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Mile High Morning: Evaluating rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa as the Broncos prepare for #MIAvsDEN


The Lead

As with any rookie who has started just three games, the book on Tua Tagovailoa has yet to be written.

So far, though, it is promising.

The rookie Dolphins quarterback has led Miami to three wins in part by completing 63.6 percent of his passes and throwing five touchdown passes and no interceptions. However, his yardage numbers have not been as astounding — just 170 yards per game since he landed the starting job.

But that doesn't mean he's been disappointing in any way.

"I think he has good command of what they're doing offensively," Head Coach Vic Fangio said Thursday. "I think one of the reasons his numbers aren't so high is they've had a lot of short fields. They got way ahead of the Rams quickly. They've had some unusual games in that regard where they weren't throwing it a whole lot."

Fangio then described why he thinks Tagovailoa has a bright future ahead of him.

"He's got a really quick release, he's accurate, obviously he's got the athletic ability and he can be a scrambler," Fangio said. "He's elusive in the pocket, but I think the one thing is that he's running their offense very, very efficiently."

The Dolphins have been particularly good in the red zone with Tagovailoa as starter. In those three games, they've scored touchdowns on eight of 10 of their red-zone opportunities. That rate is third in the NFL among teams over their previous three games.

"Tua has been lights out in his first three games," OLB Bradley Chubb said Thursday. "He's 3-0 and it's been fun to see him come from Alabama while having such a good story and doing well now. Our preparation hasn't changed. We have to go out there and look at him like any other quarterback and try to disrupt him as much as we can as a front seven and get our hands on the ball in the back four as much as we can."

That could be the key for Denver's defense. Though there's not a ton of tape on Tagovailoa, so far pressure seems to have affected his play. Pro Football Focus says he completes just 52.9 percent of his passes and has a passer rating of 71 when he's under pressure, compared to 66.7 percent and a 114.4 rating when he has been undisturbed.

After failing to get a sack or a turnover against the Raiders, the Broncos will have to bring the heat to try to force mistakes from the Dolphins' talented rookie.

Below the Fold

Looking ahead to the offseason, ESPN ranked the top 25 free agents or players who could be available. Justin Simmons comes in at No. 5, but Jeff Legwold predicts he'll stay in Denver. "Simmons is an important part of the defense, a calming voice in the locker room and an enormously active player in the community," Legwold writes. "There really is no downside for the Broncos to get a deal done."

The Unclassifieds

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