The last few weeks have been a roller coaster ride for the 2020 Miami Dolphins— a team that won 10 games during an uncharacteristic NFL season— and their loyal fanbase.
Last week’s loss to the Buffalo Bills left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. Worst of all, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s less-than-stellar performance opened Pandora’s Box for the national media and all of their Muppets to discuss Miami’s quarterback situation.
A situation that Chris Grier was asked about several times during his end-of-the-season press conference, and as you can expect, he said exactly what any good general manager would say. Not a lot.
“Tua, we’re very happy with. He’s our starting quarterback. He did a nice job this year coming in as a rookie with no offseason and the challenges of dealing with all that. Very happy with him and looking forward to watching him progress here over the next – with an offseason here – going into next year. And for us, we’re not really talking about draft strategy or anything right now. The season just ended and we’re just going through our process like we do all the time and we’ll deal with that here in the future.”
Now you could sit here and dissect Grier’s comments word for word if you’d like. But what Grier did say is that Tagovailoa would be the starting QB in 2021. He failed to say whether or not he’d use the third-overall pick on a quarterback.
Which wasn’t exactly a five-star Yelp review for the Samoan Southpaw.
To add more fuel to the fire, SUPERSTAR quarterback Deshaun Watson is reportedly unhappy in Houston (or so they say) and has already been linked to Miami by ESPN’s Chris Mortenson, among others.
Sources say Watson could play hardball with Texans about a trade. His new $156 million contract includes a no-trade clause but informed speculation from a source is that he would consider the @MiamiDolphins in which Tua Tagovailoa and additional compensation goes to Houston.— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) January 10, 2021
First, let me say you are not a bad person for thinking Deshaun Watson would be worth a trade. After all, he is ALREADY one of the best quarterbacks in football, something many believe Tua Tagovailoa will quickly become.
However, the question you must ask yourself is this; would a blockbuster trade be the best thing for the team when you factor in draft picks and the salary cap ramifications? I really don’t know.
So no, I have no problem with Miami doing their due diligence on one of the best quarterbacks in football. But that DOES NOT mean I’m ready to give up on Tua Tagovailoa. Because like the title says, I still believe, and so should every one of you.
In Tua Tagovailoa I Trust
I know it might sound like I’m referring to Santa Claus, but there are many reasons why I still believe in Tua Tagovailoa. The first reason is quite simple: THE FILM DON’T LIE.
Throughout the year, I showcased the good and the bad of Tua Tagovailoa’s rookie season. At times, he looked much like the quarterback we fell in love with at Tuscaloosa. He made some throws that left you wondering, “how in the $&#^ ?!?” and we were reminded once again how fundamentally sound his mechanics and footwork are.
But to my surprise, it was his accuracy and decision making, at times, that left a lot to be desired. Some of that was affected by outside factors like offensive line play or a wide receiver’s inability to create separation. More often than not, Tua was not trusting his eyes or failed to adjust to what the defense was throwing at him.
Or, EXACTLY what you’d expect from a rookie quarterback.
Nevertheless, I think Tua’s nine career NFL starts can be broken down into three categories: Very Good, Average, Not Good.
If you want to watch EVERY DROPBACK from a specific game, click on the opponent’s name below!
Final stats: 6-3 record*. 186/290 1,814 yards, 14 total touchdowns, 5 interceptions.
If you disagree, that’s okay. But let’s not forget, this was his rookie season, and at the end of the day, he played like most rookie quarterbacks in NFL history. Maybe it’s because Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert set the bar so high, but this fanbase is treating Tua like he’s the second coming of John Beck—which clearly he is not.
How quickly they forget what Tua Tagovailoa looked like when he had a full complement of weapons at his disposal. pic.twitter.com/JVK9vyUtZy— Chris Kouffman (@ckparrot) January 5, 2021
History says R-E-L-A-X
One glance at Tagovailoa’s numbers compared to some of the top quarterbacks in football would be another reason to remain patient. Peyton Manning was dreadful his rookie season. He turned out okay. So too did the inaccurate QB in Buffalo, who looked like one of the best quarterbacks in football this season—after being surrounded with talent.
Peyton Manning Rookie Season:— Nick Owens (@NickLOwens) January 5, 2021
Games Played: 16
WR: Marvin Harrison
RB: Marshall Faulk
Tua Rookie Season:
Games Played: 10
WR: Devante Parker
RB: Myles Gaskin
Get Tua weapons & let him cook.
Another reason to remain patient is that, like me, you’re a simpleton that realizes he’s one year removed from an injury that many believed could have ended his career. Oh, and let’s not forget he was throwing the football to **checks notes** Mack Hollins, Jakeem Grant, Lynn Bowden Jr., Antonio Callaway, and insert wide receiver’s name here.
Here’s a nice breakdown on some Next-Gen Smart-Guy Stats:
Let’s be honest & take out emotion. You want Tua to throw faster, into more tight windows, to less open receivers than every successful QB. This is why I present the QB is NOT the issue. I’m not saying Tua is the best - just saying take a look at what he’s being asked @ckparrot pic.twitter.com/fXpNQukvHH— Smart Guy (@SmartJames1981) January 4, 2021
Now again, let me reiterate, Tua Tagovailoa was not perfect. But you can’t seriously look at his rookie season without taking into account the ever-changing group of skill players he was asked to work with.
Some of this may be the same regurgitated Ryan Tannehill excuses we used a decade ago, but even Tannehill didn’t garner this much hatred and criticism after one season. Maybe that’s because expectations were higher for Tua? Or maybe that’s because no one was clamoring for Tannehill as Quarterback 1 or called him a once-in-a-generation quarterback like I might have. However, I will not apologize, and to be completely honest, I still believe it with every core of my body.
Miami currently holds four top-50 draft picks in April’s Draft, and Stephen Ross has never been shy about opening up the checkbook. So the opportunity is there for this team to revamp the offense’s skill players this offseason completely. And that will fall directly on Chris Grier and the scouting department.
Because as we saw in 2020, it’s hard for Tua to cook without the freshest ingredients.
This saying infuriates some, but it’s true. Chan Gailey is now gone, and despite being the Dolphins ‘ top ScoRiNg OfFEnS SiNcE 1984’, it was best for all parties involved to part ways. Miami will probably promote from within (George Godsey) but could look at some outside candidates like Pep Hamilton, Anthony Lynn, and of course, Bill O’Brien, to name a few.
Flores is in search of his third offensive coordinator in as many years. But as some have said, no signing could impact this team's future more than what comes next. Which, as you can expect, affects no player more than the Dolphins starting quarterback.
felt like it had to be done. pic.twitter.com/ogY8xAuJiY— The Left Arm of God ™ (@LeftArmOfGod) December 21, 2020
In the end, none of this really matters.
What matters is that Tua Tagovailoa puts in the necessary work this offseason to get bigger, stronger, and faster. After all, while others were grinding hard to prepare for the draft, Tua was rehabbing. He and his receivers get the opportunity to develop chemistry this offseason and work on their craft.
Most importantly, Chris Grier and Brian Flores must surround Tagovailoa with the necessary talent. One look at what the New Orleans Saints did for Drew Brees over the last decade should be the recipe for success in Miami moving forward.
No matter what this offseason brings, I still believe in Tuanigamanuolepola Tagovailoa, and so should you.
Do you believe Tua Tagovailoa is the answer at QB for the Miami Dolphins?
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