Tua

Tua Tagovailoa: Elite prospect or product of a good system?

  • Alabama Football
  • Kyler Murray
  • Miami Dolphins
  • Trevon Diggs
  • Tua Tagovailoa
  • Xavier McKinney
By David Gregg July 29, 2020 2 Comment

Why Tua Tagovailoa is not simply a product of the Alabama system, and playing with 5-star recruits, but a truly elite prospect.

In recent months several fans, “expert” analysts, and even some coaches and general managers have been claiming that new Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is just simply a product of the Alabama system. They credited much of his success to the 5-star talent surrounding him. Often claiming that any other quarterback playing in that offense can put up the same numbers as Tua. Now, no one can argue that having multiple first-round talents playing alongside him might’ve made his job easier. Tagovailoa rarely had to worry about his receivers being out of position or having run the wrong route. His football IQ, physical and intangible traits, were unaffected by the level of talent around him.

Football IQ:

His pre-snap reads are that of a veteran. His understanding of what is going on on the field all around him, with all 22 guys. When reading the defense before a snap, he sees what the defense is going to do before the play happens. If he sees a guy step up into the box he knows the slant route will be open.

When he sees players shifting, he knows right where the open windows in a route are going to be. If there is a certain throw he wants to make, he has a knack for being able to look defenders off and get his man open. Even guys who went up against him every day in practice, like Xavier McKinney and Trevon Diggs, commented on how difficult of a job it was. McKinney was quoted as saying “He has looked me off several times, several times, and I got to a point where I started to get kind of frustrated. I’m like, ‘I don’t know how you’re doing it.'”

Pair his ability to lead defenders away from the play with his eyes, with his quick, smart decision making, and it becomes extremely hard to get an advantage in pass coverage. Diggs was quoted, in the same article, saying, “Every day was a competition… They don’t like to lose… I don’t like to lose. Tua doesn’t like to throw picks.” And that is evident by his throwing 87 touchdown passes on 684 career attempts with only 11 interceptions. He had a streak of 205 passes without throwing an interception. Not to mention he is the record holder for career quarterback efficiency rating at 199.4 blowing out the next highest in Kyler Murray at 181.3.

Physical Traits:

It’s not just Tua’s elite football IQ that makes him such a great prospect, but his physical abilities as well. Tua Tagovailoa is a precision thrower, he has pinpoint accuracy. He has a lightning-fast release. He can throw from either a stable stance or off-platform. If the pass isn’t there he can take off and either throw on the run or beat you with his legs.

Many question his arm strength saying he relies too much on short and intermediate passes. While Alabama certainly took advantage of the opportunities in these short to mid-level slant passes (which he was deadly accurate at), Tua proved throughout his career he could effortlessly complete passes at all levels.  On the Move The Sticks Podcast Trent Dilfer said that many quarterbacks struggle with twitch and power. Some have twitch but lack power, while others have the power but lack the twitch. He claimed though, “Tua is the ultimate combination of both.” also stating “I have personally never seen a prospect as good as Tua.”

Intangibles:

A quarterback cannot be a great prospect if he does not display intangibles. So where does Tua land here?

Coachability and work ethic?

It has been said by teammates, coaches, his parents, friends, and many others who have been around him, Tua is one of the most humble guys they have ever met. When he came to Alabama he sat behind Hurts and soaked in everything, even though he was more than capable of coming in as a freshman and taking over right away. In the same Move The Sticks interview Trent Dilfer said when Tua was in high school he was at the Elite 11 regionals in May. Dilfer called him out for not being very disciplined. Tua went home and studied with his dad on what it really meant to be a disciplined quarterback. One month later, when he came back for the finals, Tua had totally changed.

The next intangible trait Tua Tagovailoa possesses is his mental toughness and poise. Tua has never let an interception or bad throw rattle him or make lose confidence. Everyone remembers the dime Tua threw to the corner of the endzone to win the National Championship his rookie season. His first SEC match-up (also as a freshman) he made this incredible throw with pressure all around him.

Moxie &  Competitiveness

One might wonder, if Tua is as humble as many claims, how would he have moxie and extreme competitiveness? In the Move The Sticks Podcast referenced above, there was an interview of Tua’s parents, Diane & Galu Tagovailoa. Galu mentioned the day before the 2017 National Championship that Tua asked his parents “Are you guys ready for your lives to change”. Tua knew he would not be the starting quarterback in this game. He was simply expressing to his parents his readiness if called upon. And that he had all the confidence in the world that he had what it took to lead his team to a win. That is exactly what happened. After being held scoreless in the first half, Tua entered the game and brought the tide back. Thus launching himself and his family into stardom.

In less than three seasons Tua Tagovailoa, with his high football IQ, physical skill sets, and intangible qualities would smash both Alabama and national records. Alabama’s teams’ strength would go from being the defense to the offense. He showed that he is not simply a product of a good system and playing with NFL caliber teammates. Rather a truly, incredibly, highly talented, quarterback prospect. A prospect, who if he stays healthy, can rival to be among the NFL greats of this time.

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2 Comments

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Sherone

August 9, 2020

Can’t wait to see him take the field. Very well done article my friend!

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Eric Surprenant

August 9, 2020

Well done Dave! You could also have mentioned his natural leadership ability to command a huddle and a room. I’ve heard that said about him a lot

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