Sitting Tua Tagovailoa for a season is a popular debate among Miami Dolphins fans.
Some on the Miami Dolphins staff will recommend sitting Tua Tagovailoa for a year before he starts. Let Tua learn and grow before being thrown into the mix. And, of course, there are those who will recommend starting Tua right away. Get Tua as many reps as possible so that next year he’s ready to rock and roll.
There are examples of quarterbacks that have failed and succeeded by starting or sitting. I could go through the list, but a sample list is irrelevant. There is no way to prove your case one way or the other because the talents and team situations of past quarterbacks are vastly different. The question is what should we do with Tua?
Having watched 40 years of football, I believe there is a greater chance for a quarterback to succeed if they sit and watch for a period before starting. Let me start my explanation by looking at the factors I’m considering.
1. How good is the team around him? In particular: offensive line and running game.
1a. Does Poor running game + Poor offensive line + rookie QB = Disaster??
1b. Does Poor running game + Poor offensive line + rookie QB = Injured rookie QB??
2. How much mental fortitude does the player have?
2a. How much can he struggle without having his confidence permanently shaken?
3. How talented is he? How quickly can he learn the system?
3a. Is he so good that questions 1 & 2 won’t be a factor?
I think one of the major factors in deciding to sit Tua would be the offense around him. A halfway decent running game and a good offensive line (which the Dolphins currently do not have), is paramount to establishing the confidence and growth of a young quarterback. A good running game and the offensive line helped make Tannehill look a lot better than he did in Miami.
You can’t expect Tua or any rookie quarterback to put the offense on his shoulders and succeed. In the history of the NFL, has there ever been a situation where a rookie quarterback succeeded beyond belief with no running game and a poor offensive line? Uh, no!
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Let’s face it; a rookie quarterback will take more sacks and more hits period. Rookies don’t read the defense as fast, hold on to the ball too long, and don’t recognize some blitzes, etc. All of this only gets worse with a poor offensive line.
The Dolphins can’t risk Tua to an injury. We need to give Tua a better chance to learn the system, learn how to read defenses, and most importantly learn how to avoid unnecessary hits (aka injury) before being thrown to the wolves.
To all those who disagree with me, I ask you: How will Tua hold up being crushed by a blindside blitz he didn’t see coming? How will Tua hold up when his first read suddenly stinks and he has to pull the ball down and run? How will Tua hold up when opposing defenses know our running game sucks?
Mathew Stafford, Robert Griffin III, Sam Bradford, and Andrew Luck to name a few took a massive beating early in their careers. Look at where they are now; they are decimated by injuries. Does that sound like a good plan for an already injury-prone Tua? Tua: First-round pick to first contract career-ending injury… nice plan.
Now, let’s address Tua’s mental fortitude. Everyone who has ever played a sport knows that having confidence in oneself is paramount to success. Every player has gone through highs and lows.
I feel that quite a few quarterbacks lost the mojo they had coming out of college because of the situation they were thrown into. Maybe they never had the mojo, to begin with, or maybe after being pummeled into oblivion they were irrevocably damaged. No one will ever know for sure. However, I prefer not to test the depth of Tua’s mental fortitude behind an unproven offensive line and a historically inept running game.
In my opinion, Tua should sit for a good portion of the year. And, there really isn’t much that would change my mind.
But, as always, sometimes a player will surprise you. It is possible that Tua is so good, such a superstar, that everything I’ve mentioned above becomes irrelevant.
That would be a fantastic surprise! Go Dolphins! Go Tua!