Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is like Christian Ponder, apparently

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 19: Tua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins reacts after being sacked against the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter at Hard Rock Stadium on September 19, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 19: Tua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins reacts after being sacked against the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter at Hard Rock Stadium on September 19, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Is Miami Dolphins Tua Tagovailoa today’s NFL version of Christian Ponder?

Well, one prominent TV broadcaster thinks so, and he had some pretty disrespectful things to say about the Dolphins’ starting QB.

Nick Wright, of Fox Sports show, “First Things First”, asked former NFL receiver Greg Jennings to think back to his playing career and think of a situation he played in similar to the 2022 Dolphins.

Tua Tagovailoa
Nick Wright. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images) /

Here’s how Wright simultaneously described the Dolphins and the 2013 Minnesota Vikings.

"“It’s got a quarterback top 10 pick on his rookie contract, it’s got a really good offense, maybe an All-Pro, one of the best players in the league, spent a lot of money in free agency to bring in another wide receiver, you got another young receiver who was a 1st round pick, but real questions at quarterback. ” -Nick Wright via First Things First."

Chris Broussard, another member of the show, was dumbfounded at the comparison, saying, “Now Tua’s Christian Ponder?”

Nick Wright then fired back, again asking Greg Jennings, “Greg, do you see any similarities?”

Jennings wisely deflected the question and went on a small rant talking about the confidence of a young quarterback and how important it is for Tua needs to regain his.

Tua Tagovailoa
Christian Ponder. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

Now if you aren’t familiar with Christian Ponder, he was the 12th pick in the 2011 draft out of Florida State and turned out to be a bust. He started 35 games in his career, going 14-21-1, throwing for 6,658 yards, 38 TDs to 36 INTs for a lousy 75.9 QB rating.

Oh.. and I forgot to mention, Ponder had PRIME Adrian Peterson as his running back during his short-lived career. The guy who went for 2,097 yards and 12TDs in 2012. Ponder didn’t pass for over 2,900 yards and 18 TDs in 16 games that season.

I think it’s pretty safe to say Tua Tagovailoa has easily outperformed Ponder with a much worse situation in his first two seasons. And let me be clear, that isn’t exactly something to brag about, but when blasphemous hot takes are being spewed left & right, sometimes the takes are so bad you simply cannot let them slide.

But unfortunately, the hot takes from Nick Wright on Monday morning did not stop there about Tua Tagovailoa. Wright went on:

"“I don’t think Tua is as good as Alex Smith, I don’t think Tua is as good as Ryan Tannehill, I don’t think Tua is going to be the Dolphins starting quarterback after Thanksgiving, much less next year, I do think there’s a reason they have Teddy Bridgewater for $6.5 million bucks, and I think that the Dolphins are a quarterback away from being a team that the Bills have to really contend with in the AFC East.”"

Every single word written in that excerpt was spoken without hesitation or a breath. I don’t remember the last time that many hot takes were formulated in 20 seconds.

So once again, let’s break down each sentence one at a time.

Tua Tagovailoa
Alex Smith. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Despite the many negative narratives around Alex Smith, he had a good NFL career. With a 99-67-1 record, 35,650 passing yards, 199 TDs to 109 INTs, Smith retired with respectable numbers. Although he didn’t quite live up to being the #1 overall pick back in 2005, he certainly wasn’t a bust.

I’d argue Smith was an above-average QB most of his career, likely between the 12th-14th best in the league.

If Tagovailoa rattled off a career like Smith’s, I think fans would be disappointed which is fair given the expectations for Tua coming out of college, but those numbers would also place him as the second-best QB in Dolphins history.

Does that mean anything? No, not really.

But to sum up the Alex Smith comparison, I think Tua is already very close to peak Alex Smith. An elite game manager who won’t lose you games. That’s pretty much been Tua Tagovailoa since entering the NFL, but I believe he has the potential to ascend beyond that, which Alex Smith was never able to do.

Tua Tagovailoa
Ryan Tannehill. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Next on the list is good ol’ Ryan Tannehill. As a young kid back in 2012, Tannehill was naturally one of the first players I latched onto. He was the newly drafted quarterback to my favorite team, right when I began to really understand football.

I defended that man constantly for years, but right around year 4, I knew it was time for the Dolphins to move on. My assessment of Tannehill is he’s the epitome of an average quarterback who will sometimes lose you games.

In my opinion, if I was starting a team tomorrow and was trying to win as many games as I could next season, I would take Tua Tagovailoa over Ryan Tannehill. If you put Tannehill behind the offensive line Tua has dealt with the last two years, we may have seen the first 100 sack season for a quarterback in NFL history.

On the other side of the spectrum, if you gave Tua the likes of Derrick Henry, AJ Brown, the Titans offensive line, and the Titans coaching staff the last two seasons, I believe Tua would be considered a really good quarterback.

Unfortunately, that isn’t how things work, but that’s my response to the Tannehill take.

Tua Tagovailoa
Tua Tagovailoa. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

Lastly, the narrative that Tua won’t be the starting quarterback for the Dolphins by Thanksgiving is one of the most outlandish things I’ve seen this off-season. Let’s forget about injury for a moment, because we know that’s not what Nick Wright was inferring by Tua not playing.

For that to happen, Tua Tagovailoa would have to have one of the worst starts to a season maybe ever. I’m talking about Nathan Peterman bad, multiple 3+ interception games bad.

Whether you like it or not, Tua will be starting every game he’s capable of playing in this season. This is his audition, he has 17 games to show the Dolphins what he’s got with a viable team around him.

And also, to float out the idea that Teddy Bridgewater is a better quarterback than Tua, or gives the Dolphins a better chance to win than Tua, would be very silly as well.

Tua Tagovailoa
Teddy Bridgewater Denver Broncos (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Bridgewater has played in one season where he started all 16 games. Do you wanna know how many touchdowns he threw that season? 14. No that isn’t a typo. 1-4. 14!

That was it. A mere 0.875 touchdowns a game.

Now I also wanna be fair here, Teddy is a great backup, one of the best in the league, he could start for a few teams in the NFL, and most team’s backup quarterback could not.

So I’m glad the Dolphins learned their lesson and got a solid backup so we all don’t have to watch Jacoby Brissett for a month. But I’m really hopeful Tua can stay healthy this season, he cannot afford to miss games, and the Dolphins can’t either.

But in the awful case that he can’t, the Dolphins have someone who can step in and be just fine. And that’s why he got 6.5 million dollars, not to compete with Tua, not to take his job, but to be a backup, and not derail the season in case Tua goes down.

For whatever reason, these comments by Nick Wright got me a bit more fired up than the 1,000 other things I’ve heard and seen this off-season. But hold on just a little longer Dolfans, the season is right around the corner, and Tua Tagovailoa is gonna make them walk all of these words back.

Follow me on Twitter, @MathisReports.