Well, it’s late February, and that means we’re coming into the thick of draft season. With the Miami Dolphins at least going in with three first round picks and two second rounders, Dolphin fans are, or at least should be, more excited than ever. Or not. With all of the press pundits and draft prognosticators clamoring that Miami will, whether by trading up or with their fifth overall pick, select former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, large swaths of Dolphin fans, at least here on the Phinsider, seem bitterly disappointed, if not outright angry at this possibility.
What I want to do today is examine exactly why this is the case, and I guarantee you that it isn’t just Tagovailoa’s injury history that has so many fans so against his wearing a Dolphins uniform next season. Reports are already surfacing that the young quarterback’s hip injury wasn’t nearly as severe as initially feared, and that he’s ahead of schedule in his recovery from the subsequent surgery that cut his 2019 season short. So, you say he’s never played a full season? Neither did a lot of college players. In 1988, the Buffalo Bills selected former Oklahoma State running back Thurman Thomas in the second round, after Thomas’ surgically reconstructed left knee caused him to fall out of the first round. Thomas would go on to rush for more than twelve thousand yards in his career, and he would miss only six starts during his first eleven NFL seasons. Perhaps more than any other player, Thurman Thomas made the Bills’ high powered ‘K-Gun’ offense one of the most potent in the NFL, and helped propel Buffalo to four consecutive Super Bowls in the early 1990’s.
Psychologists tell us that very often, there are at least two reasons for many of the things we say, do and even believe: the reason we put forth to justify our support for or against something, and other reasons that we prefer not to talk about. In the case of Tua Tagovailoa, his injury history, lack of height and/or his playing on a very talented Alabama team are just the objections we like to put out there as reasons for not selecting him because they’re low hanging fruit, in my opinion. The ten thousand pound elephant in the room that no one seems to want to talk about is that we absolutely hate Alabama coach Nick Saban with a passion. And, to be sure, Saban is certainly not a guy who is difficult to dislike. He’s an arrogant jerk, treats his players like ten year olds and has had a ton of success the past few years. Most of all, though, we hate Nick Saban because he left the Dolphins to take the Alabama job after just two seasons, and lied on camera repeatedly about it on his way out the door. I’ll be the first to agree that he handled that entire situation about as badly as a person could have handled it; the right thing to do would have been to just say, ‘I can’t comment on that right now, guys, I’ve got a football team to coach’, etc. It’s not like the rumors started in October or anything. As I recall, it wasn’t until mid December that reports really started to pick up that he was leaving, so he only had a few games left in the season.
However, it’s not Nick Saban’s fault that the Dolphins, with few exceptions, have been absolute manure since the day he walked out the door. In 2007, the first season after his departure, Miami finished 1-15, gifting them with the first overall pick in 2008. And what did they do with it? They drafted a goddamn offensive lineman. SuperMario and I apparently don’t agree on many things (either that, or he waits to see what I’m going to say before deciding that he believes the opposite), but one thing I think we can both strongly agree on is that Jake Long was absolutely one of the worst draft picks in Miami Dolphins history. And this would still be true today even if Long had stayed healthy and gone to seven or eight Pro Bowls. Why? Because the Dolphins left quarterback Matt Ryan on the board, and the Atlanta Falcons smartly snapped him up two picks later. I’ve received considerable push-back on here in the past, when I’ve suggested that we made a mistake passing on Ryan in ‘08, but it’s hard not to agree with that today. Ryan took his team to the Super Bowl and would have won it had the coaching staff not given the game back to New England. When you’re up 28-3 in the third quarter of any game, you should win it, and it’s not Ryan’s fault that Atlanta laid down after that. He’s thrown for more than fifty thousand yards, has a career 94.6 rating and is a sure fire future Hall of Famer. If the Dolphins had been smart enough to take him when they had the chance — without having to give up any additional picks — we probably wouldn’t hate Nick Saban, and by extension, Tua Tagovailoa, nearly as much as we do today.
Like everyone else, I’m excited, curious and a little nervous about who the Dolphins will decide on as their quarterback of the future. I only know that it won’t be Josh Rosen and that Ryan Fitzpatrick is already in his late 30’s. Like everyone else, I also know that drafting Tua Tagovailoa, as it is with every quarterback not named Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck, comes with some risk. But someone on here made a very smart observation recently, when they said that there is just as much risk in passing on Tagovailoa as there is in drafting him. We don’t really want to see another Matt Ryan type situation unfold over the next dozen or so years, do we? I didn’t think so. Whatever the team decides to do at quarterback, I’m fine with, even if they take the scrawny, gangly Justin Herbert. That’s the wrap for today, everybody, have a great week.