Tua Tagovailoa’s work as quarterback of the Dolphins was done.
Tagovailoa’s work as a leader of the Dolphins wasn’t.
Following the Dolphins’ 48-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, Tagovailoa repeatedly pointed a finger at himself, saying he’s to blame for much of what went wrong with Miami’s offense.
But there was an exception. Referring to the record 70-20 rout of the Denver Broncos a week earlier, Tagovailoa called this loss "humbling." Did the Dolphins need to be humbled?
It’s worth noting that Tagovailoa also said, “I would say from my standpoint, I didn’t feel as if any of the guys in the locker room took it in a way of, ‘Yeah, we won by this much. That’s how it’s going to feel the next game and the next game — it’s going to carry over.’ ”
The Bills are the three-time defending AFC East champions. They’ve lost only once in the past 13 home games against the Dolphins. Whether Tagovailoa’s teammates were in the right frame of mind to face a challenge of this magnitude or not, their quarterback repeatedly accepted his share of the blame and more.
For the record, Tagovailoa completed 25-of-35 passes for 282 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He was sacked four times after entering the game having been sacked once all season. There was early success on touchdown drives of 77 and 70 yards, making it appear a three-hour shootout was unfolding.
Then, only one side was doing the shooting. By game’s end, Tyreek Hill had just three catches for 58 yards. Jaylen Waddle, back from injury, had four catches for 46. Neither scored, although Waddle had one score nullified by a ineligible receiver downfield penalty on sub center Liam Eichenberg.
“Off of the two drives that we had, I thought that we did really well with our communication in and out of the huddle,” Tagovailoa said. “Getting guys where they needed to be in lining up and executing.
“And then with drives, there were a lot of communication errors on my part. And I’ve got to be better with that aspect of the game for our guys.”
Tagovailoa was citing communication problems, which the Dolphins thought were behind them after a rough 2022.
“That’s on me,” he said. “You know, not communicating to all our guys and it has to do with everything: motions, protections. So I didn’t allow those guys to go out there and play football the way they want to play football. You know, basically guys are thinking and guys were having to guess. That’s not how I want our guys to go out and play and that’s something that I need to be better with and I’ll work on.”
Coach Mike McDaniel said he’s concerned with making sure he’s “putting people in the right positions for success. After the first couple of drives, it was a struggle for us.”
McDaniel disagreed that Tagovailoa should shoulder so much of the blame.
“That’s what you want to hear from the quarterback, the starting quarterback of your franchise, because you’re hoping not to have finger-pointers, especially from the leader of your team,” McDaniel said. “That being said, that’s all nice to hear, and I appreciate him taking the bullet for a lot of people. But I think that one of the reasons that we’ll all look in the mirror and understand why we had success (in the 3-0 start) is because we didn’t have those things happen.”
McDaniel added, “Tua can’t be in charge of getting everyone aligned. So there’s a lot of steps that go on with that. And it’s the National Football League. You play one of the best teams in the National Football League, you better not have that (as) part of your game. Otherwise, you’ll learn the hard way — which is what we did today.”
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Tua Tagovailoa, on blame for Miami Dolphins' loss to Bills: ‘That's on me'