MIAMI GARDENS — The way Dolphins cospanch Mike McDspanniel sees it, only about 5% or 6% of teams that have ever done anything worthwhile were able to do so without a very, very good quarterback.
So, yes, Virginia, win-loss record is a quarterback stat.
And, yes, win-loss record is a significant quarterback stat.
And, yes, Tuspan Tspangovspanilospan’s 13-2 record over his past 15 starts means something much more than just that he plays on a good team.
“You can lose games for your team at quarterback,” McDaniel explained Wednesday. “You can help win them. There won’t ever be a win that you can do it in spite of a quarterback, generally, because you know you hold the ball on every play.”
McDaniel appreciated the comparison I raised between a quarterback and a starting pitcher’s record in Major League Baseball. It’s not apples-to-apples, of course.
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But as McDaniel noted, a pitcher doesn’t really have control over run support. And a quarterback doesn’t really have control over the talent or production of his team’s defense.
But in the end, most games seem to come down to a third-and-7 in the fourth quarter.
And what quarterback do we want under center to make that throw in a critical game?
Right now, it would have to be Tua.
Tua is NFL’s best third-down passer
Tua leads the league in passer rating and third-down passer rating and he’s been outstanding in the red zone and in fourth quarters. In short, nobody has been better at the quarterback position through 11 weeks.
As has been noted since the pre-draft process and over the course of Tua’s first two seasons in the NFL, Tagovailoa is not the tallest quarterback or the strongest-armed.
But when the Dolphins drafted Tua it was with the notion that he possessed “winning” intangibles that they could foresee translating to the NFL.
Leadership. Poise. Demeanor. Decision-making. A clutch gene.
All that is there. Tagovailoa is not the physical specimen that Justin Herbert of the Chargers is. But, yes, Tagovailoa’s staggering performance in 2022 has tweaked the narrative about Miami’s apparent miss.
We can’t say how Herbert’s career will play out. He has tremendous physical tools. But it is fair to point out that Herbert does have a career record of 20-22 as a starter.
And Herbert does not stand alone with his losing record.
Former first-overall pick Kyler Murray is 25-29-1.
Former first-overall pick Baker Mayfield is 30-35.
Do those quarterbacks make their teams patently better? Are those the types of quarterbacks with the ability to will their teams to victory? It seems Tua is.
It’s foolish at this point to dismiss the notion that Tua is a “winner.”
McDaniel was an assistant at San Francisco last season. There, the organization tried to draft Jimmy Garoppolo’s replacement, even though he had led them to a Super Bowl.
Maybe they shouldn’t have.
Maybe Garoppolo’s 38-17 career record is proof that, yes, he is a good fit for the 49ers’ scheme. Maybe the record is evidence enough that, yes, he lifts his teammates.
With Jimmy G under center, the Niners certainly produce enough yards and points and wins.
What’s more important than that?
Why should the Ravens pay Lamar Jackson? Well, perhaps because they’re 44-15 with him under center.
This is not an irrelevant statistic. And, yes, I know there are some advanced metrics that teams take into very, very serious consideration when determining who to play and who to pay.
There are some who will suggest that Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average and Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement and Expected Completion Percentage are far more revealing statistics.
And, yes, we’ll take all those numbers into consideration, too.
On Wednesday, Tua said he believes win-loss record is a team statistic, not really a quarterback statistic. But he did acknowledge pride in the 13-2 streak.
Tua has great humility. And so we’ll go ahead and give him the credit he deflects.
Tagovailoa is just the latest proof there’s more to success than a physical tool set. Maybe the guy who wows at the pre-draft workout (see: Zach Wilson, Jets) can get benched because he isn’t bringing many or most of the aforementioned intangibles.
And yes, Wilson was 5-2 as a starter this season for the Jets.
So, yes, perhaps it’s fair to say New York was one of those rare teams winning despite very sub-par quarterback performance.
The most elite of quarterbacks produce outstanding statistics … and outstanding win totals.
See Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.
Those players are at or near the top of annual passer rating statistics and also have led their teams to perennial success. Miami hopes Tua can be that type of player. He’s begun to show he may be able to live up to his status as a fifth-overall selection.
It was understandable that the Dolphins once seriously considered a trade for Deshaun Watson, who trails only Mahomes in career passer rating. Watson’s talents are indisputable.
But it is also true that Watson has a career record of 28-25.
Is much of that mediocre mark surrounding talent? Of course.
Is much of that poor coaching? Yes.
But it is true, and relevant, that even the uber-talented Watson was 4-12 in his last season as a starter.
McDaniel says QBs involved in everything
McDaniel smartly notes many under-discussed reasons why the quarterback is the most important player on the team. Ever think about how even a run can be affected by the quarterback’s footwork or cadence?
Have you thought much about how the quarterback is often tasked with accepting blame — even unfair blame — in order to protect teammates? Zach Wilson of the Jets probably has this week.
Tagovailoa, to his credit, said over the course of his first two seasons in the NFL that he needed to be better and could be better. He did not make excuses and he did not point fingers, even when he easily could have.
And now the Dolphins and Tua are reaping the benefits.
Will it be defining, in part, for Tua to perform well in late-season, possibly cold-weather games at Buffalo and at New England? Yes. But Tua has been knocking down obstacle after obstacle and doubt after doubt this season.
This year, everything has aligned splendidly for Tua. The right coach and play-caller. The right wide receiver addition. The right additions at left tackle and center. The right scheme.
But it’s also true that Tua has been among the NFL’s top winners since his arrival.
In the past 10 seasons, Tua’s .690 winning percentage is tied for fourth among QBs making their first 29 career starts, trailing only Lamar, Garoppolo and Mahomes.
Is Tua the biggest reason for Miami’s 20-9 record in games he’s started? Yes.
Is it a coincidence that Miami is 7-0 in games Tua’s started and finished healthy this season and 0-3 when he hasn’t? No.
“When you’re playing at a high level for your team, you can have as big of an impact as any person that relates to the Miami Dolphins, player, coach or anybody,” McDaniel said of the quarterback. “By nature, you have as strong an impact as any possible person. It’s the biggest percentage piece of the pie.”
So, is win-loss record a quarterback stat?
It clearly is.