through his progressions better, and he the hot reads when the Chiefs were blitzing. Tagovailoa also moved in the pocket when he had to. He would scramble to try to make a positive play when receivers weren’t getting open, which he didn’t do against the Broncos before getting benched. He also is trying to throw 50-50 balls when receivers are one on one.

The thing that impressed me most was when the team was down 30-10; he led them on 2 long touchdown drives and doing it without his top 3 wide receivers and eventually losing his tight end Mike Gesicki. That’s no easy feat. No offense to Lynn Bowden, Malcolm Perry, and Mack Hollins, but they are no better than number 3 WRs at best. One thing Tagovailoa has going for him with those receivers is the fact that he had more practice time with them in training camp, so he probably has better chemistry but needs more playmakers to maximize his talents.

One thing I will say for Tagovailoa is the game isn’t too big for him, and he doesn’t seem overwhelmed. He doesn’t get too high or low. He takes it one play at a time. Being benched might have been the best thing for him because it gave him a chance to sit and learn some of the things he should be doing from Fitzpatrick, such as getting rid of the ball quicker, reading his progressions, and stepping out of the pocket when a receiver isn’t open. The hope is that Tagovailoa will continue to get better with each snap the rest of the year. That’s what the rest of them will be about, as well as making the playoffs while still in the race. Sunday was a good step in the right direction with Tagovailoa’s development.