NFL

Will Tua Tagovailoa Get on the Field for the Miami Dolphins This Season?

There’s no doubt that Tua Tagovailoa is the future of the Miami Dolphins. The NFL team invested heavily in the University of Alabama quarterback by making him the No. 5 overall draft pick this spring.

Of the three quarterbacks selected with one of the top six picks, Tagovailoa is the only one who has not played a down this fall. There are cases to be made pro and con for taking him out for a test spin before much longer.

Tua Tagovailoa appears destined to do big things for the Miami Dolphins

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Tua Tagovailoa is the NCAA’s all-time passing efficiency leader following a memorable career at Alabama, where he threw 87 touchdowns passes and just 11 interceptions on his way to a 199.4 passer rating. That figure easily eclipsed the trio of Oklahoma greats – Kyler Murray (181.3), Sam Bradford (175.6), and Baker Mayfield (175.4) – that formerly led the list.

Tagovailoa was 22-2 under three different offensive coordinators at Alabama before finishing his career on the sidelines due to injuries. The Miami Dolphins made him the second quarterback and fifth player overall in the 2020 NFL draft.

Tagovailoa’s arrival injected immediate excitement into the fan base in Miami. However, his jersey sales have taken off before his career has. Tagovailoa did not win the starting job from  Ryan Fitzpatrick this summer and has not taken a live snap yet.

All in all, that shouldn’t be a surprise. Tagovailoa’s injuries at Alabama, which ended his playing days there prematurely, are well documented. In addition, it’s not as though there was a clear path to the top of the Dolphins’ two-deep.

Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert are already NFL starters

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It’s understandable that Miami Dolphins fans are eager to see Tua Tagovailoa play. After all, No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow became the Cincinnati Bengals’ starter as soon as he arrived because the team had already released Andy Dalton. Also, No. 6 pick Justin Herbert was pressed into duty with the Los Angeles Chargers due to an off-the-field injury to Tyrod Taylor.

Burrow struggled in the opener against the Chargers but has since posted consecutive 300-yard days with a combined five touchdown passes and no interceptions. The primary concern thus far is that he’s already absorbed 14 sacks, including eight in the Week 3 tie with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Herbert wasn’t expected to play so soon, but the Chargers had to call upon him minutes before kickoff in Week 2 to sub for Taylor. All he did in his debut was go 22-for-33 against the Kansas City Chiefs. He’s thrown for more than 300 yards in both his pro starts.

Tagovailoa’s situation is different. Although he’s the definition of a journeyman quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick came to training camp as the incumbent. And though he threw three picks in the opener against the New England Patriots, Fitzpatrick has been in top form since.

The Dolphins are 1-2 and a candidate to lose contact with the Patriots and the Buffalo Bills at the top of the division by the time the season gets to its homestretch. However, they must and should keep riding with Fitzpatrick while it’s still a race.

Questions about Tua Tagovailoa popped up again this week

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Miami Dolphins fans want to see Tua Tagovailoa, their new $30,275,000 quarterback. ESPN analyst Ryan Clark added to the chatter this week by suggesting that the rookie should be taking at least a few snaps in every game to prepare him in case starter Ryan Fitzpatrick is injured, the Miami Herald reported.

That’s not going to happen in Week 4 when the Seattle Seahawks come to town. Tagovailoa has missed practice time this week due to illness, and it’s possible rookie Reid Sinnett will have to be activated from the practice squad to be on standby.

Even if Tagovailoa were available, coach Brian Flores said at his weekly media availability that he isn’t keen on the idea of giving him a series here or there each week.

“We’ve got projects for him that he’s working on as well as practice, and he’s just going to continue to get better. When his opportunity presents itself, I think he’s doing all the things that he can do so that if and when that opportunity presents itself, he’ll be ready. As far as a series, it’s not really something we’ve talked about; but that could change. But look, as the No. 2, he’s one play away from being in the game, so he has to be ready to go. It could be a series. It could be for whatever reason he has to be ready to go, which he’s prepared that way.”

Brian Flores

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.