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Keytron Jordan / CBS Sports

The Dolphins play in Miami Gardens, Florida, but this season it might as well be Tuscaloosa, Alabama. On the field, for Tua Tagovailoa, that is. 

Given how productive and efficient Tagovailoa was before entering the NFL, attempting to recreate his collegiate environment was worth the difficulty in doing so. 

And because the Tuscaloosaian transformation for Tagovailoa's NFL surroundings wasn't easy, naturally it wasn't a one-man lift. It started with Dolphins GM Chris Grier, who first was brazen enough to hire a then 38-year-old first-time head coach with undeniable quirks and a penchant for dry humor. 

Then, in a two-day stretch, Grier signed stud left tackle Terron Armstead to a monster deal and traded for Tyreek Hill to pair with 2021 first-round pick, Jaylen Waddle. By the end of March, to Tagovailoa, the Dolphins orange probably started to take on a more crimson hue.

But the metamorphosis would only be theoretical until the games were played, when McDaniel would be put to the test as a play-caller. 

And nine games into the 2022 season, McDaniel's offense has been a mash-up of the attacks Brian Daboll, Mike Locksley and Steve Sarkisian deployed for Tagovailoa during his three seasons with the Tide. 

Check how strikingly similar the Dolphins' 2022 tendencies are to what the one-time Heisman Trophy runner-up experienced in college.


Avg depth of targetAvg time to throw Play-action rate% of passes thrown in under 2.5 seconds

Career at Alabama

9.8 yards

2.71 seconds

43%

48.8%

2022 with Dolphins

9.7 yards

2.54 seconds

45%

52.8%

What's even more, at Alabama, while throwing to four future first-rounders (and one second-rounder) at receiver and an eventual Round 2 tight end, 15.9% of Tagovailoa's attempts were 20-plus yards down the field. With the Dolphins in 2022, his deep-ball percentage is 13%, the sixth-highest in football among quarterbacks who've thrown at least 200 passes to date.

I scoured the film from Tagovailoa's final season with the Crimson Tide and compared it with what Miami's done offensively this season. And it's not as if McDaniel has copy and pasted the Alabama playbook. But the general ideologies match.

Miami even mimicked Alabama-esque offensive line play. Remember, the Dolphins' shoddy blocking unit was one of the key reasons many believed Tagovailoa would never take off in the NFL. 

Tagovailoa was pressured on 24.3% of his drop backs with the Crimson Tide. Entering Week 10, his pressure rate is 22.5% with the Dolphins. Amazing. 

Oh by the way, Tagovailoa has aligned with the Tide mutation in Miami. In 2018, the season that sparked the #TankForTua campaign, he completed 69% of his passes at an unprecedented 11.2 yards per attempt at Alabama. Right now, Tagovailoa's completing 69.9% of his throws at a league-leading 9.2 yards per attempt. 

Given the presence of the salary cap and the intense parity in the NFL, it'd be impossible for any team to recreate the talent advantages Tagovailoa had at Alabama. 

But the Dolphins set out to get as close as organizationally possible at the professional level and have succeeded in that endeavor. Their achievement has unlocked Alabama Tua.