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Breaking Down Tua's Return to Action

Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa put up impressive numbers in his first game back from his rib injury, but the evaluation process needs to continue

All things considered, Tua Tagovailoa's return to the lineup for the Miami Dolphins had to be viewed as pretty successful even if it didn't help the team stop its losing streak.

The individual numbers — 329 passing yards, 70.2 completion percentage, 95.1 passer rating — certainly were impressive enough, but they also need to be put into perspective.

And we'll start with this: This game was a perfect example for those always throwing around Tua's record as a starter to defend him and proof that won-loss record is a team stat, not a quarterback stat.

Let's face it, Tagovailoa more than played well enough for the Dolphins to win the game, but because of key plays — the failed fourth-and-1, the fourth-and-8 by the Jaguars, the two long field goals by Jacksonville — where he wasn't even involved, he ended up with an L on his resume.

So let's please just stop with the heavy emphasis on the won-loss record — after wins and after losses.

This is not going to go over well with some fans (you know who you are), but it also need to be pointed out that for all of Tua's good work, the Dolphins scored only 20 points Sunday and that happened to be the lowest total allowed by Jacksonville this season.

It also needs to be mentioned that while a 95.1 passer rating is pretty good, it also was the second-lowest for a starting quarterback facing Jacksonville in 2021. Tyrod Taylor had a 112.1 rating in the opener, followed by a 125.6 for Teddy Bridgewater in Week 2, a 93.1 by Kyler Murray in Week 3, a 132.8 for Joe Burrow in Week 4 and a 107.6 for Ryan Tannehill in Week 5.

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Having said all that, yes, Tua looked good in his return to action and it's not his fault he was facing a bad defense; that's the team that happened to be on the schedule.

He made some good throws throughout the game, particularly nice touch passes over the middle to tight ends Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe.

There were, however, some bad decisions as well, notably throwing the ball on a third-and-2 scramble when he had an easy first down by just continue to run; throwing a short pass in the middle of the field to Malcolm Brown on the final drive of the first half; forcing a deep throw into double coverage to Jayle Waddle down the right sideline when Isaiah Ford appeared to be running free down the middle; and, of course, the interception.

But there was more good than bad in Tua's performance, and it was overall a pretty positive step.

But it was just that, a step. A starting point, if you will.

It was a performance on which to build, but one that Tua will need to duplicate and improve on in the coming weeks and through the rest of the season if he hopes to convince the Dolphins he needs to be their guy at quarterback.