Data from stats don’t lie. It’s math and has proven over time to be accurate. Data from stats reveal that Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was a legitimate top ten NFL quarterback in 2021. For anyone counting, Tagovailoa had 35 categories where he was in the top ten of all NFL starting quarterbacks. Those top ten categories are all positive, not the small sample size of negative categories from only 16.3% of bad passes he threw that his critics are cherry-picking from.
Here is where he ranked in each category, in order from one to ten.
Tua Tagovailoa’s Top Ten Rankings
Statistically Ranked First
RPO- Tagovailoa was the best RPO quarterback in the NFL in 2021. He had 847 RPO passing yards in 2021. That led the NFL, even though he didn’t lead in RPO attempts. He was third with 90 RPO passing attempts. The run-pass option was a scheme that fits Tagovailoa’s strengths. That is one of Tagovailoa’s strengths that transferred from college to the NFL.
Red Zone- Tagovailoa was the best red zone quarterback in the NFL in 2021. Tagovailoa had the best completion percentage in the red zone of any starting quarterback in the NFL in 2021. That completion percentage was 65.4%, which is a testament of his accuracy.
Clean Pocket Completion Percentage-When Tagovailoa had a clean pocket, he was the best quarterback in the NFL. He had the highest completion percentage among any NFL starting quarterback in the NFL when he had a clean pocket. Tagovailoa’s NFL leading clean pocket completion percentage was 76.3%. Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes was second and third.
Least Amount of Pocket Time- Even though this statistic is a reflection of the offensive line, it is a quarterback stat. According to Pro Football Reference’s Advanced Passing Stats, among currently active quarterbacks, Tua Tagovailoa had the least amount of pocket time in the NFL in 2021. According to Pro Football Reference’s definition, pocket time is the average amount of time a quarterback has to throw the ball from the snap before pressure collapses the pocket. Tagovailoa’s pocket time was 2.1 seconds. The pocket time is another stat that proves how elite Tagovailoa can be with his accuracy despite the circumstances.
Aggressive Attempts- Among all starting NFL quarterbacks, Tagovailoa led the NFL in having the most aggressive attempts. Those attempts were throws that are in tight coverage. Among his 388 passing attempts, he led the NFL with 19.3% of those passes being aggressive attempts.
Least Number of Batted Passes- Among all NFL starting quarterbacks in 2021, Tagovailoa had the least number of passes batted away. Out of 388 passing attempts, Tagovailoa had only one batted pass. No other NFL starting quarterback had that least number of batted passes in the NFL.
Number of Sacks- Out of all starting quarterback that started 10 or more games in 2021, Tagovailoa had the least number of sacks with 20.
Goal Line Passer Rating- Tagovailoa was tied with three other quarterbacks with five or more passing attempts that had the highest passer rating on the goal line at 118.8.
Goal Line Touchdown Percentage- When on the goal line, Tagovailoa was the best in the NFL among quarterbacks with five or more passes. Tagovailoa had the highest touchdown percentage on the goal line with five or more passes at 80%. Out of the five passes Tagovailoa threw on the goal line, four were touchdowns. He threw no interceptions at the goal line.
Statistically Ranked Second
Passes of 20 or More Yards- Even though Tagovailoa didn’t have the opportunity to throw the ball downfield much due to plays designed for only one receiver, he was extremely accurate when he did throw downfield. For passes of 20 or more yards, Tagovailoa was second in completion percentage by a very small margin. Tagovailoa’s completion percentage of passes of 20 or more yards was 48.3%, just behind Justin Herbet’s 48.4%.
Red Zone Sack Percentage- Not only was Tagovailoa the most accurate red zone quarterback with the highest completion percentage, but he was one of the best at avoiding sacks in the red zone. He was second with the lowest sack percentage in the red zone with only 1.8%.
Fourth Quarter in One Possession Games Completion Percentage- When it comes to quarterbacks in the clutch, Tagovailoa was one of the best in 2021. In one possession games in the fourth quarter, Tagovailoa had the second highest completion percentage at 76%.
Last two minutes of a half- Tagovailoa had the second highest completion percentage of any starting NFL quarterback in the last two minutes of a half at 69.2% in 2021.
