3 super early bold predictions for Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa in 2021

After an up-and-down rookie season, can Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa take a big step in 2021?

Tua Tagovailoa, Penei Sewell,Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins didn’t even have to bottom out in 2019 to “Tank For Tua”. The landed the No. 5 overall in the 2020 draft, and still got their guy in Tua Tagovailoa. He made his first NFL start in Week last year, as the Dolphins fulfilled their plan to make the move to him after their bye week. Even after it was re-scheduled because of COVID-19 schedule fallout.

Miami went 6-3 in Tagovailoa’s starts, though one win has to be credited to Ryan Fitzpatrick orchestrating a fourth quarterback comeback off the bench in Week 16. Tua threw for more than 290 yards or multiple touchdowns in five of those starts, while failing to get to 100 yards through the air in three others (two of which he was benched in, due to injury and/or ineffectiveness).

Fitzpatrick is gone, and Jacoby Brissett was signed to take his place. Deshaun Watson trade rumors have seemingly faded. The Dolphins are moving forward with Tagovailoa as their quarterback in 2021. Unless, of course, they draft a quarterback with the No. 6 overall pick. But for now, we’re operating as if the Dolphins will follow through on the idea Tagovailoa is the guy.

Can Tagovailoa take a big step in his second season? Here are some early bold predictions.

3 super early bold predictions for Tua Tagovailoa in 2021

3. At Least Double His Rushing TDs

Tagovailoa ran for 109 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie, with all three scores coming in two-game stretch. He’s not being incredibly mobile or a special runner, in the vein of Lamar Jackson or Kyler Murray. But Tagovailoa can move some, and he had nine rushing touchdowns in college.

Being further removed from the hip injury that shortened his final season at Alabama, and being the starter from Week 1 this year, easily puts him on at least six rushing touchdowns in 2021.

2. At Least 25 Touchdown Passes

In his 10 games last season, seven of which he started and finished, Tagovailoa had 11 touchdown passes with multiple passing scores three times. He had nine touchdown passes in the aforementioned seven; 1.3 per game. Under the assumption he plays all 17 games in 2021, it’s just under 1.5 passing touchdowns per game to get to 25. So it won’t take much of an uptick in touchdown rate (per game at least) for him to reach that mark. Let’s book it, perhaps with room to spare.

1. Top-5 In The League In Completion Percentage

The graphic below, courtesy of Sports Info Solutions, is telling about how little Tagovailoa had to work with as a rookie.

This tweet clip from Ian Hartitz of Pro Football Focus says something too.

Player Profiler credited Tagovailoa with a 80.3 percent catchable pass rate last year (third-best), and a true completion percentage of 71.8 percent. Dolphins pass catchers were also credited with 23 drops on his throws by PP, which Hartitz gave us a sample of above. The addition of Will Fuller should be helpful as an upgrade, and a downfield threat. An upgrade to the pass protection in the draft would be nice too.

Tagovailoa’s greatest strength is his accuracy. There’s some conflicting data regarding how good he was under pressure or from a clean pocket as a rookie. So let’s split that difference. A push toward a 69-70 percent completion rate doesn’t seem like a big leap, and that would put him top-5 in the league.