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Josh Houtz joins ESPN Honolulu to talk Dolphins’ QB Tua Tagovailoa, Miami’s five-game winning streak

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New York Giants v Miami Dolphins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Yesterday, I joined The Bobby Curran Show on ESPN Honolulu to talk about quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the 6-7 Miami Dolphins, Brian Flores, Chris Grier, what position the Dolphins need to target in next April’s draft, and so much more.

Here’s a link to the FULL interview—which I will transcribe below.

(P.S. I transcribed this at 2 AM, so it’s probably best you just click the link and listen.)

Bobby Curran: I want to welcome our first guest of the morning; from The Phinsider in Miami, Josh Houtz joining us now. Josh, how are you?

Houtz: I’m doing great, Bobby. I’m glad I get to come on here and talk, Tua because at one point this year, I didn’t think we’d ever get the chance to talk again.

Bobby Curran: Well, I wasn’t sure if Tua was going to be there. If Brian Flores was going to be there. Whether Chris Grier would be around, I mean, I think there was certainly a time where things were in flux, but now, a five-game win streak and all seems okay... I am hearing still, oh, the Dolphins might still be interested in a trade, but I’m thinking, why? You certainly wouldn’t need to be based on the play of Tua Tagovailoa recently.

Houtz: Yeah, and I mean, I think that’s kind of how I felt, and a lot of Dolphins’ fans kind of felt all along. I mean, they never truly built around Tua to give him a chance. That offensive line is still a little bit in shambles. We know the weapons, so I can’t sit here and say fully, confidently that the Dolphins are now. “Tua is their guy! Tua is their guy!” But now that the trade deadline has passed, after losing seven in a row, now they continue to win. A 5-game win streak, and you have to think that has something to do with it.”

Bobby Curran: “Well, I just have noticed something, and I think Logan Ryan of the Giants has made some snarky comment after the Dolphins beat them last Sunday that anyone can throw 6 or 7 yard passes. Which Tua was undoubtedly doing. But I just think, if the Giants weren’t going to cover it, Miami does not have much of a run game. It’s still a lousy offensive line. They basically got into a pass, control the clock through passing, and I think it was extremely well executed.”

Houtz: “ I completely agree, and I don’t see anything wrong with the way the Dolphins moved the ball. Yes, Tua looked like a surgeon at times with those short and intermediate passes, but I mean, going back to Alabama, that was some of the stuff he did so well. I just find it funny. This week it was Logan Ryan. I think a few weeks ago, it was another defensive player that took a stab at him. So, Um…if you can’t stop it, what’s the problem here? I think the Dolphins are finally starting to get in a rhythm here, and you’re right, they’re finally starting to mask that poor offensive line and run game by using some of those quick and intermediate passes.”

Bobby Curran: Well, it worked beautifully, I thought, and Tua is incredibly accurate. I think his most significant attribute might be accuracy, that, and his composure. Because he never gets razzled…has anyone else noticed that? Let me ask you this, has the media started to come around to Tua in the general Miami area.”

Houtz: “They are. I think the media is starting to come aboard. They’re finally starting to realize why this fanbase was so rabid when they took a stab at Tua or threw some type of shade. I think they are finally coming around to Tua. And to your point, it was the accuracy. It always was the way he moved around in the pocket. Credit to the Giants. They did rattle him a little bit. But he went out there, completed 30/41 for 244 yards and two touchdowns, many people would say he was a little off that game, but that just speaks to the volume of how far he’s come since that trade deadline. Since earlier in the season when we talked. He looks like a legitimate NFL quarterback now, and earlier in the year, many NFL media pundits may have been saying otherwise.”

Bobby Curran: “You know, there was a point in the game where I was watching; it was carried in Hawaii. He was 17/20 at one point in the game. That’s 85%. I think he finished at 73% or something, but we’re talking about a guy whose accuracy is not in question. I know some people want to say, “why doesn’t he go downfield more. That nice touchdown to the backup TE I thought was pretty good. That was a big-time throw.”

