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Omar Kelly: Tua Tagovailoa is aware of there’s one other stage he should attain (and shortly)

The stakes have been raised, as a result of that is the time of the NFL season when the upper-echelon gamers and groups separate themselves from the remainder of pack.

Elite gamers typically shine when the playoffs are on the road, making a legacy that may exist longer than their careers.

That’s how stars are made, and you’ll sense that it bothers Tua Tagovailoa that he’s not considered as one but. And that he appears unsure if he, or his group is prepared for this second.

Tagovailoa’s current criticism of himself the previous three weeks jogs my memory of his essential evaluation of his rookie season, when he unfairly in contrast his play and understanding of the Dolphins’ offense as a rookie to that of Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was then a 16-year NFL veteran.

It was harsh and pointless.

Tagovailoa claims his father, Galu, is his hardest critic, however the apple clearly doesn’t fall too removed from the tree.

Keep in thoughts that in 12 months two of his profession, the Dolphins’ 2020 first-round choose has overcome just a few sequence accidents and unlocked the effectivity wanted to win within the NFL. Unlike a lot of his contemporaries from the previous three drafts, his 11-7 document as a starter proves that.

His return from a ribs harm sparked Miami’s turnaround from its 1-7 begin, fueling the Dolphins’ current string six straight wins heading into Monday night time’s nationally televised highway sport towards the New Orleans Saints.

Tagovailoa is main the NFL in completion proportion (69.9), and if that wasn’t adequate, his 67.1 profession completion proportion is the perfect of any quarterback by means of 20 video games in NFL historical past.

His yards per try common (7.1) is a shade beneath Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady (7.2), and an identical to Buffalo’s Josh Allen, one of many NFL’s cannon-armed quarterbacks, so the criticism about his arm energy and quick passing method has been silenced, for a minimum of one week.

Since coming back from injured reserve in week six, Tagovailoa had been one of many NFL’s finest fourth-quarter quarterbacks. He ranks first in fourth-quarter completion proportion (73.2), fourth in yards per try (8.4), sixth in passer ranking (113.2) and eighth in passing yards (593).

But right here comes the powerful half, as a result of he should lead his often struggling unit to victories towards harder opponents.

The Saints, Titans and Patriots, the Dolphins’ closing three opponents, are all within the hunt for his or her divisions and a playoff berth, so the stakes have been raised.

And it’s clear Tagovailoa realizes the extent of his play must do the identical.

That’s a part of the explanation he’s been nitpicking each facet of his sport, as he ought to contemplating there’s one other stage he can and should attain.

“I think there have been a lot of times where I could’ve handed the ball off where I didn’t. We could’ve [produced] a lot more bigger runs this year,” Tagovailoa mentioned this week. “I’ve been giving up premier looks so I pull it, and I throw it and we gain 6 or 7 yards. I think for me, just being 100 percent within my decision-making in the RPO world and it not being 85 or 90 percent.”

Monday’s sport might be telling due to the effectiveness of the Saints’ protection, which is coming off a shutout of Brady’s Buccaneers.

Miami’s operation must be crisp in a hostile atmosphere just like the Caesars Superdome, which is revered as one soccer’s loudest venues. That’s the one method the Dolphins can keep away from the pre-snap and communication errors that have been rampant in Miami’s 26-11 highway loss at Buffalo, which was Tagovailoa’s worst efficiency of the season.

Considering it’s the quarterback’s accountability to ensure all his gamers are within the correct spots and conscious of their task, Tagovailoa is aware of extra is required.

“We do understand that we got to get in the huddle [quicker]. I’ve got to get things communicated, whether it’s the personnel, and we’ve got to give ourselves as much time as possible [before the snap] so we have that much more room for error, so you’re not always playing with the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 shot clock,” Tagovailoa mentioned. “That is something that we’ve been working on communication-wise and also with signals.”

The finest strategy to change folks’s perceptions is to alter the narrative, and that’s what Tagovailoa and the Dolphins hopes to attain on this stretch.

Miami can’t afford to lose a sport, as a result of 10 wins is the one factor that may preserve Miami within the AFC playoff hunt the best way the convention is laid out.

That means every week is an elimination sport, and it’s on Tagovailoa to ensure his facet of the group performs their position, scoring sufficient factors to win.

“Guys need to be in the right spots,” Tagovailoa mentioned. “And I need to hit them when they are in the right spots.”

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