The Miami Dolphins are one of the most exciting teams heading into the 2023 season and many media members are saying they can make a deep run in the post season...if...Tuat Tagovailoa can stay healthy.
So the big question is, can the Miami Dolphins win if they lost Tua Tagovailoa for any significant time?
Last season, the Dolphins had to endure several regular season games without their top QB and it directly correlated to lost games. After the knock out in Cincinnati, Tua missed the next two games. Miami lost to the Bengals and lost the next two as well. Tua rebounded and returned in week 7 but against the Packers, he took another hit.
That game saw Tua return after the half but he wasn't the same and mistakes cost Miami a win. Tua didn't return the rest of the year and Miami lost the following week to the Patriots and and narrowly beat the Jets in week 17, 11-6.
The Dolphins would put up a huge fight in Buffalo the following week in the playoffs but couldn't overcome the inexperienced Skylar Thompson running the offense.
Enough about history but we do need to ask, can Miami win without Tua?
That question is a hard one to answer and one could argue that QB Mike White is the answer to that question. Teddy Bridgewater was not good last year and the Dolphins had to rely on Thompson far more than they should have. Mike White doesn't have a long list of starting games or real-game experience but he does have some and you could argue that with the Jets, it was never a situation for success.
This year, White may not see the field if Tua stays healthy but if Tua misses time again, whether it is a concussion or other injury, White is the guy expected to lead the Dolphins.
With Tua, Miami stands to be a team ready to challenge for the AFC East and also, possibly, challenge the Chiefs for an AFC title but without him, many believe that the Dolphins will be just another normal team.
There are enough reasons to believe that to be true. There are also reasons to believe it will not be.
Vic Fangio is a big key defensively. Unlike last year, the Dolphins defense had good games and bad ones and were inconsistent due to the continued use of the Cover-Zero blitz package that Josh Boyer ran 99% of the time. Fangio's experience and his defensive system should bring Miami a much improved defensive unit in 2023 and that can compensate for a Tua absence.
Offensively, two things need to happen for Miami to be successful without Tua. They need Mike White to step in and lead the team but they also need Mike McDaniel to change his offense to accommodate that change.
Miami needs to be able to pivot quickly should Tua go down. A solid running game will take the pressure off White and force defenses to play Miami's offense differently. A good run game will make Miami's offense explosive with Tua at the helm but it could be the savior should White be forced to start.
It is for this reason that many fans still pound their fists for Dalvin Cook. Cook makes Miami's running back unit far better and if the Dolphins need to rely on that run game, having another quality if not elite running back is important.
Can Miami win without Tua? Can they advance in the postseason with Mike White or Skylar Thompson behind center? They can, absolutely, but this offense is built for Tua's strengths and Mike McDaniel will be the biggest key to making sure they are still an elite offense without their top QB.