Now, that’s more like it. The Miami Dolphins took care of business in Week 15, defeating the New York Jets 30-0. The Dolphins completed a sweep of the Jets and outscored their divisional opponent 64-13 in their two games. 

This game had a little more weight after Miami’s collapse against the Titans last Monday. For Tua Tagovailoa, it was an opportunity to prove he didn’t need Tyreek Hill, who missed the game with an ankle injury, to be a functional quarterback. 

We’d argue that wasn’t true, but Tagovailoa handled business either way. The Dolphins’ signal-caller finished 21 of 24 for 224 yards, one touchdown, and zero turnovers. 

The numbers or the film aren’t overly impressive just because Miami was so much better than New York on Sunday. Tagovailoa didn’t need to do a whole lot. That’s not taking anything anyway from him — it was the game plan. 

Let’s dive into the film and break down one of Tagovailoa’s cleanest performances of the season. 

Tua All-22 vs. Jets

Bombs Away

Let’s start with everyone’s favorite throw from Sunday’s blowout. This is an absolute nuke to Jaylen Waddle, and we’d tell you it’s one of Tagaovailoa’s best vertical balls of the season. 

If you’ve read this column every week of the season, then you know one of Tagovailoa’s most significant improvements this season is his accuracy on these passes. In previous years, he left these passes short. 

That’s not happening in 2023, and it’s made Miami’s offense so dangerous. This play is an excellent example of why it matters so much. 

Before this point in the game, Miami’s entire passing offense was passing to the flat and screens. So the Jets started to crowd the box. Pause the video pre-snap and look at where the Jets’ safeties are. They’re standing in the low-hole area, trying to stop the crossers and bang posts Miami loves. 

That leaves D.J. Reed responsible for any vertical route with no safety help. That’s not a battle he’ll win against someone like Waddle. The Dolphins can’t live on throws like this, but it’s imperative they show defenses they’re capable of hitting the layups. 

That wasn’t always the case last season. Tagovailoa deserves a lot of the credit for that improvement. 

Anticipation Galore

The vertical route to Waddle was flashy, but this might’ve been the best overall throw Tagovailoa made on Sunday for a few reasons. For starters, the anticipation on this throw is wild. 

Waddle isn’t even close to this window when Tagovailoa lets it go. Additionally, this is good defense by the Jets’ linebackers. They’re where they should be, making it an incredibly tough window. 

To make this throw even more impressive, Tagovailoa is dealing with pressure in his face. That’s what forces him to throw the ball so early (even for him). It doesn’t matter, though, because he’s not rattled and knows precisely where Waddle should be. 

Lastly, the placement on this throw is wildly underrated. It’s difficult to know how intentional it was since he was dealing with pressure, but putting this pass on Waddle’s back shoulder allows him to pivot and get upfield for YAC. 

The wonderful Travis Wingfield, Miami’s team reporter, called this “professional quarterbacking” on Monday morning, and we couldn’t agree more. 

Braxton Berrios Has Hops?

Sunday’s game was so interesting because, without Hill, it was assumed Miami’s depth pieces would have to step up with the Jets doubling Waddle. Well, the Jets didn’t do the latter and got burned. 

However, Braxton Berrios made this impressive catch worth talking about. For one, he’s someone who should be a bit more involved in the offense. He has talent and is much closer to Miami’s prototype than other players outsnapping him. 

For Tagovailoa, this play shows how good his touch is outside the numbers. Tagovailoa isn’t great outside the numbers. It’s just a fact. His lack of arm strength shows up there. 

With that said, his accuracy, touch, and placement are so good he can hit these corner routes from the opposite hash. Most players with Tagovailoa’s lack of arm strength can’t make this throw, but his other traits are so special he can. 

Only Mistake

This was the only mistake Tagovailoa made on Sunday, and it’s ironic because it’s roughly the same INT he threw against the Jets on Black Friday. 

The Jets have a three-high look, with the other safety playing a robber-ish role in the middle of the field. Tagovailoa likes the outbreaking route at the bottom of the screen, but the LB is sitting on it the whole way. 

If Tagovailoa is going to make this throw, the ball needs to be more on the back shoulder than anything. Instead, it’s too slow and inside, allowing the LB to undercut it. Tagovailoa is lucky this wasn’t picked because it should’ve been. 


This game didn’t tell us a ton about Tagovailoa. We didn’t believe he was a “Tyreek Hill merchant” before the game, so seeing him perform well without Hill won’t move us. 

Tagovailoa’s passing chart will be shared online this week, and some will use it as an argument against Tagovailoa. This is what it looks like for reference: 

In those people’s defense, they’d be right to say Tagovailoa didn’t light up the world on Sunday. However, that wasn’t because he couldn’t. It was because he didn’t need to. 

There’s a difference between those denotations. In this column, we’ve pushed that Tagovailoa must take another step to become an elite quarterback. Still, that doesn’t mean we take the “mundane” good performances for granted. 

Tagovailoa is on the doorstep of becoming an elite QB because he plays well in the games he’s supposed to. You can cherry-pick games where he hasn’t, but that goes for every quarterback. 

Generally, Tagovailoa wins the games he was supposed to and does his job. With all their injuries, the Dolphins crafted a game plan to minimize the impact of those injuries and win. 

Tagovailoa executed that game plan. Sometimes, it’s not deeper than that. Not every game needs to be a referendum. 

Now, the next three games are a different story, and we can’t wait to break them down.