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When are we going to start giving Tagovailoa the credit he deserves?

Los Angeles Chargers v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Looking back at the events of the past year, if you told me at the end of last season that our team would be 7-4 right now, that we’d have one of the most talented and accomplished quarterbacks ever to come from the college ranks — much less to ever be brought into the Miami Dolphins organization — and that his serious injury would be 100% healed, he’d be 3-1 as a starter, have a passer rating eleven points higher than the guy who was drafted with the first overall pick this past Spring, while throwing for six touchdowns and zero interceptions, I’d have said you were crazy, that not even Hollywood would believe such an improbable story.

Yet, here we are, and many fans just don’t seem to grasp the enormity of what our young quarterback has accomplished in such short period of time. And guys, believe me, when I say that, I mean that in a very positive sense, not from the standpoint of sitting here saying, “You don’t know what’s going on..”, etc. I’m actually humbled by the sheer volume of football knowledge that so many guys here have; that’s why I generally leave the discussion about X’s and O’s to other folks, who are much better students of the game than I am. I just go by what I see and what I read, and when any rookie QB wins three of his first four games, has a passer rating of a hundred and still has yet to throw the ball to someone in the wrong jersey after playing for an entire month, you’ve got to love that. As for his sore left thumb, forget about it — Flores is using that to buy the kid some time, to try and get the team’s offensive line to be able to actually block somebody better than my grandmother. I’m sure of it.

We talk about the defense winning games for him, and they certainly did win the first game, against the Rams. But aside from that one, let’s be real here — we’re talking about a defense that is giving up about four hundred yards a game to most teams. We’ve been down on the kid for not being at his best against the Denver Broncos, but did we really expect to win that game with them running for nearly two hundred yards against us? We can’t stop the run and can’t run the ball ourselves, and even Dan Marino often couldn’t win under those circumstances. We should be thrilled that the team finally has a true franchise quarterback, and can therefore concentrate on filling out the rest of the roster, instead of worrying so much about the quarterback position. When we look for holes in an athlete as doggedly as Dolphin fans have looked for holes in this kid, you know that means? It generally means that athlete is really, really good.

People tried to find holes in Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Peyton Manning, too. As for Tagovailoa’s modest yardage totals thus far, I want to bring to your attention a memorable game that took place 36 years ago today, on December 2nd, 1984, during Marino and the Dolphins’ Super Bowl season, against the Los Angeles Raiders. The Dolphins had 30 first downs in the game to the Raiders’ 18, and Marino threw for a ridiculous 470 yards that afternoon — yet Miami still lost the game, 45-34, in large part because of two costly interceptions thrown by Marino. In the first quarter, the Dolphins had a first and goal deep in Raiders’ territory, and were seemingly about to take a 7-0 lead. But Marino was intercepted by Hall of Fame CB Mike Haynes at the three yard line, and the nine time Pro Bowler took it 97 yards for a Raider touchdown.

So you wish the kid would be more of a gunslinger, and throw up more 50-50 balls? He’ll get there; he’s only started four games, without the benefit of a preseason and without even so much as a normal offseason or training camp. Due to our ubiquitous access to highlights, on the Internet and cable television, etc, we’ve been conditioned to believe that a successful NFL quarterback has to throw forty or fifty times a game for three or four hundred yards to be a star, but Tagovailoa is much more like a Joe Montana or Tom Brady than a Dan Marino or Dan Fouts, etc. What the kid excels at is his attention to detail, to reading the field and doing all the little things right, making amazingly accurate throws, ball placement, hitting receivers in stride, looking off the defensive backs, etc. It sounds so simple, but there are quarterbacks who have been in the league for years (like Fitzpatrick, for example) who don’t do some of those things as well as Tagovailoa did in his first couple of starts. The kid just wins; he won in little league, he won in high school, he won in college, including a National Championship as a true freshman, and you can rest assured that he will win in the NFL.

It wasn’t all that long ago that if anyone dared say a bad word about Ryan Tannehill on this site, guys would come out in the comments section with pitchforks and baseball bats, but I learned something interesting recently: according to a Chicago beat writer who covers the Bears, through both players’ first 45 games, Mitchell Trubisky, whom Chicago has already given up on, had a passer rating a full three points higher than Tannehill did over the same period in his career. We also badly misread and misconstrued the entire Josh Rosen trade and his standing in the Dolphins organization throughout his time in South Florida.

The odds of the original team that drafts a QB giving up on him after just one season, and his going somewhere else and lighting up the scoreboard are extremely slim; that’s why Arizona let him go so cheaply. The Dolphins had no young quarterbacks of note when they traded for Rosen, so they took a flyer on him in a low risk, potentially high reward deal. But we acted as though our quarterback situation was completely solved as soon as the trade was announced, and even went so far as to suggest Miami didn’t need to draft a quarterback at all this year, because Rosen was so good.

Since Rosen was cut in August, the general managers of all 32 NFL teams have decided that he isn’t worth spending a game day roster spot on, even with numerous injuries to starting QB’s around the league. Yet, we’re still lamenting the team waiving him, even though he told the South Florida media two weeks earlier that he was looking forward to his next opportunity. Maybe it’s time we started showing that kind of support for the kid we drafted, and who is more talented than perhaps any quarterback we’ve had in our 55 year history. That’s the wrap for today, have a great week, everybody.