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Tua Tagovailoa make-or-break year? A look at recent Dolphins ‘busts’

Miami Dolphins Mandatory Minicamp Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins are headed into the second year of the Tua Tagovailoa era, and, as we have all seen, heard, and read, this is the make-or-break season for the 2020 fifth-overall pick. If he does not perform this season, it will be time to move on from him and start looking for the next franchise quarterback of the Dolphins. Clearly, nine starts as a rookie were enough to determine the fate of Tagovailoa and position the Dolphins as a team in need of a quarterback.

We have even seen speculation that head coach Brian Flores could be on the “hot seat” if the Dolphins - and Tagovailoa - do not perform this year.

This clearly is the year Tagovailoa has to take a leap forward, because he clearly would not have a future in the league if he does not become a star in his second season.

We have seen it too often in Miami where a player was highly touted, then proved he was a bust by the end of his second year. No player can become something special if he does not dominate his second time through an NFL season.

Ryan Tannehill was clearly a bust at quarterback. Look at his career and tell me that his 3,913 yards with 24 touchdowns and 17 interceptions on a 60.4 percent completion rate and an 81.7 passer rating in the season where he led the league with 58 sacks did not seal his fate as a bust. It is obvious he never stood a chance to make a Pro Bowl or become the franchise quarterback of a club.

Tight end Mike Gesicki needs to be run out of town. In his second season, he only caught 51 passes for 570 yards with five touchdowns. He will never be considered elite or be lauded as a potential Pro Bowl player.

Wide receiver DeVante Parker is also among the recent draft busts Miami has known they have as soon as their second season was completed. Parker only started eight games in his second campaign, though he did appear in 15 contests. He caught just 56 passes for 744 yards with four touchdowns. His career would never be one of highlights and 1,000 yard seasons, because his second season cemented him into being a bust.

Cornerback Xavien Howard was overmatched in his second season. Yes, he had four interceptions, but the 38th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft needs to be doing more in the secondary. He missed too many assignments and he took too many risks. He clearly would always be a liability for the Dolphins defense.

Growth is needed to be seen in the second season. All of those players above grew between their rookie campaign and their second year. There is no reason to think Tagovailoa will not see the same type of growth. But, all of those players became even better as they added additional years. Yes, Miami needs to see improved play from Tagovailoa this season - but that is true of every second-year player.

But, trying to declare a player’s second season a make-or-break year is unnecessary. Looking back at recent Dolphins players should make us all realize, snap judgements and hot takes do not reflect what could happen in the future.