Dan Marino retired from the Miami Dolphins in 1999. From 2000 to 2023 the Miami Dolphins have trotted out 26 different starting quarterbacks in search of the next franchise quarterback. This dubious list includes the likes of Cleo Lemon, Sage Rosenfels, and John Beck just to name a few.
Tua Tagovailoa is number 23 on the list of quarterbacks looking to take this storied franchise back to the promised land.
It feels like forever since the last time number 13 ran through the tunnel wearing aqua and orange. Dan Marino is and will continue to be the Gold Standard for quarterback play. Dan Marino was drafted in 1983 in what is still known today as the greatest Quarterback draft class in the history of the NFL. Marino spoiled the fanbase from the minute he came on the scene until his last day as a member of the Miami Dolphins.
Since Marino's departure, Miami has been in search of his heir apparent. Jay Fiedler, Ryan Tannehill, and Tua Tagovailoa are the three quarterbacks who have started the most games since that time. For comparison sake, we used Tua's first 46 games to compare him to Fiedler, Marino, and Tannehill and see how he stacks up.
During Dan Marino's first 44 games as a Miami Dolphin, the best word to describe his play was prolific. Dan Marino was a once-in-a-generation talent. Through 46 games as a starter, Dan Marino threw for 108 touchdowns, 47 interceptions, and 12, 243 yards passing. Marino was 34-10 as a starter with a 60.67 completion percentage and a 98.3 QB Rating.
Jay Fiedler has probably been Marino's most successful replacement. Jay Fiedler was 28-13 in his first 41 games as a starter. Fiedler threw 48 touchdowns, 42 interceptions, and 7,716 passing yards. Jay had a 59.7 completion percentage and an 80 QB Rating. Ryan Tannehill, the converted college wide receiver, had a 23-25 record in his first 48 games as a Dolphin quarterback. Tannehill threw for 63 touchdowns, 42 interceptions, and 11,252 passing yards. Ryan did have a 61.7 completion percentage with a 52.43 QB Rating.
Tua Tagovailoa has played 46 games for the Miami Dolphins. Tua has compiled a 28-16 record as a starter, having thrown for 73 touchdowns, 31 interceptions, and 10,949 passing yards. Tua has a 66.7 completion percentage and a 97.7 QB Rating. Let's recap, Tua has fewer interceptions and a better completion percentage than Dan Marino. This doesn't necessarily make him the second coming of the greatest quarterback in the franchise's history but, it's definitely better than anything Miami has had since 1999.
Dan Marino is the best quarterback the franchise has ever had. The argument can be had that Dan Marino will go down as the best quarterback in franchise history, even 50 years from now. The problem is, the franchise shouldn't be looking for the next Dan Marino, the Dolphins need to be looking for the next franchise quarterback. Peyton Manning went 3-13 in his first since and 26-22 in his first 48 games. Peyton Manning threw 27 more interceptions than Tua and had a lesser completion percentage and QB rating.
Tua Tagovailoa is not Dan Marino, nor will he ever be. The question the Dolphins brass have to ask themselves is; can Tua be a franchise quarterback? Can Tua win in the postseason and consistently compete for Super Bowls? A clear answer still seems to be in the works. Finding out this answer before giving Tua a contract extension will go a long way towards setting this franchise up for the future or setting this franchise back another 5 years.