Cognitive dissonance is a big problem in NFL evaluation. Because by any rational, dispassionate evaluation of the evidence, Tua Tagovailoa is the Miami Dolphins‘ MVP — if not the entire NFL’s.
And yet, some still aren’t willing to admit it — or give him the proper credit for the greatness he’s displayed, not just this year, but since Mike McDaniel took over as Dolphins head coach.
Call it stubbornness, call it willful disbelief.
But it’s not based in reason.
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Why Tua Tagovailoa Has Been Miami Dolphins’ MVP
Tagovailoa and Brock Purdy are the two best quarterbacks in the league this year, according to EPA+CPOE composite, yards per attempt, and passer rating. And in QBR, Purdy is first, and Tua is third.
But since they don’t have the arm talent of Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, or Justin Herbert, they are dismissed by many as system quarterbacks along for the ride.
That’s unfair and flat wrong.
Tagovailoa, yes, benefits from having McDaniel as his coach and Tyreek Hill as his WR1.
But here’s the truth: McDaniel and Hill benefit just as much from having Tua on their team — if not more.
Yes, Hill is on pace to shatter the single-season receiving yards record (Calvin Johnson, 1,964, 2012). But why shouldn’t the narrative be that Tagovailoa and McDaniel are able to get more out of Hill than Mahomes and Andy Reid ever could?
Hill, in 23 games as a Dolphin, is averaging 15.7 yards per catch, 109.7 yards per game, has a 70.3% catch rate, and goes for 11.0 yards per target.
During his six years with the Chiefs (91 games), those figures were: 13.8, 72.9, 67.7%, and 9.4.
He’s having his best season a few months shy of his 30th birthday — an age in which many of his peers have already begun their decline.
MORE: Miami Dolphins Need To Get Tyreek Hill’s Cramping Issue Under Control
But the data point supporting that thesis that Tagovailoa is more valuable than Hill to this team — other than the history of Miami’s offense falling apart in 2022 when Tua got hurt — is the following from SIS:
In the 247 snaps this year in which Hill has been on the field, the Dolphins have an EPA per play of .13 (.20 passing, -.01 rushing). In the 142 snaps this year in which Hill has not been on the field, the Dolphins have an EPA per play of .28 (.36 passing, .22 rushing).
We also have enough data to make an apples-to-apples comparison.
In the 19 games (inlcuding playoffs) in which Tua started since the start of the 2022 season, has Hill averageds 7.2 catches, 116.9 yards, and 0.7 touchdowns per game, plus 16.3 yards per catch.
In the five games Tua has missed, those numbers drop to 6.4, 74.2, 0.0, and 11.6.
We discuss that and look ahead to Sunday’s epic Dolphins-Eagles showdown in our Week 7 edition of the PFN Miami Dolphins Podcast.
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