Packers defense preparing for Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the NFL's only lefty QB, and the differences he brings

Kassidy Hill
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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GREEN BAY − Tua Tagovailoa has a unique distinction in the NFL. It’s not that the Miami Dolphins quarterback has the best passer rating in the league at 107.8 or leads all passers in average yards per completion (8.6) or even that he possesses the NFL’s second-best total quarterback rating (71.8), although all of those things are true as Tagovailoa makes a resurgence under coach Mike McDaniel. 

No, Tua Tagovailoa has the distinction of being the NFL's only left-handed quarterback. 

The Hawaii native is naturally right-handed, but spent his childhood under the tutelage of his father learning to throw from the left. While being a lefty in the NFL doesn’t necessarily set Tagovailoa up for a bigger pay-day, like it would in baseball, the intricacies that come from the different throwing motion do set him a part. 

“This is my first time ever playing a left-handed quarterback,” Green Bay Packers cornerback Rasul Douglas said Wednesday, ahead of the Packers' game Sunday at Miami.

At least one Packers defender has experience against a lefty and it’s due to facing Tagovailoa himself. 

At least one defensive contributor on the Packers has experience with a leftie and it’s due to facing Tua himself. 

“He’s the only left-handed quarterback I’ve ever faced,” rookie linebacker Kingsley Enagbare said. While at South Carolina, Enagbare played against Tagovailoa and Alabama in 2019. 

Tua Tagovailoa is the NFL's only left-handed quarterback. The Packers will face the dynamic Dolphins QB on Sunday.

So what does Enagbare remember about the differences in playing a left-handed quarterback? 

“Besides the fact that it looks funny?” Enagbare said, laughing. “I guess the blind side kind of changes from the (defense’s) right to the left. But for the most part it’s pretty much the same thing.”

The differences are little things, tendencies that can throw off the eyes at first as the play goes to the opposite side than the defense might be used to seeing. For those on the defense's front seven, like Enagbare, that means being cognizant from which direction to send pressure. 

“A rollout’s generally like this,” Enagbare said, demonstrating as he turns to his right, “so they open up their right shoulder. So he’ll most likely open up his left shoulder. That’s what I was saying, like the blind side, that kinda goes hand-in-hand, the blind side and the rollout.”

For those downfield, like Douglas and safety Adrian Amos, reading the quarterback’s eyes can be crucial. When facing a lefty like Tagovailoa, there are other signals on which they’ll have to rely. 

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"I guess tendencies is a little different, when it's lefties," Amos said. "When you talk about bootlegs and different stuff like that, where they can see. When you’re watching their dropback, if they're looking this way, they gotta turn the shoulders more. It’s just opposite when it comes to that. And then spin on the ball is different, but that’s more so with like receivers getting in a rhythm with a quarterback.”

Added Douglas, “It’s just gonna be different 'cause usually when I’m playing the left side of the field and the quarterback rolls out, I can kinda see the quarterback. But I’ll be looking at his back this week.”

Tagovailoa will be welcoming the Packers to Miami with a 24-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio, averaging 269.8 passing yards per game and 3 yards per rush. He’ll also be giving both rookie and veteran Packers defenders alike a new experience to work through: seeing the game in a mirror from a different point of view. 

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