Tua Tagovailoa made his first NFL start this past Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams. The decision to start Tua this week was made prior to the Dolphins bye in week 7. In doing so, the Dolphins move Ryan Fitzpatrick to the bench.
This move came as somewhat of a surprise to NFL executives as Ryan Fitzpatrick had led the Dolphins to a 3–3 record through the first 6 weeks with usual electric play style. They are well in the playoff hunt in a tight AFC East.
Because of Fitzpatrick keeping the Dolphins within striking distance of a playoff spot, the move will give Tua the opportunity to develop while playing meaningful NFL football games. However, the move has been widely criticized for being a bit premature. Not only because Ryan Fitzpatrick has been putting on a show week in and week out but because Tua is coming off a near career ending hip injury.
In his first start, Tua threw for 93 yards and a touchdown while completing 12 of 22 pass attempts. No interceptions and a Dolphins victory. According to ESPN, Tua is the first quarterback since Donovan McNabb to have won his first start while having 20+ pass attempts, and throw for less than 100 yards in their first ever start. Not bad company, but not a great stat line either.
The stat line looks even more suspect when you see the final score of the game… The Dolphins won 28–17 over a good Rams team. Tua’s passing touchdown was one of two offensive touchdowns for the Dolphins. The other two touchdowns came on defense and special teams.
The Dolphins defense stole the show on Sunday afternoon. The pre-game storyline was Tua going up against the likes of Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey… After the game, the storyline was all about the defense of the Dolphins and the poor protection of Jared Goff by his offensive line.
Jared Goff was eating turf for what seemed like the whole game. Every time RedZone cut to this game, it was Jared Goff throwing an interception or getting sacked and fumbling. Bottom line is the defense for Miami was on a mission.
Was it because Miami’s defense knew Tua needed some support? Maybe.
Would the defense have performed over their heads like this if Ryan Fitzpatrick were at quarterback? Not sure.
It is quite obvious however that the Dolphins are very confident in Tua and his abilities. They would not have selected him as the 5th overall pick in the draft if they did not think so highly of him. They are banking on him to be the guy we saw at Alabama. Absolutely dominating defenses and putting up monster numbers.
If Tua does blossom into the star quarterback we saw in college, the Dolphins have found their franchise piece moving forward…
Now that Tua has been handed the keys to the Dolphins offense for the foreseeable future… What does that mean for Ryan Fitzpatrick AKA “FitzMagic”?
Well, there are a few routes the Dolphins can take with Fitz. The first being a trade.
There are a few teams that come to mind when you think of quarterback needs… The Cowboys, 49ers, Jets could all use a bit of FitzMagic in their locker room.
The other and more likely option is holding onto Fitzpatrick as the backup… But what fun is FitzMagic when he can’t be on the field performing? Exactly… no fun at all.
I believe I speak for football fans far and wide by saying that we would love to see Ryan Fitzpatrick get traded so that we can see him perform his Magician act once or twice more before he hangs up the cleats… It’s a small ask for us fans during these tumultuous times.
All in all, the Tua move is still being evaluated… an underwhelming debut statistically, but a win is a win. There is something to be said about a quarterback that can help you win football games. Being a Bears fan, I know this all too well.
Tua and the other rookie quarterbacks who have enjoyed success throughout this 2020 NFL season prove to us that the quarterback position should be a priority for any team during the NFL draft. Even if you have a formidable quarterback on the roster, you should still utilize one of your draft picks to take a signal caller. Who knows… You could very well be drafting the next face of your franchise.