The Miami Dolphins have great players and are an average team. They can score on any play, and yet they’ve now lost four straight games.
And while there was plenty of blame to go around in Sunday’s 26-20 collapse against the Green Bay Packers — special teams, turnovers, penalties, to name three — no one deserves nearly as much as Tua Tagovailoa.
He had his worst half of the season — and arguably his career — at the worst possible time.
Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins In Tailspin
Tagovailoa threw interceptions on the Dolphins’ last three possessions — and all three were directly to Packers defenders.
One might have been excusable — there seemed to be a miscommunication with running back Raheem Mostert on the second of three — but the first and last were absolutely dreadful. His accuracy vanished at the game’s most critical moments.
As a result, the Dolphins are losers for the fourth time in as many December games — and Tagovailoa seems to have regressed, reverting back to the unreliable quarterback of seasons past.
“It was terrible how everything ended,” Tagovailoa said after the game. “Like I told the guys, that’s on me.”
During the four-game losing streak, Tagovailoa has completed just 52.6% of his passes with six touchdowns, five interceptions, and a passer rating of 80.6. That latter number is almost impossible to do when you average 8.5 yards per attempt, as Tagovailoa has during that stretch.
Granted, it takes a village to blow a double-digit lead at home. It took Aaron Rodgers — 24 of 38 for 238 yards and a touchdown — finding some of his old magic. But really, he was along for the ride. Green Bay’s defense forced four turnovers and a Jason Sanders missed field goal on the Dolphins’ last five possessions. That’s horrendous.
And what makes it all the more galling: They wasted fantastic individual efforts by Jaylen Waddle (five catches for 143 yards and a long touchdown), Tyreek Hill (four for 103), and Christian Wilkins (virtually unblockable for most of the game).
All the credit goes to the Packers for putting together a rally to save their season. They’ve won three straight after losing seven out of eight. And remarkably, they have a pretty clear path to the playoffs.
Any scenario of Green Bay returning to the postseason involves beating the Vikings and Lions in the last two weeks of the season. Fortunately for the Packers, both of those games are at Lambeau. Beyond that, they will need some help, but not a ton.
The Packers (7-8) are playing their best football of the year at the best possible time. The Dolphins — who have turned 8-3 into 8-7 — are playing their worst at the worst.
Teams that lose four games in December just don’t make the playoffs. But thanks to the mediocrity of the league, the Dolphins still have a reasonable path. They are in if they beat both the Patriots and Jets in the season’s final two weeks. FiveThirtyEight gives them a 2 in 3 chance of getting there.
But with the way Tagovailoa has played recently, even one win in the last two is far from a given. And it’s a disastrous turn of events for a franchise that has gone all-in on their young quarterback. They have no premium picks or cap space in 2023 with which to replace him. It’s Tua or bust for the foreseaable future.
“At some point, if we want to take the next step, we’re going to have to put up or shut up,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said.
Added Tagovailoa: “It’s easy to keep the confidence up with this group. We all believe in each other. We all love each other. … I don’t think it’s time for us to blink. We just move on and learn from it.”