A few weeks ago, we highlighted Tua Tagovailoa’s solid start to his NFL career. He hasn’t been spectacular by any means. But in 5 starts, he’s thrown 7 touchdowns and no interceptions. The Dolphins are 4-1 in those games. In Week 14, the challenge gets tougher for Tua, as Miami takes on the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs.
Steve Spagnuolo’s defense has been aggressive all year. They love to blitz and aren’t afraid to do it out of Cover-0 looks from anywhere on the field. What do you need as an offense to handle Cover-0 blitz? A good and experienced offensive line. A quarterback who can decipher the look and understand where the free rusher is coming from. Receivers who can consistently win 1-on-1 matchups. For the most part, the Dolphins have none of that.
The offensive line is young and inexperienced. Miami’s weapons don’t exactly scare you. That’s a recipe for defensive coordinators like Spagnuolo to feel comfortable leaving their defenders in 1-on-1 coverage and bringing the house.
And speaking of inexperience, Tua will be making just his 6th NFL start. Last week, we saw the Bengals take advantage in the same way we expect Spagnuolo and the Chiefs to this week. The below play was 3rd-and-3 from Cincinnati’s 48-yard line. You can see the look – pressure and no deep safety. Cover-0 blitz.
The Dolphins had 6 men to protect. If all 7 defenders on the line of scrimmage came, they could not pick them all up, leaving Tua responsible for handling the free rusher (#24 Vonn Bell on the left) with a quick throw.
The Bengals would bring all 7 initially to occupy each offensive lineman before linebacker Logan Wilson (#55) eventually dropped out.
Tua did not appear to recognize that Bell was his responsibility. If he did, his urgency did not match the situation. The result was an incompletion, but it could have been far worse. He’ll need to be more aware than that against Kansas City.
The Chiefs will not make life comfortable for Tua on Sunday. All indications are that he and the Dolphins Offense will struggle. That’s why they play the game, though. I am excited to see how Tua responds.
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