Tua Tagovailoa’s 2020 Miami Dolphins training camp preview

Drafted in round one, Tua Tagovailoa is the future for the Miami Dolphins.

After being drafted 5th overall in this year’s NFL draft, there is no question that Tua Tagovailoa is the quarterback of the future for the Miami Dolphins…..if he can stay healthy.

No Dolphins draft pick in the last 30 years is as polarizing as Tua Tagovailoa.  Some see him as “the next big thing” and the savior of the franchise.  Others believe he’s an overhyped, brittle player that will turn into the biggest bust since Dion Jordan.  What’s undeniable is that no player, rookie or veteran, comes with loftier expectations/hype than Tua does entering this season.

So who is Tua Tagovailoa?  Born in ‘Ewa Beach, Hawaii Tua is both supremely confident and totally humble.  Tua was the highest-rated ‘dual-threat quarterback’ according to ESPN’s rankings in 2017 but only the 57th ranked prospect overall when he signed with the University of Alabama.

As for Tua’s time in Tuscaloosa, it’s easy to forget that Tua backed up Jalen Hurts as a freshman.  Playing sparingly in only 7 of Alabama’s first 13 games, Tua didn’t attempt more than 12 passes in a game until the National Championship Game.

In that game, starter Jalen Hurts had completed just 3 of 8 passes for 37 yards, the offense was stuck in neutral and the Crimson Tide were trailing 13-0 at halftime.  Head Coach Nick Saban made the then-controversial call to bench his starter and play the freshman Tua.

While going 14 of 24 for 166 yards isn’t a ‘heroic’ stat line, Tua was able to throw 3 TD passes against the stingy Georgia Bulldog defense; including the 41 yard TD pass to Devonta Smith in overtime to win the BCS Title.

The next year, Tua was named the starter from the beginning of the 2018 season and cemented himself as one of the best quarterbacks in college football.  Tua completed 69 percent of his passes for nearly 4000 yards (3966 to be exact) and posted a 43-6 TD/INT ratio.  The end of the 2018 season was bittersweet for Tua, however, as he finished 2nd in the Heisman Voting and lost the BCS Title game to the Clemson Tigers.

Tua was on track for his best season at Alabama (33 TDs vs 3 INTs) until the serious hip dislocation/injury he sustained against Mississippi State in mid-October that ended his season.

Prior to the injury, there was a serious debate about whether it would be Tua Tagovailoa or Joe Burrow going first overall in the NFL Draft.  During the predraft process, suddenly pundits were questioning Tua’s durability beyond the hip.  Suddenly his sprained knee strained quad and having had surgery on both ankles meant Tua was ‘injury prone’.

Most Dolphins fans are grateful for the concern because it meant they didn’t have to move up from 5th overall to select Tagovailoa.

 

Expectations for Tua Tagoavailoa will be a ‘balancing act’.

One of head coach Brian Flores’ biggest challenges in 2020 is deciding when/how to use Tua Tagovailoa.  Should he start from the beginning?  If not, when do you bring him, if at all, to gain some NFL experience?

The fair thing to do would be to start Ryan Fitzpatrick and have Josh Rosen and Tua fight it out for the backup spot.  However, the NFL doesn’t operate based on ‘fair’.  Unless Tua suffers an injury setback, there is little chance that Josh Rosen could win the backup job over Tua.

The expectations for Tagovailoa should be to get acclimated to life in the NFL and take over the starting job from Fitzpatrick at some point this season.

The Dolphins selected the “QB of the future”.  We shall watch together to find out when the future begins and hope that the “age of Tua” doesn’t crumble like his hip did last year.

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