On the sidelines, Tua Tagovailao is all smiles. The Miami Dolphins star quarterback is having fun for the first time in his NFL career. Brian Flores is long gone and his health continues to drop in conversation topics as a problem.
Now, a new narrative has bubbled up to the surface. Tua Tagovailoa can't win the big game at the NFL level.
In week four, the Miami Dolphins headed to Buffalo to take on the Bills and they got wiped out. The Dolphins offense didn't have any answers and the high-powered offense was reduced to rubble and only 20 points.
The loss, at the time, put the Bills in front of the division and the Dolphins place as the media darlings of the NFL were pushed off the table and onto the floor. Now, after two more convincing wins the Dolphins and Tua are heading to the City of Brotherly Love to face an Eagles team that lost their first game of the year last week.
Naturally, those media heads that had been pounding the table that Tua was done, then saying they were wrong, and then saying, "Who knows", are back once again to say that Tua hasn't really beaten anyone. Especially this year.
2023 has been a great year so far but Miami has beaten the Chargers, Patriots, Broncos, Giants, and Panthers. One of those teams has yet to win a game all year. Three of those teams have managed to win one game, and the other? Two games. Combined together, Miami's victories have come against teams with a combined five wins. The same total of wins the Dolphins have.
The only team Miami has lost to is the Bills who have a winning record and a talented roster. The Eagles have one of the best rosters in the NFL on both sides of the ball.
Can Tua beat the Eagles? It isn't going to be easy and the primetime match will be on display for the world to see and this game could break some Sunday Night Football telecast records.
The Eagles' defense is likely going to play Tua the way the Bills did. Force Miami to run the ball and take away Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill. In doing that, they take away Tua Tagovailoa.
Miami may lose this game and if I am being honest, I would be a homer to pick Miami to win this one. I don't, however, see this as an offensive issue as much as a defensive issue for Miami who does not match up well with the Eagles' offense.
So can Tua win the big games? Of course, he can. There shouldn't be any question about that. Against the Bills, Miami was stifled on offense but it was the defense that put Miami in bad situations and let the game get out of hand. Miami's offense struggled but they had to become one-dimensional.
This week, Tua can silence the remaining critics and if he can lead the team to a win, it would could very well put an exclamation point on the first part of the season.
Tua Tagovailoa needs to bring it all this week and he will be tested. That's a good thing because we will get to see how he reacts to the immense pressure of a game on national television when so many are hoping he fails. Throughout his career, he has faced more adversity from the public and the media than most QBs do in their entire career and yet he continues to prove them wrong.
On Sunday, he has another shot to quiet the doubters and naysayers yet again and if he does, the narrative very well may go away for good....until the Chiefs in three weeks.