The Miami Dolphins need to either win their next two games or they need a win and some help if they are going to find their way into the NFL playoffs this year. As of Monday, it now appears possible they will be looking to do it without starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Head coach Mike McDaniel confirmed during his Monday media availability that Tagovailoa developed concussion symptoms some time either Sunday night or Monday morning and has been entered into the league’s concussion protocols.
“I’m not totally sure,” McDaniel said of when Tagovailoa was injured. “This is something that just came across my plate a couple hours ago. As far as the game was concerned, no one recognized anything with regard to any sort of hit. I can’t really tell you exactly what it was. I’m not totally positive on that, but it was something that he met with the doctors today and discussed some symptoms and then from that, as you guys know, from there on, that’s between Tua and the doctors and we’ll move forward as information is projected towards us.”
McDaniel went on to explain that the doctors have not diagnosed Tagovailoa as having a concussion, but based on his symptoms, it was enough to trigger the NFL concussion protocols, designed to protect a player as best as possible from severe damage as a result of a head injury. “As much as I know, he’s displayed symptoms and they enacted the protocol, which is all that needs to happen before you have to, by the player’s health, go through that whole process as they should, so it’s a little early,” McDaniel stated. “Like I said, I only found out a couple hours ago.”
As for what to expect for the Dolphins this week as they prepare for a critical showdown with the New England Patriots, McDaniel said, “Yes, I believe [backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will receiver the majority of the reps in practice]. That and he had a great week of practice the week before.”
He continued, adding, “I mean, that’s one of the reasons you go and aggressively pursue a player like Teddy Bridgewater. And the team is, I expect them to do what is pretty difficult for a lot of people but no one really cares. This is something that we have all of our fortunes ahead of us, so it’s up to us to choose what we do with all the past experiences, move on to the next game, which in this case is the New England Patriots – a division rival that they’ve gone through their set of circumstances as well. So I think they’re going to respond the way I’d hope, which is fully embracing the challenge and going after it, really, really trying to rectify these past couple experiences that we’ve had on the field.”
The Dolphins have not ruled Tagovailoa out for Sunday’s game, however. McDaniel explained, “It’s too soon to really tell. You just know that someone goes into the protocol and you have to be ready to really do whatever with that. I know Teddy will prepare as though he’s starting and we’ll see as the week goes.”
This is the second time this season Tagovailoa has been in the concussion protocol. In Week 4, Tagovailoa hit his head on the turf during a Thursday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He immediately began to demonstrate a fencing posture after the hit, with his hands clinching in front of his body. He was carted off the field and transported by ambulance to a Cincinnati hospital where he was observed, then cleared to return to Miami with the team. He missed the next two games for the Dolphins before returning in Week 7.
After coming back, Tagovailoa admitted he was unconscious on the field after the hit and he did not have any memory from the play, with only some memory of the ambulance and the hospital.
“I just want guys to really be done right by the information we have, the science and all the medical expertise that we rely on,” McDaniel said of his concern for Tagovailoa and all of the team’s players. “I care very deeply about each and every player. I take that seriously, so I just want him to get healthy and have peace of mind in that regard. That’s first and foremost, and then whatever the circumstances are after, you deal with after. It’s about the human being and making sure he’s squared away.”
The Dolphins face the Patriots at 1 p.m. ET on Jan. 1. Tagovailoa’s status will be watched throughout the week.