Should the Dolphins be worried about Tua Tagovailoa and his playbook?

Tua Tagovailoa announced his intention to enter the NFL draft Monday, Jan. 6, 2020 during a press conference in the Naylor Stone Media Suite at the University of Alabama. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]Tua To The Nfl
Tua Tagovailoa announced his intention to enter the NFL draft Monday, Jan. 6, 2020 during a press conference in the Naylor Stone Media Suite at the University of Alabama. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]Tua To The Nfl /

During a conference call with media earlier this week, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said he didn’t know the playbook last year. Is that a cause for concern? Maybe just a pause?

There has been a lot in the media about Tagovailoa and how he will never become the player that the Miami Dolphins thought they were drafting. Some have taken it upon themselves to call out every little thing he does wrong. When he spoke to the media this week, he didn’t do himself any favors.

Our own Jeremy Klump saw it as a positive in his latest article and said that fans should be excited about the transparency. Should they really though?

Personally, I was never a fan of Tua coming out of college. That is well documented but I’m still considered by many to be a “Tua-Homer” that’s not the case but I do think we have yet to see even the tip of what he can become.

All of that being said, should Dolphins fans and the Dolphins be at least a little concerned? Yes, they should. I remember when Ryan Tannehill was shown his rookie season talking with Matt Moore on HBO’s Hard Knocks and didn’t know what teams were in the AFC East or the other divisions. Moore seemed shocked. Your starting QB saying he didn’t know the playbook? We should be shocked as well.

Tua Tagovailoa
Nov 8, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) passes the ball by Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Josh Mauro (69) during the first half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

Tagovailoa talked about how he wasn’t comfortable with changing the play at the line of scrimmage, even if he knew it wouldn’t work. He wasn’t comfortable “checking plays, alerting plays.” He said he was just trying to make it work. When the answers were followed up asking for more elaboration, Tagovailoa said this.

"“Actually, what I’m saying is that I didn’t actually know the playbook necessarily really, really good; and that’s on no one else’s fault but my fault. Our play calls were simple when I was in. I didn’t have alerts and checks whereas now, feeling more comfortable, I can kind of maneuver my way through these things now.” – Miami Dolphins PC transcripts."

This does confirm that when Tagovailoa was in the game, the play calling by Chan Gailey looked to be much simpler than it was with Ryan Fitzpatrick was in the game. Some have speculated that Tagovailoa’s comments were more or less not to throw Gailey under the bus but I don’t think that is the case.

As Dolphins fans we tend to overlook comments like these but as Brian Catanzaro or OnTheFinSide podcast points out on Twitter, if this were a Jets fan making these comments we would all be laughing. And he is 100% right.

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So should the Dolphins be worried? I’m not so sure they need to be. Tagovailoa is an honest kid and has excelled in all phases of his career but in each of those stages he has fought adversity. Between the COVID situation last off-season, the lack of off-season work on the field, and his recovery from the hip injury, it does seem that he lost quality opportunity to learn more of the playbook and it is much harder to learn it on paper than put it into action on a practice field.

The Dolphins shouldn’t be too worried until we see what he does this year. He has put a bullseye on his brain this year and if he doesn’t know the playbook again, then this is again, 100% on him and at that point, the Dolphins should start to worry but that is still a bit far away. I would like to think that Tua is sitting there saying, “that wasn’t a smart thing to say” and use that as more self-motivation to get better.

For now, I wouldn’t read too much into it but I’m not sure I agree with Jeremy about being excited regarding his transparency. I’m more likely going to adjust the microscope just a tad bit. You can’t discount the fact that he did not throw anyone under the bus, that he did accept the full accountability of what happened last year, and is using it to get better. Should the Dolphins be worried? Nope. Should the fans? Nope.