Tua Tagovailoa is a bust. We should all face the realism of that statement. A rookie making his fourth career start struggled and, in a 10 point game, was pulled in the fourth quarter after failing to move the offense for much of the day. That would not have happened if Tagovailoa were a sure bet like Justin Herbert or Joe Burrow. Clearly, Tua is a bust and the Dolphins are screwed for the next 15 years.
Hey, fun fact, we do not have a sarcasm font when writing an article.
Wow the last few days have been a beat down. Fans are up in arms. The national pundits are calling for heads to roll. The sky is falling and the world is ending. A rookie quarterback who was struggling in a multi-score game was pulled for a veteran after the sixth sack of the day.
If a rookie offensive lineman was allowing multiple sacks, fans would want them pulled. If a rookie wide receiver was dropping passes and running the wrong routes, pundits would expect them to be sidelined. If a rookie defensive end were consistently jumping off sides, it would be time to settle him down and let a more seasoned veteran take over for a minute.
But, oh dear Lord, do not take Tagovailoa out of the game. You will ruin him. You will cause him to lose faith in himself. You will break him. You will make the locker room not trust him.
You know, the exact opposite of all the things that were being said about the Dolphins and Tagovailoa on Sunday morning, where Tagovailoa was a leader, a player the locker room loved, and a mentally tough player who was able to overcome his hip injury in less than a year to take over an NFL team and win three games to stretch their streak to five wins. Yeah, all those things were immediately undone because head coach Brian Flores decided to sit Tagovailoa for the end of a rough game.
No quarterback can come back from being benched as a young player when he is struggling. Just look at the example of Drew Brees. Marty Schottenheimer pulled him with 8:23 remaining in the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills in 2002 - Brees’ first year starting for the San Diego Chargers - and clearly his confidence was shot. He could have been a great quarterback, but Schottenheimer ruined him.
Especially when he benched Brees again the next year after a 1-7 start, going with Flutie for five games. Then he benched Brees again late in the season.
ESPN’s Mike Triplett wrote of Brees’ early years in 2015, including the three benchings in his first two seasons. He wrote:
“Brees said sitting out for those five weeks ‘really gave me perspective.’
‘I sat back and I realized just how much pressure I was putting on myself, just how difficult I was making the game,; Brees said. ‘I can really simplify this game if I just relax and trust my instincts.’ Because I’ve always been a bit of a feel player. So when I came back, I felt a big difference in just my approach and my poise and that kind of thing.’”
Tagovailoa’s career is not over from one bad game or one time being pulled. The Dolphins locker room is not going to fall apart because Ryan Fitzpatrick entered the game, even if he had come back to win the game. Fitzpatrick is not the future of the team, but he is a player who can be used to provide a spark to a team down ten points in a game they felt the could still win.
The Dolphins are in the midst of a playoff race. They are building for the future but looking to win now. Flores made the decision that, in that moment, Fitzpatrick could give the team a spark and potentially shake them out of their malaise. With a win, Miami would have been tied with the Bills for the AFC East lead. The right move was to try to get the win, even if it meant pulling your rookie quarterback.
Tagovailoa is tough enough to understand why he was benched and to come back this week - with Flores immediately saying after the Broncos game the benching was not a permanent change but a decision made just for the end of the game - ready to play. He is not going to be shaken by being pulled one time late in a game in which he and the offense were struggling. The Dolphins will get better, Tagovailoa will get better, and they will continue to grow together. The future for the Dolphins continues to be bright, and Tagovailoa continues to be the face of that future.
Miami faces the New York Jets this weekend. It is time to sweep their AFC East rivals and put one bad game in Week 11 behind them - and us. Time to move on to Week 12 and the rest of Tagovailoa’s career.