Tua Tagovailoa didn't collect any style points in the Miami Dolphins' 17-16 win over the New England Patriots this past Sunday in Foxboro. He completed 16-of-27 passes for only 202 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception.
But style points are irrelevant in the NFL, especially for a rebuilding franchise. Dolphins veteran defensive back Jason McCourty has been impressed with Tagovailoa's development and leadership since the start of training camp.
"What I've enjoyed watching and being in the locker room with him is just who he is as a person - beyond throwing a touchdown or calling the offense," McCourty told the "JR SportBrief" show on Tuesday. "To play that position, you need some of the intangibles - the ability to have a bad play and come right back the next series and drive the offense down and make a play...
"Those are things we sometimes sweep under the rug or don't talk about as much. But being that even-keeled person, through the ups and downs, you're still going to continue to show up. For me, in my time there, that's what I've seen from him. He's only in his second year, still a young player. When you say, 'Oh, he hasn't proven himself,' we all have to..."
Miami drew first blood against New England midway through the first quarter, as Tagovailoa scored on a three-yard keeper to cap off a 10-play, 80-yard drive. Midway through the third quarter, with the score tied 10-10, Tagovailoa connected with wide receiver, and former Alabama teammate Jaylen Waddle for the go-ahead touchdown.
2020 was an odd year for Tagovailoa on the field. The 23-year-old started his first game in early November, won six of nine games in the role, and threw for 1,814 total yards with 11 scores and five picks. Tagovailoa also ran into issues with the playbook, and his ineffective play prompted head coach Brian Flores to bench him twice for veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Miami (1-0) will host the Buffalo Bills (0-1) in a Week 2 matchup on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium. According to FiveThirtyEight's projections, the Dolphins currently have a 63% chance to reach the playoffs, and a 39% chance to win the AFC East.
The entire football conversation between McCourty and JR can be accessed in the audio player below: