(CBSMiami)- Two starts in, two wins for Tua Tagovailoa as the Dolphins quarterback. More importantly, it’s been easy to see growth in his play week over week. After completing just 12 passes for 93 yards in his first outing, he exploited the Cardinals defense to the tune of 248 yards and two touchdowns along with another 35 yards on scrambles.
His play against Arizona impressed The NFL Today’s Phil Simms who saw a lot of the same traits he saw in Tua at Alabama come to life in Arizona.
“Against Arizona, they game planned it perfectly. There was a lot of screens, a lot of quick throws, which he’s really good at. If you’re going to play tight man coverage, he loves throwing fades down the sideline. The other thing, he’s not an extremely mobile quarterback. But, he got out of trouble a couple of times running the football,” said Simms. “I would expect to see a lot of the same thing this week. I would expect him to have some success and probably open it up a little more where there’s more plays, the screen, fade, a trick play here and there, quick slant, to do more throws that he’ll have to read the defense find the guy and throw the ball down the field. He does have a quick release, compact motion and he’s extremely accurate with the football.”
The hope, of course, is that the improvement will continue each week and Simms sees plenty of opportunity for that as the Los Angeles Chargers come to town. L.A. ranks 21st in sacks (16) despite having two of the better pass rushers in the league in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. They’re allowing 27 points per game (21st) and have blown second half leads in each of their last four losses. A big reason why is what Simms calls the simplicity of their defense, which is why he believes Tua will have success on Sunday.
“For Tua, this is going to be a little bit like Arizona in a way. Arizona is not a good defense. This week, Tua’s going against the Chargers, they’re very simple. They do very little on the defensive side,” said Simms. “He’s going to come up and go ‘hmm same defense, same coverage here we go again.’ They’re locked into that. Let’s do one thing and do it really well and be fast. I really expect Tua to have a good game. To look a lot like maybe what we saw last week and have maybe a few more throws down the field.”
With eight games remaining, the Dolphins are in position to make their first playoff appearance since 2016. Their schedule lays out favorably with just three opponents left that current have records above .500 (Raiders, Bills, Chiefs). Their next four opponents (Chargers, Broncos, Jets, Bengals) are a combined 7-25. If the offense continues to open up as Tua gets more comfortable, there could be some mid-January football on deck.