The Miami Dolphins had been rumored to be infatuated with Tua Tagovailoa long before the NFL Draft and Justin Herbert was an afterthought. In hindsight, they didn’t make a bad decision with Tua.
Dolphins fans are having a fit, and to some degree, rightfully so. Tua Tagovailoa had a rather unimpressive rookie season and managed to last one game, one full series, and part of another before he left the field with broken ribs in 2021. Meanwhile, Justin Herbert has earned Offensive Rookie of the Year and continues to show that he is going to be a great, not good but a great quarterback in the NFL.
For those of you who have read my drivel for 14 years you will remember that I was very much against Tua Tagovailoa. You will remember that I was 100% all in on Justin Herbert entering his final year of college and fell in love with Joe Burrow during his championship run at LSU. I never really spoke very highly of Tagovailoa but if there is one thing I can be, it’s objective.
Tua Tagovailoa is not the problem for the Miami Dolphins. They didn’t miss on Tagovailoa. They missed on Justin Herbert. We can see that Herbert is a rising star and we are frustrated because what we have seen in Tua is far from what we expected. Even those of us who were not fans, thought we would see more.
The fact of all this is simple, the Dolphins don’t use him to his strengths. Chan Gailey dumbed down his playbook and called different games for Tua and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Those are facts. As Tua recovered from a devastating injury, he also recovered from the mental degradation that came with it. Tua should not have played last year, at all. He needed to be 100% and he wasn’t at any time in 2020. In this era of the NFL, teams don’t wait patiently and they don’t let players adjust or learn. It’s trial by fire.
Tua plays behind an offensive line that is pieced together and lacks consistency, and that is being nice. Tua plays in a system that is designed by two OCs and runs plays called by someone else who has no real NFL experience. Tua is asked to not make mistakes and to manage the game. He has no run game to speak of and spends more time on his back than standing in the pocket. Justin Herbert? He has the the 7th ranked offensive line in the league and an aggressive OC who accepts the mistakes. Something Tua doesn’t have in Miami.
In Miami, it would be difficult to say what Herbert would do but given this coaching staff and the current state of the offensive line, I find it hard to believe that Herbert would be putting up the numbers he has or that Miami would have any more success than they did last year. I also have to imagine that Jesse Davis would still have whiffed on that block that sent Tua to the IR list.
To put this in a bit of a different perspective, you either believe that Justin Herbert would be the difference in Miami over Tua and if you believe that, you also are saying that the coaching staff isn’t the problem in Miami. You are saying that the Oline is not the problem as well. As someone on Twitter put it, if you think that the coaching staff would be wasting Herbert’s talent, then you also have to know that they are wasting Tua’s as well.
Herbert is a good QB and he is getting better. The Dolphins probably should have drafted a more prototypical type guy at that position but they didn’t miss on Tua. We still don’t know what he has to offer because there are simply too many other areas on this offense that is a big problem. For now, Herbert is the better QB but honestly, as a big fan of Herbert long before he entered the NFL, I don’t think he would be doing what he has with L.A. in Miami. So did the Dolphins really miss on Herbert? No, no more than than they didn’t miss on Tua. Their misses are with the draft picks that they wasted on players like Austin Jackon and Noah Igbinoghene.