Tua Tagovailoa is Miami Dolphins quarterback future despite benchings

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 26: Tua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins drops back to pass during the first quarter of a game at Allegiant Stadium on December 26, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 26: Tua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins drops back to pass during the first quarter of a game at Allegiant Stadium on December 26, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Tua Tagovailoa is still the future of the Miami Dolphins.

The Miami Dolphins coaching staff have benched quarterback Tua Tagovailoa twice this season, but he is still the future of the franchise at the most important position.

Tua Tagovailoa was a quarterback linked with the Miami Dolphins for an entire year before the team selected him fifth overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, but there have always been two factions in the debate – some that believe he’s the second coming of Marino, and some that doubt his ability to be the franchise guy.

This second faction has been particularly vocal since the Dolphins benched Tagovailoa for the second time this season, seeing veteran gunslinger Ryan Fitzpatrick pull off an astounding pass to give kick Jason Sanders the best chance of edging out a victory over the Las Vegas Raiders.

The Dolphins won the game 26-25 thanks to Fitzpatrick’s heroics, giving the team a 10-5 record with a serious chance of making the playoffs in Week 17, where they take on the Buffalo Bills – who will be likely to rest key starters since they have already clinched the AFC East title.

The win, however, has heated up the debate over Tagovailoa and his future as the team’s starting quarterback, which head coach Brian Flores has already named him for the Week 17 matchup.

The former Alabama Crimson Tide superstar has been inconsistent throughout his rookie season, with three games where he passed for less than 100 yards, and three games where he has at least thrown for 245.

He has completed 65.1% of his passes this year, for 1453 yards, ten touchdowns and just two interceptions, holding a record of 6-2-0 in the eight games he has started, albeit seeing two of them finished out by Fitzpatrick, who has a 4-3-0 record in the seven games he has started.

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Before the season began, there were plenty of questions around whether or not Tagovailoa would even see the field at all this season, so it is surprising that he has managed to play in as many games as he has, playing a part in the team’s impressive season.

While the victories have predominantly come as a result of an exceptional defense, the young passer has shown flashes of what he is capable of and what he will undoubtedly provide the Dolphins for many years to come.

Inconsistency is expected out of a rookie quarterback, especially one that missed half of his final year of college through a serious injury that raised the initial questions on his ability to play during his debut NFL season.

Expectations have, again unsurprisingly, skyrocketed thanks to the Dolphins’ strong performances this year, overturning their 5-11 record from 2019 into a winning season, putting them on the verge of a playoff berth, but this should not have been the case where Tagovailoa was concerned.

He is young, 16 years younger than Fitzpatrick, and has plenty to learn about reading NFL defenses and making plays at the professional level, something that will come in time and with a full, ordinary off-season, something that he did not completely have thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Ryan Tannehill was the last rookie quarterback to lead the Miami Dolphins, back in 2012, and by comparison, Tagovailoa is already looking a better bet to have more success with the team.

In Tannehill’s rookie season, he threw for 3295 yards, 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions across a full 16 games. If Tagovailoa performed at his current level for a full season, he would have 2906 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

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Yes, some of his decision making needs work and he needs to learn to get the ball out of the pocket faster, but those are things he will learn to do and grow into, and it is clear that he will be the Miami Dolphins’ starter for the foreseeable future.

Patience is needed, even though the team as a whole has made a giant leap forward in Flores’ second year, but the doubts over Tagovailoa are not necessary and the proof will be in the coming years, not an eight-game sample during his rookie campaign.