The Miami Dolphins spent two seasons being linked to Tua Tagovailoa and when they drafted him last year, fans cheered while the media suddenly jeered. When Justin Herbert began playing like the Offensive Player of the Year, the Dolphins made a mistake.
With the NFL regular season, a memory no player has been seen this much vitriol as Tua Tagovailoa. Once a can’t-miss prospect, Tua has gone from the best the NCAA had to offer to a player that even the Houston Texans and some of the Miami Dolphins fans reportedly don’t want.
The question is why? Admittedly, I have never really been a fan of Tua. At least not on the level as most fans. When he was drafted, I said, “o.k., that’s my QB. Let’s go.” So what has changed in nine games? Some point to his mediocre play, others point to his benching. Not once but twice.
A report by Armando Salguero last week quoted anonymous Dolphins players who questioned whether or not Tua was the guy to lead Miami, why he was named the starter for 2021, and disappointment at him starting against the Bills.
There was a lot of condemnation of Ryan Tannehill early in his career. The locker room was reportedly torn, Joe Philbin, Jeff Ireland, and Mike Sherman reportedly had different thoughts on how to use him. Fans didn’t like him while others loved him. Even a former cornerback’s wife got into the destruction of the man’s character and locker room leadership.
Chad Henne was poked fun at as well. So have all the other QBs dating back to Jay Fiedler. Yet Tagovailoa was supposed to be the savior, the de facto leader for the next 20 years. Instead, after nine games, some fans are ready to toss him to the curb for the allure of someone with a bigger name and better resume. And when the name Deshaun Watson isn’t on their lips, some believe the Dolphins should draft a quarterback early.
What Miami needs to do, is continue to develop him. Find him bonafide weapons on offense at both receiver and running back. They need an offensive coordinator that is creative and plays to the strengths of the QB instead of waiting until the fourth quarter of a game.
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Tua Tagovailoa will be more than just fine. I expect him to be great. In the small sample size of this past season, I came away far more impressed than being left with a negative impression. When the offense opened up, he played really well. There is a lot to learn and unlike Herbert, Tagovailoa didn’t have top receivers to throw to. He threw to Jakeem Grant, Mack Hollins, Isaiah Ford, and yes, DeVante Parker who didn’t have as good a season as many hoped.
Tagovailoa had a suspect running back that was stuck behind a line that included three rookie starters. He took his licks and he got back up silencing those who thought his hip was now garbage. Tagovailoa has battled back at every stop along his career when he was told he couldn’t do something. He has turned it into motivation. Hopefully, all of this negative talk will turn to motivation. I suspect it will.
With a full off-season ahead, more than few months removed from his injury, and with a better offensive system and better supporting cast, Tagovailoa will be just fine and if the Texans don’t want him, good, I don’t want to give him to them anyways.