The Miami Dolphins secured their quarterback of the future – so, when does the future begin?
The Miami Dolphins have a new quarterback.
It's Tua time in Miami ⌚️Article continues below ...
— ESPN (@espn) April 24, 2020
But do they have a new starting quarterback?
The answer might not be as clear-cut as it seems.
With the fifth pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins selected legendary Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, apparently following the advice of Alabama head coach Nick Saban.
Nick Saban, appearing on College GameDay, on Tua Tagovailoa: "I just hope teams don't make the same mistake we made in Miami when we didn't take Drew Brees because we thought he was hurt. And look what he's done since then."
— Charlie Potter (@Charlie_Potter) April 23, 2020
Indeed, in 2005 and 2006, Saban served two seasons as the head coach of the Dolphins, and heading into the 2006 season, his team had the chance to sign Drew Brees, who was coming off of surgery on a torn labrum in his throwing arm.
Miami doctors suggested the Dolphins not sign Brees due to the shoulder injury and the rest is history – Brees signed in New Orleans and led the Saints to a victory in Super Bowl XLIV in 2010.
Not to say that the Dolphins learned their lesson, but no player in the 2020 NFL Draft had more injury concerns than Tua Tagovailoa, who suffered a dislocated hip in November 2019.
"He was screaming in pain as medical training staff had to pick him up and carry him off the cart." @MollyAMcGrath said the first report is that Tua Tagovailoa suffered an injury to his right hip vs. Mississippi State. pic.twitter.com/ppMJykMq9N
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 16, 2019
Tagovailoa’s recovery has been well-documented, and as of March, he was medically cleared to resume football activities.
Tua back to throwing the pigskin after being medically cleared for football activities 👀💪
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 24, 2020
Still, worry persisted as the draft got closer, and many were stumped as to where Tua would land.
But when the big night came, he didn’t last long on the draft board.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 24, 2020
Now, after the Dolphins exhausted their first pick on the talented wild card, there is a new debate that’s surfaced: should Tua Tagovailoa immediately be the starter, or should Miami bring him along slowly?
The question was posed by ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe in a recent column.
With Tua coming off a devastating hip injury, covid-19 limitations, a Dolphins OL with 4-5 new starters including 2-3 rookies and a capable vet QB in Ryan Fitzpatrick, the smart choice is sitting Tua in 2020.
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) April 30, 2020
In the story, Wolfe makes the case that the Dolphins organization and head coach Brian Flores should exert patience, allowing Tua Tagovailoa to fully recover from his devastating injury and not play behind a young offensive line, while veteran backup Ryan Fitzpatrick controls the reigns for another year with Josh Rosen as his backup.
The Dolphins have a capable quarterback in Fitzpatrick — who is a locker room and fan favorite and is familiar with new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey’s scheme. The Dolphins also are building a young offensive line that could have four or five new starters, so a veteran quarterback would be ideal in this situation. And, with Josh Rosen still on the roster, the Dolphins could use him as the backup to Fitzpatrick. Finally, Flores and general manager Chris Grier have plenty of rope to build this team right, and if 2020 isn’t a winning season, then there’s time to course-correct before jobs are lost.
Last season, the 37-year old Fitzpatrick played in 15 games and started 13 for the Dolphins. Miami finished the season 5-11 and Fitzpatrick recorded 3,529 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He completed 62.0 percent of his passes.
Shannon Sharpe agrees with Wolfe’s assertion and compared the Dolphins quarterback situation this upcoming season to the New York Giants quarterback situation last season, with veteran Eli Manning and rookie Daniel Jones.
“No matter how great a rookie is, he’s going to struggle at times. And I believe that once you go to a rookie, you stick with him. You start with Fitzpatrick because you can always go to Tua … Last year, [the New York Giants] started Eli. Once Eli struggled, they brought Daniel Jones in … You’re not worried about 12 games this year. You’re worried about the next 12 years.”
"The Dolphins have the great luxury of having a veteran QB in Ryan Fitzpatrick who's already played a year in this system. I believe he goes into camp as the #1 QB & will start the season. But let's say they're 0-4 or 1-5, then I think they will turn to Tua."
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) May 1, 2020
Manning started for the Giants in Weeks 1 and 2, but Jones took over in Week 3. He held onto the starting position for 12 games until an injury called for Manning to return as the starter in Week 14.
Still, there are those in the camp of “You drafted Tua to be a starter, not a backup.” That camp includes ESPN’s Mina Kimes and Clinton Yates, who discussed the topic on Around the Horn.
“I’m selling [the idea of redshirting Tua], unless there’s a medical reason … That’s a reason to sit him, but the football reason isn’t there,” Kimes said. “People point to Patrick Mahomes as an example of a rookie quarterback redshirting for a season, but they for get he was playing behind Alex Smith … Ryan Fitzpatrick is not that.”
Yates pointed to the excitement that’s now alive within the Miami fanbase as the main reason the Dolphins cannot justify sitting Tagovailoa.
“It would seem to undercut the logic of picking him that high to begin with if you’re just going to sit him for reasons that are health-related … Get him out there best you can … Redshirting for an entire year – that just doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t see how you sell that to a fanbase.”
For what it’s worth, Fitzpatrick plans to return to Miami for the 2020 season and before the draft, he discussed how much fun he has playing the game.
“I’ve been at it for a long time. I don’t take these opportunities for granted. I don’t know when my last opportunity is going to be, and now my kids are old enough where they can watch and remember the stuff that I’m doing. I think about that a lot when I’m playing … I really do enjoy the game.”
Hopefully, Fitzpatrick can continue to play and Tagovailoa is healthy enough to play.
There’s nothing like a good ol’ quarterback competition.