Miami, FL

Tua Tagovailoa Makes Preseason Debut, Dolphins Fall to Raiders

Anthony DiMoro

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Dolphins' Tua Tagovailoa throws a pass during Miami's preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday.(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

The 2022 NFL season is, by all accounts, a 'make or break' season for Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, and his journey towards cementing his spot as the Dolphins' franchise quarterback when he made his preseason debut on Saturday night.

While the Dolphins would lose to the Las Vegas Raiders, at home, 15-13, Tagovailoa led two drives in his first outing under new head coach Mike McDaniel, and within McDaniels' highly hyped offensive system.

The results? Tagovailoa completed 6-of-8 passes for 58 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions, leading Miami to a field goal on one of the two possessions.

Tagovailoa looked more comfortable in the offense, more confident in his process, and a bit more refined in his mechanics, particularly his footwork in the pocket, and that led to some excitement from fans.

But is the glimpse we got on Saturday night during two possessions enough to push back Tua's critics?

Hardly, but Tagovailoa was happy to get his reps in.

“It felt good,” Tagovailoa said (via AL.com). “I enjoyed being out there with the guys. I enjoyed the atmosphere that was out there tonight with the fans. I know as an offense, you always want to go down and accomplish every drive ending in a score. Obviously, that wasn’t the case. The two drives that we had, we had a field goal. But our job as an offense is to try to go down and put points up on the board.

“I felt there were some things we needed to clean up on pre-snap operations, and also just everyone playing together – us all knowing our assignments and knowing what to do. But I think for the most part, extremely proud of the way the second-string guys came in, the third-string guys came in, stepped up. A lot of the younger guys played extremely well in this game.”

Tagovailoa didn't have a running game to work with, as the Raiders snuffed out the Dolphins rushing attack, which forced Miami to settle for a field goal in the second quarter.

Tua, who was playing without his top receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, admitted the offense was a bit rusty.

“As you can see, we were a little rusty when we went out there,” he said, adding “but it’s nothing that a little film can’t help. I think it’s going to be good, and I hope we get another opportunity to go out and play a couple of series next week, too.”

The game also marked the first time McDaniel got to see Tua in a live-game situation, despite it only being the preseason.

“It was my first opportunity with him, and he executed, really, everything that we asked him to do,” the first year Dolphins coach said. “It was something to build upon moving forward that the team was really pumped to see.”

The Dolphins will wrap up their preseason against the Philadelphia Eagles, and then it's on to their regular season opener against the New England Patriots.

Tua is hopeful he can get some more work in when they take on the Eagles next Saturday.

“I’m hoping I get to play in the Eagles game as well,” he said. “As a competitor, I think anyone in the locker room wants to do that. … I wanted to play more snaps in this game, but Mike said that was it.”

While two possessions are far from enough to determine just how improved Tua is in this critical year of his career, it gave us all a glimpse into what could be in store, and an improved Tua is better for the Dolphins heading into the 2022 season.

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CEO of Gamactica and Elite Rank Media. Contributor to Sports Rants, Fright Nerd and Search Engine Watch. Former contributor for Forbes and Huffington Post. Covers sports, internet marketing, gaming, entertainment, and the content creation industries.

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