Tua’s struggles continue against Chargers, Dolphins fall second straight game 23-17

Tua Tagovailoa disappointed after a three-and-out by the offense. (Photo courtesy of the Miami Dolphins)

Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins’ offense continued their poor play against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football. 

Miami dropped to 8-5 on the season and will now enter a vital week with an upcoming Saturday night matchup against Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills.

Up to this point of the season, it could be argued that the Dolphins have overachieved. With big wins against teams like the Ravens and the Bills, Miami’s players found themselves in a prime position to finally make it back into the playoffs and possibly compete for a championship this season.

After returning from the bye week, Mike McDaniel and the Dolphins knew the toughest part of their schedule would be this current three-game stretch in which they are currently in. With a loss to the San Francisco 49ers and now the Chargers, Miami could very well lose all three which would be the second three-game losing streak this season.

With a perfect chance to redeem last week’s performance, while at the same time proving that the Dolphins made the right decision drafting him, Tagovailoa played one of the worst games of his career. 

Here are some takeaways from Miami’s disappointing loss on Sunday:

The offense has been night and day from earlier in the season

For the second straight week, Tagovailoa and the offense have played extremely underwhelming compared to the standard they have set for themselves. 

Tagovailoa’s accuracy struggles continued in this game going a mere 10 of 28 for 145 yards and a touchdown. That is just a 36% completion rate for a quarterback who has prided himself on his pinpoint accuracy in the past.

The poor game from the former Alabama star comes at the worst possible time with the former sixth-overall pick, Justin Herbert, quarterbacking the opposing team. The Herbert-Tagovailoa debate is all but over after the Chargers’ QB dominated from start to finish and ended 39 of 51 with 367 yards and a touchdown in the contest. 

Tagovailoa only managed to connect with five of the seven different receivers he targeted in this matchup. Tyreek Hill led the way as he usually does with four receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown. Hill also managed to break the Dolphins’ legend, Mark Clayton, single-season receiving yard record in this game.

McDaniel was hesitant to run the ball for the second straight week, likely due to the Dolphins trailing for the entirety of the game. Additionally, Jeff Wilson Jr. left this game early due to a hip injury and could not return. Raheem Mostert led the team with 11 carries for 37 yards – not the strongest performance by any means. 

This game should serve as a wake-up call, particularly for McDaniel and Tagovailoa. 

The rookie head coach needs to adjust when his quarterback is not playing well and can’t rely on some of the plays that have worked all season. At this point in time, Tagovailoa is not making a lot of the same throws we saw from him during the Dolphins’ dominant win streak. While last week’s poor performance was largely chalked up to the 49ers’ number-one-ranked defense, there was no excuse for how flat the offense came out in this game.

The Dolphins’ defense is not getting the support they need

Miami’s defense was not perfect by any means, but it certainly was the better of the two sides in Sunday’s loss. 

While Herbert’s big day looks good in the box score, the Dolphins did a great job making timely stops and limiting touchdowns despite giving up some big plays.

The Chargers’ receivers looked the most dominant with big games from Mike Williams, who finished with six receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown, and Keenan Allen who had 12 receptions for 92 yards. 

Miami’s secondary looked gassed in this game, and a large part was how little time the Dolphins’ offense was able to stay on the field. 

Los Angeles possessed the ball for 39 minutes and 38 seconds to Miami’s 20 minutes and 22 seconds. The defense was on the field nearly double the time that the offense had the ball, yet still made big plays and gave their team a chance to win.

The Dolphins’ pass rush shined yet again with four sacks and seven QB hits in this game. It will be important for Miami’s defense to continue this stellar play and hope that the offense can reciprocate the same for the Dolphins to get back in the win column. 

If Miami can’t turn things around it could find itself on the outside looking in once again

The Dolphins’ 2022-2023 season is shaping up to be one of the worst emotional roller coasters that the fandom has ever had to withstand. The team has been about as up-and-down as you could imagine with no rhyme or reason behind their play.

The inconsistencies Miami has shown are worrisome with just four games remaining in the regular season. If the season was to end today, the Dolphins would make it to the postseason. But each of the four teams they will play are gunning for a playoff spot themselves, there is certainly a scenario where the Dolphins fall short for the sixth straight season.

If Miami continues on the trajectory they have shown in the last two games, you can expect major changes this offseason. After so many major high points this season, to potentially miss the playoffs altogether would be a new low for this franchise that has disappointed its fans so many times over the years.

A turnaround is necessary now, and with another tough opponent on the road, it is hard to see it coming this week. The Dolphins have not won a game in Buffalo since 2016 and a win this week seems unlikely.

According to Weather.com, the weather in Buffalo during this game will be in the upper 20s with a possibility of snow. Miami will look to overcome their struggles from the last two games while playing in unconventional circumstances.

The Dolphins will look to sweep the season series against the Bills for the first time since 2016 this Saturday at 8:15 p.m. The game will be broadcast on CBS4 in South Florida.

Anthony Blanco is a senior majoring in Digital Journalism with hopes of pursuing a career in sports journalism. Anthony is passionate about covering sports and hopes to one day make his passion his profession.