One key stat for optimism for Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa

The debate surrounding Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is one that should be expected to rage until we get our first chances to see the 2021 Miami Dolphins offense in action — and even then there feels to be plenty of discourse to be had regarding Tagovailoa’s ceiling as a passer. Much has been made about his unwillingness at times to attack down the field or press into tight coverage with his throws. Some will point to his supporting cast last year. Others will suggest it was the leap in competition from being head and shoulders better than everyone at Alabama (other than LSU in 2019, of course).

The truth is, it is probably a combination of all of the above and much more. But while we’re waiting for the clarity on what Tagovailoa’s NFL product is going to look like, we can all take a moment and appreciate one of Tagovailoa’s best qualities from the 2020 season. Next Gen Stats has released a statistic highlighting the leaders from this past season in successfully evading the opposing pass rush.

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Tua Tagovailoa? He finished as the NFL’s second-most elusive passer last year; evading the rush on 24.4% of his throws.

This is a heck of a statistic and a testament to Tagovailoa’s footwork within the pocket. He’s not a freakishly big athlete like Josh Allen — who is a pain to bring down because he’s big, strong and yet still athletic. Tagovailoa isn’t freakishly fast like Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray; both of which are likes 4.3 athletes in the 40-yard dash. But he is a technician with his footwork; just as he was at the University of Alabama.

Tagovailoa will need to shine in this department long-term to be the best version of himself as a player; and as the young offensive line matures and concedes less pressures, the blueprint for a more effective passing game becomes quite clear. The Dolphins’ second-year quarterback has plenty to improve upon, but this is one area of his game where the team should be hoping for more of the same moving forward.