For the first time this season, we have a losers edition of the Tua Tagovailoa All-22 film review. The Dolphins dropped a clunker to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in a game that wasn’t competitive past the second quarter. 

Tagovailoa and the Dolphins offense came out of the gate with two straight touchdown drives but then was quickly hemmed in by Buffalo’s front. 

There’s an extensive conversation to be had about the offense’s failings as a unit on Sunday. However, we’re here to talk about QB1’s performance. It was probably Tagovailoa’s worst game of the season. 

But that has more to do with the high bar Tagovailoa set in the first three weeks of the season rather than his actual performance. On the list of problems the Dolphins had on Sunday, Tagovailoa is close to the bottom. 

Let’s dive into the film to see how Buffalo made Tagovailoa’s life so hard. 

Tua All-22 vs. Bills

Boot Action

Despite the game being out of reach early, Tagovailoa played relatively well on Sunday. So, we’ll start with his better throws before diving into the not-so-good stuff. 

This one came on the Dolphins’ opening drive. There are a few things to note in this play, most notably Tagovailoa’s accuracy on the move with a defender in his face. Miami runs a play-action boot concept with a post corner and two underneath crossers. 

Tagovailoa gets outside the pocket and wants to hit the first crosser, but it’s covered up. This leads him to the backside crosser, and he delivers a strike with a defender bearing down on him. 

His improvement on throws outside the pocket this season has been a massive boon to his profile. Tagovailoa struggled mightly with accuracy on throws out to his left in 2022. This season has been a different story. 

It was also nice to see him continue to read out this concept. Last season, Tagovailoa probably would’ve spiked this into the ground when he realized the defender was closing on him. The trust he’s developed in the offense has made him more confident, and the result is nice plays like this one. 

From a scheme perspective, the Dolphins could benefit from getting Tagovailoa outside the pocket more often. He’s nine of 13 on passes outside the pocket this season for 152 yards. 

It would be a good changeup, especially if Miami’s offensive line isn’t holding like it wasn’t on Sunday. 

Placement, Accuracy

This was our favorite throw from Sunday because it shows what makes Tagovailoa good and how much he’s grown this season. 

It’s another play-action concept, with the first read being a bang post at the top of the screen. However, Buffalo covers it quite well. The corner is in a good position, the safety is driving down, and the linebacker is sinking underneath. 

Tagovailoa promptly gets off his first read, returning to his right where he’s got Tyreek Hill running a stop route. When analysts talk about “throwing receivers open,” this is what they mean. 

Tagovailoa throws a perfectly placed back-shoulder pass, leading Hill away from the cornerback. The touch and accuracy on these throws in the middle of the field are a hallmark of Tagovailoa’s game. 

What’s new in 2023 is he can get to those throws on his second read — without losing accuracy. This is his second read, and he still threw the ball before Hill got out of his break. Tagovailoa’s post-snap processing speed has increased this season, and it’s paying off big time. 

Trusting His Guys

Raheem Mostert made one of the few great plays in Sunday’s game when he ripped down this throw from Tagovailoa on the wheel route. A few weeks ago, we discussed how crucial measured aggression is for quarterbacks. 

Sometimes, quarterbacks must make daring throws that don’t look great on paper but work because they make the perfect pass. This is one of those times. 

Tagovailoa throws this pass with plus anticipation and perfect accuracy, giving Mostert a chance to highpoint the ball. 

Pre-snap, most would say this play is covered up. The window to put this pass is incredibly small because of the safety over the top. This isn’t so much a hole shot as a keyhole shot. 

Still, Tagovailoa throws the ball so early, and with so much touch, it arrives just in time for Mostert to get hands on it before taking a hit. Throws like this shouldn’t be the first option, but it’s a good one to have in your arsenal.

Turnover Worthy Throws

Tagovailoa made all the good plays we’re accustomed to, but he was clearly feeling some pressure in this one. This pass should’ve been intercepted. It went right through Tre White’s hands. 

This play breaks down for a few reasons. One, Kendall Lamm and Isaiah Wynn get beat pretty quickly. Wynn gets run by, and Lamm collapses into the pocket pretty quickly. 

Tagovailoa is trying to get the ball into the middle of the field where the Dolphins have two in-breakers. The Bills cover it up nicely. It would’ve taken a perfectly executed throw with elite timing to fit that window. 

However, the pressure forces Tagovailoa off his spot, messing with the play’s timing. He gets outside to his left and throws a lazy, late pass into the flat. 

This throw has to be in the dirt. When your receiver is moving with you — like the Berrios throw against the Chargers — throws like this can work. But when the receiver is flat-footed, that means the cornerback is too. Tagovailoa knew it was zone, which means he should’ve known a defender would be sitting in coverage. 

This was one of the rare panic throws Tagovailoa has made this season. 

This one actually was an interception. There’s not a ton of analysis to do on this one — Tagovailoa sailed it. It’s a high throw in the middle of the field, typically leading to easy INTs. 

The more interesting conversation is why Tagovailoa even attempted this throw in the first place. He’s targeting Robbie Chosen with an underneath defender in perfect position and a safety over the top. 

There was no trickery. The safety was there pre-snap and remained so post-snap. Tagovailoa has the checkdown option open but passes it up to attempt an incredibly difficult throw into double coverage. 

It looked like Tagovailoa was pressing for parts of Sunday’s game. He felt the pressure of having to score on every drive because the defense couldn’t get a stop, and it led to attempt passes he otherwise wouldn’t. 

This isn’t the “measured aggression” we discussed earlier. This throw was reckless. 


Usually, in this section, we take a lot of time waxing poetically about what the game means for Tagovailoa’s place among the other NFL quarterbacks. 

After watching the game, it’s pretty clear this performance shouldn’t move the needle in either direction. Tagovailoa wasn’t good enough to consider moving him up, but he wasn’t bad enough to move down, either. 

The truth is the Dolphins got outplayed by the Bills in every facet on Sunday. Tagovailoa was “good,” and Josh Allen was “perfect.” 

The Bills’ defense came in with an excellent game plan and executed for 75 percent of the game. The Dolphins’ defense came in with a poor game plan and executed for about five percent of the game. 

We could talk about the disparities in trench play, too. Miami lost that battle on both sides of the ball. Sometimes, you have to tip your hat to the other team. 

The Dolphins and Tagovailoa shot themselves in the foot at times, but the result of this game has as much to do with that as it does with Buffalo being one of the AFC’s best teams. 

For our purposes, the Dolphins are still getting solid quarterback play from Tagovailoa. Could he have been better on Sunday? Sure. But everyone could’ve. He was far from the team’s biggest issue.