Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa played just over a quarter in Saturday’s preseason opener against the Chicago Bears, and the results were, well, mixed to mostly positive.
Coming off a rocky rookie campaign, the 2020 draft’s fifth overall pick was sharp in limited action, completing eight of 11 passes for 99 yards and an interception.
The low point was a pick in the end zone, as Tagovailoa scanned the entire field and came back to tight end Adam Shaheen a fraction too late. Bears safety DeAndre Houston-Carson undercut the route and came down with the ball.
While the turnover certainly isn’t ideal, particularly in the scoring area, there were plenty of encouraging signs from Tagovailoa’s 2021 debut.
Tagovailoa looked healthy, poised in the pocket and showed off the accuracy that made him such a coveted prospect out of Alabama. Despite Chicago shutting down Miami’s rushing attack, Tagovailoa delivered multiple third-down conversions and displayed more confidence throwing the ball down field than he did last year.
The clear highlight was when Tagovailoa hit tight end Mike Gesicki on a deep completion to set up a field goal.
Coming off a serious hip injury and the gauntlet of the pre-draft process, Tagovailoa was behind the curve compared to some of his peers like Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert. This offseason, he’s had the chance to be the clear starter from the jump, and is much healthier.
With greater mobility and explosiveness to his throwing motion thanks to his improved health, it sure looks like Tagovailoa has the makings of living up to the hype in Year 2.
While it’s always wise not to get too excited about what happens in the preseason, it wouldn’t have been a good look if Tagovailoa came out completely flat. He showed a willingness to take risks that was previously absent, a firm grasp of the offense and made the most of the weapons around him despite many of his key receivers not in the lineup.