Deflating losses shed light on Tua Tagovailoa, State of the Dolphins’ attack – NFL Nation

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle sprinted hard in the seam before breaking against the sideline in the area between Tennessee Titans safety Amani Hooker and cornerback Kristian Fulton. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa spotted him and lost the ball in Waddle’s waiting hands for a 45-yard win on Sunday.

It was just the second reception of the game for Waddle, who had the sixth-most catches in the NFL as he went into Sunday’s 34-3 loss to Tennessee; he finished with three catches on 47 yards on seven goals. Outside of tight-end Mike Gesicki (four catches, 51 yards), no Dolphins catcher finished with an effective state line of any metric.

Even with another game left this season against the New England Patriots (10-6) on Sunday (16:25 ET, CBS), there is a clear need to improve its offense as Miami (8-8) prepares for even more an offseason without a playoff look.

Tagovailoa delivered his worst performance of the season, finishing just 18 of 38 passes on 205 yards and an interception with a throw-in percentage of 21% off target, according to ESPN Stats & Information. When he plays poorly, Miami simply does not have the talent to overcome it – especially if Waddle is kept in check.

“If a person does not do what they are supposed to do, then it pretty much destroys the play,” Tagovailoa said Sunday. “Whether it’s me doing a certain throw, running backs running and finding the right path with the line blocking a certain path, the recipients’ routes. Everything matters, the little things matter. It was just poor execution from our site. “

Tagovailoa had beaten his lowest pass ratings of the Dolphins’ seven-game winning streak over the team’s two previous games, but they were slightly overshadowed by running back Duke Johnson’s excellent ground performance in Week 15 and Waddle’s performance with 10 catches per week. 16. Johnson was decent Sunday, rushing 49 yards on seven carries before Miami came back with two goals and abandoned the race.

The Dolphins are 1-7 this season when they are behind by more goals, and their lone win came against the Jets (4-12) in Week 16. But when Tennessee opened a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter, the Dolphins turned to Tagovailoa to get them back in the game.

He and the attack failed, which is particularly disappointing given what was at stake for the team and Tagovailoa.

Miami controlled its own fate as they entered the game, having to win its last two games to break a four-season playoff drought. Instead, it was mathematically eliminated from the playoffs as Sunday’s matches ended. Tagovailoa was given the opportunity to raise Miami’s offense in a critical situation – not unlike last season’s regular season finale, where it had to beat the Buffalo Bills to win a place in the playoffs. The Dolphins lost that match 56-26 when Tagovailoa threw three interceptions, including a pick-six.

“The question around Tua is, can he be in a position, in a high-level game, to take over the game as a pitcher?” ESPN NFL analyst Matt Bowen said before Miami’s Week 16 game in New Orleans. “And we do not know yet, it’s something I want to see … Because the top players can.”

After keeping questions about his future at bay over the past two months, Tagovailoa took it up again after the Titans loss.

“I’ve heard it all the time I’ve been here, so in the end I can control what I can control, and that has to be the best version of myself for this team,” Tagovailoa said. “We have to move on to the next match at this point. We will look at the mistakes we have made, make some corrections and move on.”

Sunday’s loss stings a little more than usual, considering it was Miami’s first game in more than a month against a team with a winning record, and it only managed 256 yards offensive.

“The Titans are a good team. They had a good plan and we did not play well enough at any stage,” Miami coach Brian Flores said after the game.

But it’s strikingly clear that the Dolphins’ focus this offseason should be on building a better support system around Tagovailoa; in his present state he is incapable of lifting a misdemeanor of himself, so until he changes that their best bid is to build as strong a team around him as possible.

Because with a strong supporting role, one of two things will happen – Tagovaailoa’s game will get better, or the Dolphins will have pieces in place for the one who replaces him.


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