"We're not trying to go out there and humiliate teams, that's just what it happened to look like."
Tua balled out for 309 yards and four passing touchdowns in the historic beatdown. But, that's just what he's been doing all season, so far. With a little help from Miami's unstoppable offense, Tagovailoa has established himself as the clear favorite in NFL MVP odds and everything points to him keeping it up:
Tagovailoa Surges Into MVP Spotlight
|Preseason||After Week 1||After Week 2||After Week 3|
Tagovailoa entered the season 10th in MVP odds, in the same tier as Aaron Rodgers (RIP), Justin Fields, and Deshaun Watson. In three short weeks, he's skyrocketed himself out of that third tier of talent and all the way to the top of the list.
It's pretty unlikely the Dolphins drop a few more 70-point games, so Tua will probably slow down a bit. But, his full-season pace has MVP written all over it:
We Should've Seen This Coming
Alright folks, hand up. I should've been all over this in the offseason because there were plenty of indications this Tua MVP season was coming.
Despite playing just 13 games last year, Tua finished ninth in MVP voting. If he played a full season he might've just won the NFL's top award last year, already. When healthy last year, the lefty led the league in touchdown rate, yards per attempt, yards per completion, passer rating, and adjusted net yards per attempt. As a passer, he was arguably the most efficient in the league. A numbers nerd like myself should've been all over Tua as a value MVP pick — I apologize for not banging the drum sooner.
And, almost more crucially than anything Tua himself has done, the talent around him is built for some crazy offensive numbers:
Dolphins Offense Is Built For MVP Production
Just look at the players around Tua: Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Robbie Chosen (Anderson), Raheem Mostert, and De'Von Achane. They're all talented, sure, but they're also all blisteringly fast.
Fins coach Mike McDaniel is an offensive savant. Stemming from deep within the Shanahan tree, McDaniel (when he's not cracking jokes at the podium) runs a pretty simple zone run offense with some west coast passing schemes — plus some occasional flair. When you add in the speed of all those offensive weapons and the efficient passing of Tua, sparks are bound to fly.
Mike McDaniel is just cooking up filthy play designs for Tua Tagovailoa.— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) September 24, 2023
The crowd gasp after the no-look was awesome.pic.twitter.com/esm4cIyGJk
In Tua's 13 starts last year, the Fins averaged 25.5 points per game. Through three weeks this year, they're up to 43.3. It doesn't take prime Tom Brady to rack up MVP numbers in an offense scoring that many points.
The Big Question
Alright, we do have to address the one concern that's holding Tagovailoa back from simply running away with this MVP race already: injuries.
If there's one thing that's going to stop Tua this year, it's not going to be the Patriots' defense or some untimely interceptions. It's the Injury Report. The 25-year-old hasn't started more than 13 games in a season through his first four NFL seasons. Dating back to his college days with Alabama, Tagovailoa has missed significant time with hip, rib, back, and concussion injuries. He's got a pretty lengthy injury history for a 25 year old.
However, there is reason to believe this is the season he stays on his feet. The Dolphins' offensive line entered the season seen as a well below average group, but through the first few weeks of 2023 they actually rank out as a top-10 unit. Through three games, Tua has been sacked just once. If the O-Line can protect Tua, and he can stay healthy, this year's MVP is his to win.