The No. 5 overall pick from the 2020 NFL Draft has not had a linear path to success with the Dolphins. He sat behind Ryan Fitzpatrick for the first half of his rookie season, only to be benched again later in the year after a lackluster first few games starting.
The Dolphins kept the playbook extremely boring and vanilla for Tagovailoa, which caused the team to move forward with a new offensive coordinator this past offseason. However, early results have been less-than-ideal.
The Tua Tagovailoa hype train is losing steam
Tagovailoa won his first start of the 2021 season against the New England Patriots. However, it wasn’t exactly an awe-inspiring performance from the second-year QB.
He passed for just 202 yards with a 59.3% completion rate and threw an interception. The Dolphins only mustered up a measly 17 points, and Patriots rookie Mac Jones flashed more instances of elite potential throughout the afternoon. Tagovailoa and the Dolphins won the game, but by no means was it a pretty display of football.
The following week is when disaster really struck for Tagovailoa. Just four pass attempts into the Dolphins Week 2 matchup with the Bills, Tagovailoa was crushed by a blindside hit and cracked some ribs. He failed to return and was eventually ruled out for the Week 3 game against the Las Vegas Raiders.
While the Dolphins failed to win their Week 2 and Week 3 games, it’s worth highlighting that the offense played well against Las Vegas. Led by veteran backup Jacoby Brissett, the Dolphins managed to take the Raiders to overtime, nearly scarping out what would’ve been an impressive road win.
Just a few days after the loss, the rumors began to emerge.
The Miami Dolphins are still being linked to Deshaun Watson
If you’ve been following along this past offseason, you’ll know the Dolphins have been oft-linked to Deshaun Watson. It’s still unclear what Watson’s NFL future looks like (he’s yet to be suspended). However, the Dolphins are seemingly placing themselves at the front of the discussion.
Talks died down as the season began. However, following back-to-back frustrating weeks of football in Miami, it appears the organization is once again weighing the pros and cons of selling the farm for a brand new franchise quarterback.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk has already reported that Stephen Ross, the Dolphins’ owner, “really wants” Watson. It’s unclear how willing the team’s front office is to make such a move. However, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
What does this mean for the Miami Dolphins’ current QB?
Obviously, if the Dolphins pull the trigger for Watson, this means Tagovailoa would promptly lose his job in Miami. Some are speculating that a blockbuster trade would see Tagovailoa sent to the Houston Texans. However, there’s little evidence suggesting the Texans want the former first-round pick.
In fact, common sense suggests the Texans would rather draft their own quarterback in the 2022 or 2023 NFL Draft. Tagovailoa has yet to flash star potential, and he’s already on year two of his rookie contract. He doesn’t fit the Texans’ timeline.
It’s unfortunate, but a potential Watson-to-Miami trade could see Tagovailoa join former teammate Josh Rosen on the long list of failed first-round QBs who couldn’t find a team to build around them properly. Rosen went from the Arizona Cardinals, to the Dolphins, to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to the San Francisco 49ers, before eventually finding a place on the Atlanta Falcons’ depth chart.
It’s not unreasonable to believe a similar fate is in line for Tagovailoa should the Dolphins replace him with Watson.
There’s no guarantee Miami makes the deal. There’s also still plenty of time for Tagovailoa to flip the narrative on himself once he returns from injury. However, the vibe is unquestionably negative around the second-year QB at the moment.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.