Steelers can’t underestimate QB Tua Tagovailoa and Dolphins offense

Tua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins throws a pass during the first quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders at Hard Rock Stadium on August 20, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)
Tua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins throws a pass during the first quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders at Hard Rock Stadium on August 20, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Steelers need to keep up the same defensive intensity against Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins on Sunday Night Football. 

The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a massive upset win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Now Mike Tomlin’s team will try to keep this same energy as they travel to Miami to face the Dolphins on Monday night football in Week 7 — a game that will prove to have big implications for both teams.

After starting the season 1-4, Pittsburgh was incredibly fortunate to avoid their fifth straight loss. Though 2-4 isn’t where they would like to be sitting at this point, they are remarkably just one game behind the lead in the AFC North right now, and it’s still anybody’s division.

The Dolphins have a lot to prove as well. After starting the season 3-0, they have since lost three straight games — including a 40-17 blowout loss to the New York Jets. It’s for this reason that Miami fans are thrilled to be getting Tua Tagovailoa back.

Tua left early in Week 4 against the Bengals after receiving a concussion when the back of his head hit the turf on a sack. After sitting out the past two weeks, the Dolphins starting quarterback and former first-round pick has been cleared to play this week and is expected to suit up against Pittsburgh.

Though some may view the Buccaneers as a more formidable opponent, the Steelers have to be sure not to underestimate the Dolphins in Tagovailoa’s first game back from his concussion.

Steelers can’t underestimate Tua’s impact on the Dolphins

I know both fans and the media have been hard on Tua Tagovailoa early in his NFL career. They often poke fun at his lack of elite arm strength and like to highlight plays where his pass is off the mark. However, there’s no denying that he was playing excellent football prior to his concussion.

In his first three games, Tua combined for a whopping 8 touchdown passes with just 2 interceptions. The young quarterback currently leads the NFL with 9.0 yards per attempt and 9.2 adjusted yards per attempt — both outstanding numbers. These spectacular passing performances helped lead the Dolphins to 27.6 points per game over their first three contests and victories over the Patriots, Ravens, and Bills, via Pro Football Reference.

Over the past three games for the Dolphins, Tua played just 25 snaps against the Dolphins (39 percent) and was obviously out the past two weeks. In these games, Miami scored just 16.0 points per game and, over the past two games, they haven’t surpassed 187 passing yards.

Coming back from injury, Tua may not be as sharp as he was early in the season, but he will certainly be a step up from Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson — two players who couldn’t muster up much of anything in his absence.

The three-game sample early in the season is small, but it shows just how much the Steelers need to respect Tua and this Dolphins offense. Tagovailoa will be aided by one of the fastest wide receiver duos we have ever seen in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. These two have combined for 487 yards after the catch in 6 games this season. For some perspective, the entire Steelers offense (receivers, running backs, and tight ends) have combined for 481 yards after the catch in the same number of games.

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Pittsburgh’s defense did an outstanding job against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in Week 6, but they need to be aware of how much firepower this Dolphins team has and how much of an impact Tua Tagovailoa can make in his return. They can’t underestimate this offense on Sunday Night Football.