After his first Pepsi Rookie of the Week Award for the 296-yard passing day against the Bengals, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is up for the same honor following his Sunday showing against the Chiefs.
The rookie southpaw threw for a career-high 316 yards, two touchdowns and rushed for another. Through his first six games, Tagovailoa has nine touchdown passes compared to one interception with four wins and two losses on the resume. That level of production has garnered some praise for the 22-year-old commander of the offensive huddle, but it's the fine details in Tagovailoa's game that is impressing analysts.
Yesterday, on Top News, we covered CBS' lead color commentator Tony Romo's analysis on Sunday's broadcast regarding Tagovailoa's skill set. Romo referenced seeing fine details in Tagovailoa's game on tape leading up to Sunday, and it didn't take long for him to confirm the initial hypothesis live at Hard Rock Stadium.
"Watch Tua here," Romo said after Tagovailoa delivered an on-target strike on third-and-long. "Eyes right, eyes left, slide, move, look … you see that anticipation. It's really special when you watch it. He looks people off, he does a great job of getting through the progression."
Another heavy-hitter in the analysis realm offered thoughts akin to those of Romo. NFL Network's Brian Baldinger posted a five-minute clip to his Twitter timeline on Tuesday showcasing traits that he believes paints a bright future under center for Miami.
"It's like a Muhammed Ali punch. You don't even see it," Baldinger said of Tagovailoa's quick release.
Baldinger also refers to the ball location and throwing under the pressure provided by the system of Chiefs Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, which featured multiple rush packages.
"Steve Spagnuolo came after him with every piece of artillery he had. Blitzes, schemes, personnel, you name it," Baldinger said.
Before we hear from Dolphins coaches on Tagovailoa's game, Baldinger mentioned a pair of weapons at his disposal that helped the Dolphins offense drive the length of the field twice in the fourth quarter.
"(Gesicki) is going to be a big player in this offense for a long time," Baldinger said.
"That Lynn Bowden, by the way, that kid looks like a player," Baldinger added.
Baldinger continued discussing Tagovailoa's footwork and mechanics; a trait that was already polished upon entering the NFL, according to Dolphins Quarterbacks Coach Robby Brown.
"That was something I noticed watching him come out -- that he's kind of -- the natural mechanics," Brown said. "Those are the best ones -- they open the right way, arm angles are good, he throws with good arm angles. His mechanics, just from a base throwing, were pretty good when he got here."
On the season, when blitzed, Tagovailoa is 42-for-74 with 413 yards, six touchdowns and one interception, per Pro Football Focus. That's good for a passer rating of 94.0 when the defense sends more than four rushers after the quarterback.
Tuesday, Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey said he was happy with the advanced showing of his rookie quarterback with regards to dealing with a defense that ratcheted up the pressure.
"He saw things that you can't simulate in practice at that speed and handled it well," Gailey said. "That was encouraging from our standpoint to know that he's seeing things, understanding where to go with the ball and making plays when they're bringing all that pressure. That's not an easy thing to do for a young quarterback. That was a real positive for him. They turned up the pressure and he handled it."
Fans can cast votes for the Tagovailoa for Pepsi Rookie of the Week through Friday morning.
In the absence of DeVante Parker and Jakeem Grant (both exited the game with injuries and did not return), the depth of Miami's receiving corps was tested. Rookie Lynn Bowden Jr. produced career-highs in snaps played (59), targets (9), receptions (7) and yards (82).
Dolphins Wide Receivers Coach Josh Grizzard says Miami's emphasis on acquiring personnel with diverse skill sets helped the team prepare for contingencies and the contingencies to those contingencies.
"At this point in the season, it's very game specific on how those things adjust so (Bowden's) got a grasp of the whole playbook," Grizzard said. "Then, just saying here's the nuances of the game plan this week and then we always try to get those guys going on different positions as well in case something happened like this last week. He's kept his head down. Playing so many positions in college, it comes pretty natural for him to move around like that."
Mack Hollins made a name for himself in NFL circles as one of the league's premier special teamers. Pressed into duty on offense Sunday, he too registered a career-high 66 yards receiving.
Special Teams Coordinator Danny Crossman has his hand in many pots. With players from every position room on his kickoff, field goal, punt teams and return units, Crossman says calling on a team's depth is not exclusive to the Dolphins, but is something they are prepared for.
"Everybody deals with it. We refer to the trickle down," Crossman said. "You lose a guy on offense or defense, that's well known. But then obviously those guys are core guys for us, they have to go fill those roles. That's part of it. It's what we all signed up for. We had a nice stretch where we were pretty healthy and working and using the same guys week-in-and-week out, but this is part of it. It's what everybody is dealing with. You just have to try to find a way."
Running Backs Coach Eric Studesville is familiar with trying to find a way. The Dolphins top three backs in rushing this season were unavailable to Studesville and the Miami offense on Sunday. Seven players in Studesville's room have played at least 50 snaps this season. Despite the seemingly weekly change in availability, the moniker for the team, and for the running backs room, helps the Dolphins stay ready for anything.
"I'd love to tell you I haven't been through this before but I have," Studesville said. "We played in Kansas City one year (when I was in Denver) and I went through three backs in the first half … That comes to how we set up the room and that's that everybody has to be prepared for everything all the time."
While you're voting for Tagovailoa for Rookie of the Week, don't forget to cast your votes for the Pro Bowl. Help send your Miami Dolphins to the Pro Bowl.