Houtz: “yeah, he made a bunch of big-time throws these last few weeks. And again, it goes back to the offensive line. He had what? 2.33 seconds to throw the football. This is the first game he’s had DVP back in how many weeks. Will fuller was the big offseason target, and he hasn’t been out there. So really, all they did this offseason was bring in Jaylon Waddle for Tua. And I say only, but Jaylen Waddle has been phenomenal. But when you only have Waddle to target and the o-line, I really don’t think there are many big plays downfield. But hopefully, with time, with the better offensive line. Maybe next year, with a legit running back, those big plays do open up, and we do see Tua unleash part of his game that we haven’t really seen yet in the NFL.

Bobby Curran: “I think it’s coming. I think it’s baby steps. I think while the Dolphins are winning, if I’m Brian Flores, I’m not changing anything. I just like the way they’re able to compile wins. They’re in the playoff hunt!”

Houtz: “They are. They’re in the Hunt. Dolphins fans are trying not to get too excited, but they are. They won 5 in a row. They got the BYE coming up, then the New York Jets. The Saints look like they could be beatable, and then the Titans and the Pats to finish the season. So, a little bit of a rocky end to the season, but if they can keep it up, by playing great defense and Tua going out there and limiting those mistakes, and again, just looking like a surgeon out there at times. He knows where he’s going with the football, and he puts it there perfectly…I’m over the moon excited for what I’ve seen out of Tua the last few weeks.

Bobby Curran: “Let me ask you your opinion. Because very soon, in a few months, we’re going to start kind of pointing toward the upcoming draft. Where does Miami need to go in that draft? And will Chris Grier be around to oversee it?

Houtz: “The last part is a good question. I know a lot of this fanbase wants Chris Grier held accountable for some of the poor decisions he’s made. But at the same time, you see Jaelan Phillips playing lights out, Jevon Holland, and Jaylen Waddle, so last year’s draft class has been pretty good. I don’t know if he’s around, but they immediately need to get a left tackle, a right tackle, they immediately have to fix those tackle spots…hopefully, Liam Eichenberg... they moved up for him last year. Hopefully, he would’ve transitioned better to left tackle. I don’t know what his long-term plan is there, but the Dolphins absolutely have to fix the offensive line, and that starts with the tackle positions. And then on defense, linebackers are probably the biggest need there. I think today. Zack Cunningham got released. He’s a player Dolphins fans are going crazy for. There are some pieces out there, but I think, focus on the linebacker, focus on that offensive line…and I left out running back. You need to get a running back. Myles Gaskin is fine. He can do some things. He’s capable. I’d rather have him as a compliment to one of those top-tier backs in next April’s draft.

Bobby Curran: “You’ll be able to find, this is the thing, it’s been widely said before, but you can find a very able running back in the 4th/5th round. Sometimes there’s very little difference between the guy you grab in the second round and the guy in the 5th.

Houtz: “Hard to argue with that. And I guess that’s maybe why the Dolphins haven’t addressed the position. I keep going back to two years ago when the Dolphins drafted Tua— they used that last pick, the what, 30th pick on Noah Igbinoghene, who’s now playing special teams, and that could’ve been Jonathan Taylor. So, they had some opportunities to upgrade the RB position, but I think heading into next year, those will be the three positions they target most.

Bobby Curran: “Okay, let us take a look. I look at it this way when they play the Patriots. Is that their last game of the season?

Houtz: “It is, yep.”

Bobby Curran: “I mean, If I’m the Dolphins, I’m just going to tell that team. “Hey, when you weren’t playing that well, you beat the Patriots.”

Houtz: “Right!”

Bobby Curran: “So, you’re playing a lot better now than you were then.”

Houtz: “I think that the Dolphins, even looking back at week one when they did beat the Patriots, this team has come so far since then. This defense has really clamped down. I know a lot of our talk is about Tua and that offense finally going out there and executing and winning games. But the way this defense is playing, they’re playing with their hair on fire. Jaelan Phillips broke the rookie record with sacks. Jevon Holland looks like a stud. We have to give credit to that defense, because without them getting those takeaways, and getting the ball back for Tua, these wins wouldn’t be happening.