When the Game is Tied- When the game is tied, Tagovailoa had the second highest completion percentage among starting quarterbacks in the NFL at 75.4%.
Statistically Ranked Third
RPO Total Yards- For a combined total yards of both RPO rushing and RPO passing yards, Tagovailoa was third in the NFL with 858 yards.
Red Zone Touchdown Percentage- Tagovailoa had the third highest touchdown percentage in the red zone at 28.8%.
Statistically Ranked Fourth
Fourth Quarter in One Possession Games Yards Per Attempt- In one possession games in the fourth quarter, Tagovailoa had the fourth most yards per pass attempt with 8.8 yards.
Second Half Touchdown Percentage- Tagovailoa played his best in the second half of football games. He had the fourth-highest touchdown percentage among starting quarterbacks with at least 150 attempts at 6.6% in the second half. Only Matt Stafford, Joe Burrow, and Aaron Rodgers were better.
On Target Percentage- Out of every passing attempt, Tagovailoa had the fourth highest on-target percentage of all NFL quarterbacks in 2021 at 80.1%. Herbert was third with 80.2%. For those counting, 305 passes out of Tagovailoa’s 388 attempts were on target passes.
Statistically Ranked Fifth
Play Action Pass Completions- Tagovailoa had the fifth most play action pass completions with 121.
Play Action Pass Completion Percentage- Tagovailoa had the fifth best completion percentage of play action passes at 71.6%.
Sack Yards Lost- Tagovailoa had the fifth least amount of yards lost by a sack in 2021 from quarterbacks with at least ten or more starts. Tagovailoa only lost 152 yards, an average of 12 yards per game played.
First Down Completion Percentage- Tagovailoa had the fifth highest completion percentage on first down among starting quarterbacks with at least 150 attempts at 72.1%
Least Amount of Bad Throws- Among starting quarterbacks with at least ten starts, Tagovailoa had the fifth least number of bad throws with only 62. That means only 16.3% of his passing attempts were bad throws in in 2021.
Statistically Ranked Sixth
Fourth Quarter in One Possession Games Passer Rating- In one possession games in the fourth quarter, Tagovailoa had the sixth highest passer rating at 116.8.
First Quarter Completion Percentage- Tagovailoa had the sixth highest completion percentage in the first quarter among starting quarterbacks with at least 85 attempts at 71.7%.
Red Zone Passer Rating- Tagovailoa had the sixth highest passer rating in the red zone at 101.3
Sack Percentage- Tagovailoa had the sixth least sack percentage at only 4.9%.
Game-Winning Drives- Game-winning drives are rare for quarterbacks because of the situation that involves them. A team must have a fourth-quarter or overtime drive that gives the team a lead that wins the game for a quarterback to qualify for the stat. Tagovailoa was tied for the sixth most game-winning drives in the NFL with two.
Statistically Ranked Seventh
Completion Percentage- Tagovailoa has proven to be one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the NFL. Out of every NFL quarterback that played the game in 2021, Tagovailoa had the seventh highest completion percentage at 67.8%.
Statistically Ranked Eighth
Playing Action Passing Yards- Tagovailoa had the eighth most play action passing yards with 1,375 yards.
Fourth Quarter Completion Percentage- Tagovailoa had the eighth highest completion percentage in the fourth quarter among starting quarterbacks with at least 85 attempts at 68%.
YPA in the Second Half- Tagovailoa was tied for the eighth highest yards per attempt in the second half among starting quarterbacks with at least 150 passing attempts at 7.6 YPA.
Statistically Ranked Ninth
Touchdowns in the Second Half- Tagovailoa was tied with the ninth most touchdowns with 11 touchdowns in the second half of a game among 17 quarterbacks that had 11 or more touchdowns in that second half.
AFC Passer Rating- Tagovailoa had the ninth best passer rating in the AFC with 90.1.
Contrary to popular belief, Tagovailoa has been an elite top ten quarterback in several categories. Amazingly, Tagovailoa achieved all of those stats with unfavorable circumstances. Now, with improved health, a supportive coaching staff, and an improved offensive line, Tua Tagovailoa is poised to become one of the most dangerous quarterbacks against opposing NFL defenses in 2021.