AFC East Reporter
Tua Tagovailoa was on the middle of the Miami Dolphins’ early season surge. The quarterback is now on the middle of their late-season collapse. Tagovailoa threw three interceptions within the Dolphins’ 26-20 loss to the Inexperienced Bay Packers in Week 16 on Christmas Day.
Tua had a sensational first quarter. And it made me assume — incorrectly — that the Dolphins had their act collectively after weeks of dysfunction. However Miami let Inexperienced Bay and Aaron Rodgers stick round in quarters two and three. After which within the fourth quarter, the Dolphins’ closing three drive ended as follows:
It made for a Merry Christmas for Rodgers.
For the Dolphins, it superior their shedding streak to 4 video games. If Miami loses the following two video games, it misses the playoffs. If the Dolphins win the following two video games, they’re within the playoffs.
And guess who they play? On the New England Patriots. And versus the New York Jets.
It is going to be wild within the AFC East over the following two weeks.
However let’s contact on the great earlier than we get into the unhealthy for Miami.
The Dolphins received their big-play offense going within the first quarter, with two completely totally different game-changing performs.
First, Tagovailoa dropped the proper cross into a niche in protection — whereas throwing off his again foot — to arrange Waddle for a catch-and-run. However should you’ve seen this offense, you recognize that when these Dolphins receivers get to operating, they do not typically cease. Waddle took it to the home, producing 74 yards after the catch, which went for 84 yards in whole.
That is the kind of play that defenses have taken away in latest weeks, with the Los Angeles Chargers and the San Francisco 49ers throwing particular coverages at Miami to forestall throws attacking the middle-intermediate of the sector.
However Tua did not depend upon that space for giant performs. Tyreek Hill helped him assault the deep a part of the sector.
For the second large play of the primary quarter, Tua heaved a 52-yard deep completion (that traveled 51 air yards) for Tyreek that put the Dolphins close to the aim line for a punch-in landing from Jeff Wilson.
Try fullback Alec Ingold blasting Packers linebacker Kingsley Enagbare off his ft on Wilson’s landing.
Previous that, the offense started to slip.
Within the second quarter, Inexperienced Bay tried a pretend punt from its 20-yard line, and Miami stuffed the play — an inside run off a direct snap. So Tua and Co. had the ball within the crimson zone. However penalties and sacks led to a subject aim try. It wasn’t what they needed a second after they might have gone up by two touchdowns.
Later within the second, the protection generated a three-and-out from Rodgers — however operating again Jeff Wilson fumbled the soccer on the second play of the Dolphins’ ensuing drive. That allowed the Packers to sneak a subject aim try in earlier than halftime, which stored them inside one rating heading into the third quarter.
After which it went from unhealthy to horrendous.
The Packers offense did not need to do a lot, chipping away on the Dolphins’ lead. And Miami simply stored giving Inexperienced Bay alternatives to take action. Similar to the remainder of the offensive messiness, Tua’s interceptions solely appeared to worsen. He merely wasn’t seeing the protection for what it was. The primary interception seemed to be a product of overaggressiveness, with Tua making an attempt to drop a ball into a good window — however the quarterback threw excessive and into the arms of cornerback Jaire Alexander.
The subsequent interception was a matter of the quarterback not seeing linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, who simply nabbed a ball meant for Mostert. And the ultimate interception was a matter of Tua staring down tight finish Mike Gesicki. Cornerback Rasul Douglas dropped off Hill, who was operating a slant. And Douglas was in a position to drop off to nab the floating cross meant for Gesicki. That one successfully ended the sport.
As terrific as Tua has been in 2022, with the quarterback main the group to a sensational begin, there isn’t a denying his position within the group’s latest collapse. And this loss to the Packers solely elevated the toll that Tua has taken on this offense. And it’s actually on the quarterback. Though it as soon as appeared completely insane that the Dolphins would miss the playoffs, it’s now possible.
Each the Patriots and Jets have a small probability of constructing the playoffs. Each groups might be taken with ruining Miami’s season.
It is a nightmare sport for the participant that would result in a nightmare state of affairs for the group. The strain is constructing round Tua. And as far as we have seen, the quarterback does not deal with strain nicely.
Will he freeze up in December? Or can he shake these terrible performances? Tua’s job safety relies upon upon it. A possible contract extension relies upon upon it. And, after all, the Dolphins’ season relies upon upon it.
High tales from FOX Sports activities:
Previous to becoming a member of FOX Sports activities because the AFC East reporter, Henry McKenna spent seven years masking the Patriots for USA TODAY Sports activities Media Group and Boston Globe Media. Comply with him on Twitter at @McKennAnalysis.
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