The Miami Dolphins knew that Tua Tagovailao was their guy in 2020 and they stayed put and grabbed him over Justin Herbert. It didn’t take long for the naysayers to rear their ugly heads and as Herbert progressed through a Rookie of the Year season, the pile-up on Tua Tagovailoa only got bigger.
The question, however, is why the double standard? And yes, there is one and it is not something that is hidden.
Since training camps have begun, Joe Burrow of the Bengals has been in the news quite a bit and not for the best of reasons. He looks timid and even a little scared of contact. Naturally, that would be the case after suffering a big season-ending injury the year before. Burrows has not looked good at all Bengals camp. Yet, he is getting a pass.
Even Joy Taylor and Colin Cowherd spoke about how it should be expected from Burrow after such a devastating injury. Both explaining that the recovery is more than physical but mental as well. Yet both have previously said that Tagovailoa should be discarded by the Dolphins. Replaced, and Cowherd consistently dogs the young quarterback.
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Again, why are the two QBs so different when it comes to the attention of the media? Some of the media talking heads point to Burrow’s start in the NFL. He was trending or a ROTY season before his injury and in Miami, Tua was struggling and was replaced twice by Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The problem is Tua was never fully healthy last year. There were several things that stood in Tua’s way from being better than average last season.
- Off-season rehabilitation
- COVID off-season workouts canceled
- Limited contact with trainers at the facility
- Mental rehabilitation after a serious injury
Those are not excuses, they are facts. Clear facts that can’t be denied. Tua underwent an incredibly emotional and physically exhausting rehabilitation. Last year he had to battle the mental parts of the game while also learning the NFL level. Unlike Burrow, he didn’t enter the league at 100% he was probably closer to 60% at the start of training camp.
By the time he was given the starting job, Tua was in a much better place but even he admitted that his confidence in his hip wasn’t there and as we have heard from some in the media, that should be expected.
It’s hard to hypothesize what the difference is and why some players get a pass or at minimum an understanding while Tua is thrown under the bus consistently.
If we look back to the final year at Alabama and Burrow at LSU, the two were neck and neck in potential to win a Heisman. A lof the focus was on Burrow’s amazing final year at LSU but Tua’s season ended far too prematurely and he had Alabama positioned to make a run at the National Title.
Tua’s injury was a freak accident and there were some who believed he would never play again. That was another mental warp he had to overcome.
Tua only played three seasons of college football and entered the draft following his junior year and the injury. Prior to his injury, Tua was considered the likely number one overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, it was going to be a close-run with Burrow, who had five seasons of college football after a redshirt freshman year at Ohio State and a transfer to LSU after his third year at OSU.
Entering the 2020 draft, Burrow was my personal favorite QB followed by Justin Herbert. Tua wasn’t on my radar, the injury was serious enough to warrant a different approach but the vitriol that is spilled on him is undeniably confusing.
Tua looked really good at times in 2020 despite everything he had gone through. His first play from scrimmage was a big hit from Aaron Donald and that couldn’t have felt too good.
If there is one thing about Tua is his attitude doesn’t change. He is healthy and his practicing well. He doesn’t seem to let the outside comments distract him and he doesn’t seem to care about their opinions on his future and who the Dolphins should be trading for.
I would love to know what is about Tua that drives so many to push the buttons of his inability to develop into a franchise QB. Is it because he is left-handed, came from Alabama, is not the prototype NFL QB, and is more on the smaller side? My guess it is a little of all three but the confusing part is that no one was worried about that when they were touting him out of college prior to the injury.
Maybe it’s because he defies the odds and he is genuinely likable and doesn’t carry the swagger that Herbert and Burrow do. He is someone that others gravitate towards naturally and he is a leader because of it, not because he is loud.
I supposed when you combine it all together, Tua is just someone that shouldn’t be successful. He has been told over and over again that he needs to be better and do better and he has gone out and did just that. He has a pure family value and core that is unshakeable. He is a guy that you just want to know and for many, they have to find other faults. Maybe that is why they constantly try to take him down.