The Truth About Starting Tua Now

November 1, 2020. How will we remember that day a decade from now? Will it be a “where were you when…” moment? Or a “here we go again” moment?

The story is yet to be scripted but all Dolphins fans can agree that we want/need the first option. It has been two decades since Dan Marino retired following the 1999 season, leaving this franchise in limbo. The Dolphins have started 21 different quarterbacks since Marino’s departure and none of them have panned out. Miami has only made four playoff appearances and has one playoff victory since 1999. Does Tua Tagovailoa just become another name on the list of failed quarterbacks or does he erase the past narrative and re-write Miami Dolphins’ history? Those are the questions and more importantly the realities that Tua faces when he graces Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, November 1st.

I urge Dolphins fans not to jump to conclusions and give the 22-year-old kid a chance. His first pass, whether accurate or incomplete or his first game, whether a win or a loss, will not depict how his career will play out. There is no question that Tua Tagovailoa, one of the most prolific and accomplished college quarterbacks ever, has the elite skill-set to be a star at the next level. You cannot teach poise, composure, humility, being clutch, or winning. Couple that with his elite accuracy, timing, and arm talent and the Dolphins could finally have something to work with. Tua, the Dolphins 22ndstarting quarterback in 21 years, is undoubtedly the most talented out of the pack, which is why so many Dolphins fans around the world are ecstatic.

This article is neither meant to hype up the rookie nor downplay him. It is simply to state the facts and what Tua might face in the weeks to come. Tagovailoa is taking over for Ryan Fitzpatrick who has played respectable football the past four weeks. The Dolphins are 3-1 in their past four games and winners of two in a row. In their three wins this season, Miami has won by more than 18 points in all of them. According to metrics and statistics, Fitzpatrick is performing like a top-10 quarterback this season.

Many people might be wondering about the timing of this decision and ask why now? But I ask, then when? The timing of this move could not have happened at a better moment. The team is entering its bye week and that allows Tua to get quality first-team reps in practice. Miami’s original plan could have been to turn to Tua during the team’s Week 11 bye but due to the rescheduling; Miami is off week 7 instead. There are three factors that go into why this is the correct decision for the organization.

The team is winning and the Dolphins are in the thick of the AFC East and playoff hunt. The offensive line looks much improved, the team is gelling and Tua gets to play in meaningful games. Throwing a rookie onto the field when the season is lost and playoff hopes have vanished does not have the same effect on a player. Next, Tua is taking over for Ryan Fitzpatrick when he is healthy and playing well. That can only mean that Tua is outperforming Fitzpatrick in practice and in the meeting rooms. Tua has a full grasp of the offense and is 100% healthy. We have all witnessed what Ryan Fitzpatrick’s ceiling is but Brian Flores and the rest of the Miami Dolphins brass know Tua’s is much higher. Making the move to Tagovailoa indicates that the organization is tired of being mediocre. The goal of fans should not be to make the playoffs at any cost. We have seen that over the years and that only leads to a wild-card round loss. Yes, Fitzpatrick can lead the Dolphins to the playoffs this year, but Tagovailoa can lead you to a Super Bowl. It might not be this year, but hopefully soon and that is why you make this move now. Getting Tua the most quality repetitions he can outweighs the chance of Fitzpatrick leading you to the playoffs this year.

This leads to another reason, the future. Barring an injury, the move to Tagovailoa is a long-term decision. This is not like last year when the Dolphins wanted to give Josh Rosen a chance and ended up going back to Fitzpatrick after Rosen played poorly. This is Tua’s team now and hopefully for the next decade-plus. Even if Tua plays poorly in his first few outings, Ryan Fitzpatrick will not be brought back. The goal for the remaining ten games is to groom Tua for the 2021 season. Any type of accolades or playoff appearances this season is just a bonus. Getting rid of the “rookie bumps” and catching him up to NFL speed is the most important task so Tua, and the team, can hit the ground running in 2021.

As much as I would love to tell you that Tua is going to lead the Dolphins to a playoff berth and win offensive rookie of the year, we need to have realistic goals for the rookie who has not played in a full game since his season-ending hip injury. Tua has 10 games to win over the fans and more importantly the front office. Everyone in the media will scrutinize every throw or mistake the lefty makes. They’ll compare him to Ryan Fitzpatrick, Joe Burrow, and Justin Herbert. All of this puts a massive amount of pressure on Tua to perform at a high level from day one. If there is anyone that can handle the pressure, it is the same player who won a national championship after being inserted at halftime as a true freshman. Tua’s faith and family ties allow him to not let outside noise affect his play on the field. The new face of the Dolphins thrives under the spotlight and plays some of his best football when the stakes are the highest. If Tua can go 5-5 in the remaining ten games, throw around 15 touchdowns (1.5 per game), stay healthy, and keep his interceptions to a minimum, that will be a successful rookie season.

On November 1st, the entire Miami Dolphins organization could change forever. The amount of pressure that is on Tua is indicative of the type of player he is. There has never been a player in Miami Dolphins history that has had the hype Tua does before taking a snap in an NFL game. There also has not been a player as talented as Tagovailoa since Dan Marino. Having high expectations for a player that is capable of so much is natural, but jumping to conclusions so quickly can be harmful. There will be mistakes along the way, but there will be much more success. Week 8 cannot come soon enough and hopefully turns out to be a day Dolphins fans remember for a long time. Tua time has officially begun, buckle up and enjoy the ride.