Having a veteran quarterback to serve as your backup behind a young passer is an important part of roster building for every NFL team. You are either the team who is developing their future franchise quarterback and has a veteran ready to step in and keep the ship level should an injury occur, or you are the team that has a franchise quarterback entrenched in the top spot on the depth chart and they have a young developing player behind him. It may be time to realize the Dolphins should be the latter, not the former.
Tua Tagovailoa has played well this year. He has the third-best completion percentage in the league (69.6 percent), the top yards per attempt mark in the league (9.0), and the third-best passer rating (109.9). He has established himself as the quarterback for the Dolphins, and the last two-and-a-half games, with Tagovailoa sidelined due to a concussion, should absolutely cement him in that role.
And if he is cemented in that role, the Dolphins need to start considering the second spot on the depth chart as a spot for a developmental quarterback over keeping a veteran in the position. In other words, it is time for Skylar Thompson to move ahead of Teddy Bridgewater on Miami’s depth chart.
Tagovailoa is expected to be back this week as the Dolphins prepare for a Sunday Night Football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Assuming he is back as the starter, and assuming Thompson, who sustained a hand injury in the first half against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, is healthy, moving Thompson into the number two position makes the most sense for Miami.
Bridgewater threw for 329 yards on a 9.7 yards per attempt average with two touchdowns and two interceptions on Sunday, coming in to replace Thompson after the injury. He finished with a 93.9 passer rating. Compare that to Thompson’s 89 yards, with an average of 6.8 yards per attempt and a 75.5 passer rating, and it would seem Bridgewater was clearly the better quarterback. But, tell me you did not watch the game without telling me you did not watch the game.
The Dolphins’ offense was stagnant and constipated under Bridgewater. On three possessions, Thompson directed the Dolphins' offense to 75 yards of offense. After his injury, the Bridgwater-led version of the offense picked up 88 yards on their next seven drives. Bridgewater was able to direct a 75-yard drive for a touchdown following that, then a 52-yard drive that ended with a fumble by receiver Jaylen Waddle, and an 83-yard drive for a touchdown near the end of the game, but those three drives were really the only time the Dolphins offense looked like it had any life in it under Bridgewater - and that is because Tyreek Hill, Waddle, and Mike Gesicki were able to make big plays to force the offense to move.
Under Bridgewater, Miami’s offense just does not look good. There is no rhythm to it. There are way too many passes to the line of scrimmage. Bridgewater does not look comfortable in the offense, and, at least to fans’ eyes, he does not look like he cares. While there can be a discussion of how prepared for this week Bridgewater was after sitting out practice all week working his way through the NFL concussion protocol, despite not having a concussion, the offense just does not feel right with him under center.
“It’s hard for everybody,” head coach Mike McDaniel said after the game of the difficulty for Bridgewater in not getting the starter reps in practice this past week. “Definitely not the ideal set of circumstances. It is unique to my NFL career with regard to the things that have happened probably in the last three weeks. Does that mean that because of that we’re unable to win the football game? It does not. I think the tape will be obvious to all the players. The hard part is when you invest, like I said — I was really pumped about the work week we had, and you don’t get the desired results. So you get to find out a lot about who you’re working with.”
All across social media, there were many comparisons of Bridgewater to former Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler on Sunday. Cutler had a reputation for not caring, and now Bridgewater is starting to get the same. Maybe that is unfair to Bridgewater. Maybe it was unfair to Cutler. But, the body language and the lack of urgency being shown, definitely makes it feel like Bridgewater is ambivalent about what he is doing out there.
The Dolphins need a backup quarterback who is going to come out there and keep the offense energized and ready to execute. They need someone who is going to use players like Hill, Waddle, and Gesicki as if they are explosive weapons, not the emergency outlet two yards behind the line of scrimmage, and expect them to convert a 3rd-and-9.
Miami appears to have their franchise quarterback in Tagovailoa. Now it might be time to move to a developing quarterback as the second-string option. Now might be the time to move to Thompson over Bridgewater.