Chan Gailey is not a good offensive coordinator but Miami Dolphins fans shouldn’t be worried yet.
There are two Chan Gailey’s in Miami. There is the one that calls plays when Tua Tagovailoa is playing and there is one who calls plays when Ryan Fitzpatrick is playing. We saw the differences when Tua was named the starter during the bye week. We saw the difference when Tua was benched in the Denver game and we saw it against the Jets when Tua didn’t play and last night when in the 4th quarter Tua was pulled for Fitzpatrick.
Many Miami Dolphins fans complain about Gailey’s play-calling and I’m not one to call the kettle black because I am not a fan of his play-calling and game management but clearly there is a reason why Gailey calls the game one way for Tua and another for Fitzpatrick.
The simplest answer is that Tua Tagovailoa isn’t ready for more information. And it is information.
The playbook for Tua is simple. Dink and dunk passing with simple reads. Gailey is trying to put Tua in positions to make quick decisions that will not hurt the team. Game management decisions. It’s one reason we have seen Tua only throw two interceptions this year. He isn’t being put into a position to make mistakes but that also means he isn’t being put into a position to carry the team.
Tua himself admitted post-game that he needs to get the ball down the field and trust his receivers but he also said he will take what the defense gives him. He has to take what Gailey gives him as well.
Gailey can open his playbook with Fitzpatrick. That is why we say different routes from Gesicki and why we suddenly saw Myles Gaskin out of the backfield and down the field on his touchdown catch and run. It’s why the Dolphins’ air attack became vertical. This isn’t simply a matter of players suddenly getting a better play called in their favor or better routes. They are getting different reads.
Those plays are not suddenly better they are better designed with more quick reads and checks and Tua isn’t there yet. He can’t process the information that quickly just yet. That prediction of why the receiver is going to move to the right instead of the left depending on what the safety does or how the corner shifts. Fitzpatrick does that because he has seen it for 16 years.
Eventually, Tua will get there. He needs to find his own level of confidence and being able to attend off-season workouts and practices will do him a lot of good this year. Remember, the NFL had no off-season, and those hurt players like Tua who have had to learn the playbook from game film and shortened practices.
Miami doesn’t have to coddle Tua and had they started him in week one, he may have been put into a different position in terms of learning. If we look at Justin Herbert, he was put in a situation that he had to start and with the team not playing well, Herbert could sling the ball and take risks that really wouldn’t hurt the team’s chances in 2020. Tua took over a team competing for a playoff spot and at the time, the division. His job is to win games but also not to lose them.