Leading up to the 2021 NFL trade deadline, the Miami Dolphins seemingly wanted nothing to do with Tua Tagovailoa. Despite spending a top-five pick on the former Alabama starter in 2020, the Dolphins progressively became more and more attracted to the idea of acquiring Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.
It didn’t help that Tagovailoa has battled several injuries since arriving to the NFL. However, at the root of the issue was the Dolphins expressing a sense of buyer’s remorse. While fellow second-year quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Justin Hebert led their teams to wins, the Dolphins struggled to get Tagovailoa on the field.
The Dolphins were linked to Deshaun Watson up to the very last moment
The Dolphins and Texans ultimately could not agree to a Watson trade before time expired at the trade deadline. However, that doesn’t mean Miami wasn’t interested until the very last second.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was reportedly in love with the idea of trading multiple draft picks for Watson. Some outlets even cited the Dolphins sending an official offer Houston’s way.
The Texans passed on all offers to extract more value from interested teams in the upcoming offseason. Teams like the Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles, and yes, the Dolphins are all expected to engage in talks with Houston again in the spring. However, in the meantime, Tagovailoa is back under center for the foreseeable future in southern Florida. For the first time in his young NFL career, it looks like he’ll get a real opportunity to prove his value to the Dolphins organization.
Tua Tagovailoa should be the starter the rest of the season
Tagovailoa missed the Dolphins’ Week 9 game against the Houston Texans due to a finger injury, and there were concerns it would keep him out of action for another few weeks moving forward. He’d already missed a significant amount of time due to the before-mentioned rib injury. Additional missed time would seriously set him back when staking his claim as a starting quarterback.
However, the Dolphins sprung Tagovailoa back into action halfway through their Week 10 matchup with the Baltimore Ravens. He successfully played through his injury, passing for 158 yards and leading the Dolphins to a shocking victory.
Tagovailoa is seemingly healthy, and the Dolphins have no logical reason to trot backup Jacoby Brissett out there ever again. In theory, Tagovailoa is getting the entire second half of the season to prove his value. On paper, it’s shaping up to be a productive few games for the young gunslinger.
Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins have an easy second-half schedule
After laboring through games against the Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Las Vegas Raiders, and Baltimore Ravens, the Dolphins’ schedule is seriously lightening up moving forward.
Their next five games consist of matchups against the New York Giants, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and New York Jets twice. The New York teams are two of the worst in the NFL, while the Panthers and Saints are both on their second quarterbacks of the season.
All five of these games are winnable ones for Tagovailoa and the Dolphins.
If Tagovailoa can lead his team on a winning streak moving forward, at least getting them close to a Wild Card appearance, the narrative on his Dolphins career would flip. Miami may think twice about completely replacing him in the offseason for someone like Deshaun Watson.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.