Bobby Curran: “Well, obviously, that’s absolutely critical. What’s your assessment of the job Brian Flores has done?

Houtz: “Earlier in the year, I was probably like everyone else. I was wondering what’s next? Why did they let this dark cloud, loom over this franchise? Why did they ruin this promising season? But you know, now that the trade deadline passed, you’re starting to get a different sense out of Miami. You’re starting to see players fight hard, show that they love this team. They love the camaraderie. They love one another. And despite everything that happened, at the end of the year, I do think Brian Flores will be retained. I think they keep Chris Grier. And they’re going to give these guys a fourth season. And I just hope that with everything that Tua’s proven so far and everything that he proves over the next four weeks is enough to show this franchise that you know, you don’t need to go out there and sell the farm for a guy for three of four first-round picks with so many questions when you get Tua Tagovailoa, the QB you wanted in the draft, right there in your lap. So, I think Brian Flores will be back.

Bobby Curran: “It’s funny because I’m hearing rumors. At first, it was all about Deshaun Watson, and obviously, Stephen Ross decided to get out of those sweepstakes, not to say the Dolphins couldn’t reenter again at some point, but lately, I’ve been hearing Russell Wilson rumors. And I’m thinking, really? People forget, before playing really well last week against San Francisco, he laid three bombs in a row. I just think the idea, the days of where you’d give up huge, a king’s ransom for Russell Wilson are long gone and I just don’t see that anymore.

Houtz: “I’m with you. I’ve heard rumors Aaron Rodgers is one of those vet QBs they might target, but you know, If you put them behind this offensive line they’re going to be in shambles. I think Tua masks a lot of the inabilities of the offensive line, and I think, you know, I like Tua. I don’t think they should go out there and try to sell the farm for anyone because then you’re giving up the assets to fix the offensive line or some of those other positions. So I don’t get any of it. But I have heard Russell Wilson, and I think what’s so funny about that is I think some people did cutups of Tua in college, and they literally flipped it so he was right-handed and everyone was like, That looks like Russell Wilson…so I don’t know, I think they need to give Tua Tagovailoa some time let him develop and let’s see where this thing can go.

Bobby Curran: I just think this is interesting because when they do play the patriots in that season finale, it could be a meaningful game, and Tua is facing the guy that could never beat Tua out at Alabama.

Houtz: “Yeah, and Tua hasn’t lost to the Patriots yet as he’s been the starting QB of the Dolphins. So, I had to throw that out there.

Bobby Curran: You know, it’s kinda funny. Because last Monday, I just thought it was fascinating the Patriots only decided to throw three passes with Mac Jones. I mean, he was 2/3 for 19 yards. I know it was incredibly windy and cold, but I just wonder if Tua was the QB would you take more chances? Kind of like Buffalo did. I’m not saying Tua has the arm…some people have questioned his arm strength, and I don’t get that…I think Tua can make all the throws, and he’s proved it in college.

Houtz: Yea, I mean, I guess I can see why some of the throws he’s made lately might put some doubt out there, but I laugh when you said Mac Jones because I was just wondering how the national media would’ve spun that had Tua went out there and only completed 2/3 passes and I thought it was funny that all of his passes were on the right side and Logan Ryan said he could throw 2-yard passes to the left side but Mac Jones apparently can’t.

Bobby Curran: “You know what, a lot is dictated by the results, and the Patriots won the darn game…Hey Josh, Thanks so much. I enjoyed having you on with us. Always good to talk to you. Have a great holiday!

Houtz: “You too, and I look forward to talking to you soon, Bobby, and enjoy your Christmas!”

TLDR: We like Tua. Brian Flores and Chris Grier’s future. Miami needs to draft/sign o-line, RB, LB. Mac Jones and the Pats. Some other stuff.

I hope you’re having a good day.