The Miami Dolphins need to stop benching Tua Tagovailoa.
For the second time this season, Tua Tagovailoa was benched in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick. If Miami wants to be good long term, they need to stop doing this.
The Miami Dolphins won a nail biter against the Las Vegas Raiders Saturday night and kept their playoff hopes alive. Even with the win, however, the team did not look as good as they have in week’s past on both sides of the ball. The struggles on defense, I believe, were more about just having an off day, as the team generally played well outside of two huge plays that this team doesn’t surrender often.
The offense is a different story.
Once again, Miami struggled to move the ball downfield throughout the entirety of the first half, with their first touchdown coming off of their first drive in the third quarter. This poor offensive outing resulted in Brian Flores benching Tua Tagovailoa for a second time this season, bringing in veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.
While I am happy that Miami was able to get the win and their shot at the playoffs remains intact, long term, this was a mistake.
Miami’s offensive struggles were not on Tagovailoa alone. The rookie undoubtedly made mistakes like holding on to the ball too long and not taking shots downfield. He has struggled with this all year and he needs to trust his receivers more. Wideouts won’t be getting open in the same way that he is used to from his Alabama days and he needs to be more comfortable throwing the ball downfield and trusting his receivers to make plays. The only way to fix those mistakes, however, is to get quality reps in at both practices and in the games. He can’t do that when he is on the bench.
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If the Dolphins believe that Tagovailoa is the future franchise quarterback, they need to stop pulling him out of the game when he and the offense is struggling. He needs the opportunity to pull himself out of poor performances and show if he’s capable of overcoming adversity. Even if he does become the franchise guy down the road, he is not going to be perfect at every moment of his career and he will need to learn how to overcome that on the fly.
Pulling the rookie quarterback makes the argument that the offensive struggles are all on him. They aren’t. As I said earlier, Tagovailoa took a sack or two that he shouldn’t have if he had just gotten rid of the ball on time. I will not debate that, because it’s accurate. Yet, the receivers gave Tagovailoa no help at all in this one. Yes, Fitzpatrick took a few shots that the rookie wasn’t taking, shots that led the team ultimately to victory. But how can Tagovailoa develop a report with is receivers without playing time? Remember, he didn’t have the same offseason as rookies in past years.
It also looked like the play calling was different when Fitzpatrick was in the game compared to when Tagovailoa was playing. Chan Gailey has to stop handcuffing his rookie quarterback and let him throw the ball downfield more often. With that type of play calling, there is no doubt that he is going to make mistakes, everyone does, regardless of how many years they have been in the league. But, limiting shots downfield is limiting this offense’s potential and slowing Tagovailoa’s development, which is not good for a team that believes him to be the answer at quarterback long term.
Miami’s victory last night showed that this team can win the games it needs to win and, sometimes, in an extraordinary fashion. Keeping the playoff hopes alive was important and fans, coaches and players should be feeling good after a win like this.
This benching of Tagovailoa is a problem, however, and needs to stop so that he can prove that he is capable of overcoming challenges, especially if Miami wants to make the playoffs with him at quarterback for years to come.