The NFL had gone five seasons since its last left-handed quarterback before the Miami Dolphins handed the keys to their offense to Tua Tagovailoa. The rookie from Alabama has been a successful game manager thus far – and that’s no left-handed compliment.
Tua Tagovailoa has the Dolphins in the playoff hunt
Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores named Tua Tagovailoa as the starting quarterback in Week 8, sending journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick to the bench with a 3-3 record. Tagovailoa has made seven of the eight starts since, and Miami entered Week 15 squarely in the hunt for a wildcard berth in the playoffs.
It was a case of Tagovailoa being handed the keys to the Vespa than the car the first time out of the gate. He helped Miami defeat the Los Angeles Rams in his debut as a starter, but Tagovailoa was a modest 12-for-22 for 93 yards. Another of his starts saw him finish 11-for-20 for 83 yards.
He may not be slinging the ball the way fellow rookies Joe Burrow, now out for the season with a knee injury, and Justin Herbert have been, but Tagovailoa has been effective. His 248 yards and two touchdown passes to beat Arizona in Week 9 was a pivotal moment to the Dolphins season.
Engineering victories against the Las Vegas Raiders and Buffalo Bills in the final two weeks to make it to the playoffs would give Tagovailoa valuable postseason experience that his fellow rookie QBs might not taste for at least a couple of years.
The Miami Dolphins rookie is an NFL quarterbacking rarity
Until the Miami Dolphins inserted Tua Tagovailoa into the lineup, the last left-handed NFL quarterback was Kellen Moore in the 2015 season. Moore’s body of work consisted of 779 passing yards, and he is now the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive coordinator.
Before Moore, there was Tim Tebow leading the Denver Broncos to a stunning overtime playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers following the 2011 regular season.
The paucity of lefties – especially hose of the magnitude of Steve Young, Jim Zorn, and Ken Stabler — playing quarterback has been a topic of conversation over the years. Theories behind the reason are all over the board, beginning with the reluctance to rewrite playbooks. Some have even suggested that the most athletic left-handers are steered toward the pitchers’ mound on baseball diamonds, where the path to the majors is easier.
And, lest anyone forget, NFL teams pay a premium for left tackles, whose No. 1 responsibility is to protect the blind side of the quarterback in the pocket.
Tua Tagovailoa throws lefty for a weird reason
There’s a reason that Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa does everything right-handed other than throw a football: He is a natural righty who was converted by his father.
Galu Tagovalia told Al.com that he is a lefty who just wanted another southpaw to play catch with when Tua was 3 or 4 years old.
“It just became fluent and he just grew into it,” Galu Tagovailoa explained. “That’s the crazy part about it. I never thought I could make him adapt to that. As we constantly kept putting the ball on his left hand, eventually he grew into throwing the ball with his left.”
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.