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Friday, September 29, 2023

The Dolphins’ offense was a murals behind Tua Tagovailoa and Mike McDaniel

The Miami Dolphins despatched a message on Sunday.

Not simply to the remainder of the AFC East, however maybe the whole convention, and the NFL at giant.

They’ll be a harmful soccer workforce this season.

The Dolphins went to the West Coast and knocked off the Los Angeles Chargers in dramatic trend 36-34, getting a late minute landing go from Tua Tagovailoa to Tyreek Hill to take the lead. From there, the Dolphins protection sealed the victory, getting a pair of sacks of Justin Herbert on the Chargers’ ultimate possession to place the Los Angeles offense behind the sticks.

However the story of this recreation was their offense, and a quarterback who’s increasing that offense’s potential.

Schematic parts

As one may count on from Mike McDaniel, there have been schematic parts from the Dolphins offense that put Tagovailoa in advantageous conditions. Spacing parts was one such theme, as McDaniel discovered methods to place stress on the Chargers protection whereas placing Miami’s proficient receivers into holes within the protection.

One other theme? Motion, significantly on the snap. This is likely one of the schematic themes to observe league-wide this season, which we previewed in our intensive NFL Season Preview. McDaniel discovered methods to place receivers in movement on the snap that created issues within the Los Angeles secondary, and created alternatives for Tagovailoa and firm.

Take this primary instance, a completion from Tagovailoa to River Cracraft from late within the first quarter:

The Dolphins align with a decent slot formation on the appropriate, placing Cracraft on the skin and Erik Ezukanma on the within. Simply earlier than the snap Ezukanma goes in movement in direction of the sideline, and that attracts each the slot cornerback in addition to the skin CB.

That little bit of confusion from the protection creates house for Cracraft, and Tagovailoa hits him with a good looking anticipation throw within the second window for a stable acquire.

A good higher instance of this notion comes from early within the second quarter. McDaniel places Hill in movement proper earlier than the snap, and the speedy receiver breaks vertically on what seems to be a deep wheel route. However Hill then snaps off his vertical stem, slicing inside on a dig route in a variation of the Dagger idea:

Hill’s presnap motion provides him a little bit of a head begin, and that places stress on the cornerback who buys into the concept that the receiver goes deep. That offers Hill the power to win inside off his break, coming open over the center for Tagovailoa who hits him completely in stride for a 29-yard acquire. The timing is such that Hill is ready to not simply make the catch, however make the primary defender miss in house, resulting in further yardage after the catch.

These motion ideas assist make Tagovailoa more practical, assist get Miami’s receivers into house, and usually make the Dolphins offense extra harmful. For extra on the evolution of Miami’s movement ideas from final season, this video breakdown from Shawn Syed of Sumer Sports activities is effectively price your time:

However schematic parts had been only one a part of the story.

Tua Tagovailoa was the opposite — and larger — half.

A completely armed and operational Tua Tagovailoa

Tagovailoa was on his recreation Sunday.

The third-year passer accomplished 28-of-45 passes on Sunday for 466 yards and three touchdowns, together with one interception. However past the numbers is the place he accomplished these throws, and the way he accomplished them. Tagovailoa was 8-of-14 on throws of at the least 15 air yards, and on lots of his throws you noticed him show excessive degree quarterback traits.

We will cut up these into three common buckets, though there’s a large diploma of overlap: Pocket poise, anticipation, and accuracy.

Let’s begin with pocket poise.

Pocket poise and motion

Life as an NFL quarterback is difficult, an idea which we now have mentioned at size over time. With proficient gamers up entrance trying to put you within the hospital, athletic defenders within the secondary trying to pounce on any mistake, and devious defensive coordinators trying to idiot you so individuals like me write about your processing failures, it’s not a simple job.

Enjoying within the face of stress is a part of the gig, however athletic quarterbacks like Tagovailoa can create alternatives for his or her offenses because of a capability to maneuver within the face of stress, all whereas maintaining their eyes downfield scanning for alternatives within the secondary.

On this Third and eight play from late within the first quarter, watch as Tagovailoa escapes from a collapsing pocket whereas maintaining his eyes educated downfield:

Tagovailoa initially desires to throw left on this play, the place McDaniel has dialed up a nasty variation of the Smash idea with Jaylen Waddle and Hill. Waddle runs the nook route whereas Hill, understanding of the backfield, runs a wheel-stop route that operates just like the hitch in a Smash idea.

However with that lined effectively — and the pocket breaking down round him — Tagovailoa flushes to his left after which completely threads the needle to Braxton Berrios to maneuver the chains.

Tagovailoa dialed up two very spectacular throws within the face of stress within the fourth quarter, each transferring the chains on third-and-long conditions. The primary got here on a third and 15, and as soon as extra you’ll see Tagovailoa flushing to his left earlier than discovering Berrios downfield:

Tagovailoa initially desires to climb the pocket, however with that path blocked, he flushes to his left. He nonetheless has a defender in his face, so he has to fade away from Berrios on the throw. Even with all of this working towards him, he places the ball in an ideal spot to maneuver the chains.

Additionally, think about the state of affairs. Not solely is that this a Third-and-long state of affairs, however the Dolphins path 31-27 at the moment within the recreation. If Miami punts on the subsequent play, this recreation may prove otherwise.

As a substitute, the Dolphins would tack on a area purpose to make it a one-point recreation, and this big third-down conversion was a giant play on the drive.

Tagovailoa delivered one other large third-down conversion later within the quarter, once more displaying elite pocket motion. On this Third and 10. Tagovailoa is ready to climb the pocket, earlier than discovering Hill to maneuver the chains:

On second thought, climbing the pocket may be a flawed description. Tagovailoa is sort of in a useless dash right here, however he’s nonetheless in a position to not simply discover Hill breaking open exterior the numbers on the left, however he additionally hits him in stride.

It is a very troublesome throw, and he makes it look simple.

Anticipating the home windows

One other side of Tagovailoa’s recreation that was on full show towards the Chargers was his anticipation. The third-year passer was in a position to throw receivers open, and really feel voids within the protection and lead his teammates to security.

If you hear an analyst say that the “recreation is slowing down” for a quarterback, these are the sorts of performs that illustrate that time.

Take this play from late within the second quarter:

Working again Salvon Ahmed goes in movement out of the backfield, and in direction of the appropriate aspect of the formation, simply earlier than the snap. This presnap motion will get the Dolphins right into a 4×1 formation because the play begins, a beautiful schematic wrinkle from McDaniel. However as an alternative of focusing on Ahmed, Tagovailoa seems for Hill on a fast Bang-8 publish route. He anticipates the secondary lane completely, and splits a pair of defenders along with his throw.

When it comes to anticipating that window, take a look at the state of play when the ball is popping out of his hand:

Hill has but to clear that defender, however Tagovailoa anticipates the window, and leads his receiver to security. Lovely design, unbelievable really feel, and a giant acquire for the Dolphins.

Right here is one other instance of those concepts in motion from the third quarter:

As soon as extra you see motion on the snap — this time within the type of tight finish Durham Smythe — and an anticipation throw from Tagovailoa to Hill on a thin publish. Once more, Tagovailoa feels the protection right here, letting this ball go earlier than Hill clears the beneath defenders. The outcome? One other large acquire for Miami.

The QB’s big numbers on Sunday? Anticipation was a giant motive why.

Downfield handoffs

Should you boil down quarterback play to only a few phrases, it may very well be these: Throw the ball the place it must be thrown.

Tagovailoa did that extremely effectively on Sunday.

We will take a look at two examples. First is that this sit path to Berrios within the fourth quarter. The receiver is working towards the center runner in a Tampa 2 protection, and after sitting down over the center he begins to work exterior, away from that defender’s leverage.

However with the hook defender lurking on this zone protection, Berrios can not drift too far.

Tagovailoa makes certain of that:

The QB throttles Berrios down within the void between these two defenders, placing this throw in a completely excellent spot. If this go is left too far inside, or strays too far to the skin, both defender most likely makes a play on the soccer.

As a substitute, the Dolphins have a contemporary set of downs.

Then, the game-winning throw:

Tagovailoa couldn’t have put that throw in a greater spot if he walked into the tip zone and handed it to Hill.

Final 12 months, the Dolphins confirmed they had been gamers within the AFC.

However the workforce we noticed yesterday?

They may be greater than gamers. They may be contenders.

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