Dustin Foote: Alright Donovan, Tua Tagovailoa was just named the starter for the Miami Dolphins. They’ll face the Rams on November 1st after their bye week. Do you like the move to put Tua in now, just under halfway through the season?
Donovan Dooley: It’s too soon for Tua to take the reins down in Miami. While I believe he will become a generational talent because of his accuracy, the biggest thing for young quarterbacks in this league is circumstances. You.👏🏾 Must.👏🏾 Be👏🏾In 👏🏾The 👏🏾 Right👏🏾 Circumstance. And circumstances include timing.
If you don’t play this right and start Tua too soon, you could mess up 10 years of prosperity for your franchise.
DF: Tua time was expected to come to Miami this season. Those were the circumstances. We didn’t know when or where he would start, but we knew it was coming. Is it inconvenient that his first start will be against one of the league’s top defenses? Sure. But Tua will dramatically improve the Miami offense. He is, without question, an upgrade from Ryan Fitzpatrick. Look, I know Tua is injury prone and is just a year removed from hip surgery. But the leash has to come off at some point. After a bye week seems like the right time, no matter who the opponent is.
DD: Forcing a rookie quarterback to survive his first start against a defensive force like Aaron Donald and a corner as skilled as Jalen Ramsey. It’s never a good idea... ever!
The fact of the matter is this: Tua is known for trying to do too much in games. He often extends plays longer than he needs to and while that has given him some highlights that was also the reason for his hip injury a year ago. So you’re telling me you want him to play against bigger and faster dudes now, to run the risk of doing the same exact thing when he has literally only thrown TWO NFL PASSES! Not to mention they were in garbage time against a team coached by a man who has the football acumen of a pull-up diaper!!
DF: Yes. I want Tua to play in the NFL where bigger, faster, and stronger dudes exist. That’ll make him better.
We both agree that Tua has the potential to be an all-time QB in the league. But he doesn’t have to be a top talent in his first year. Take Peyton Manning. He went 3-13 in his rookie season with the Colts and his numbers were atrocious. He got hit. A lot. Tua played against the best competition in college football and faced the best defense in the SEC in Alabama practices. The guy is up to the test. We don’t need to treat him with white gloves anymore.
DD: Listen, it’s one thing to be overly cautious with someone and then it’s another thing to put them out there when they haven’t even seen enough defensive coverages to be able to have a confident understanding of what SHOULD be happening on the field. You used the Peyton example, I’ll raise you one better.
You ever heard of this guy named Patrick Mahomes? He’s got like the richest contract in professional sports history, he’s an MVP and a Super Bowl champion after being in the league barely longer than Trump’s press secretaries stay in the White House. What did he do for the majority of his rookie season? He sat his tail down right behind Alex Smith in Kansas City until he got to play at the END of the season when he had MONTHS of game study to help prepare him for his breakout NFL season in 2018. Your boy Peyton had no choice, he was the only option Indianapolis had at the time to look better than a Christian private school’s JV team. His situation is way more synonymous to what Joe Burrow will be doing through this year.
And when you have a veteran quarterback like Fitzpatrick who is playing relatively well this season and has led you to second place in your division over BILL BELICHICK and the Patriots then you don’t have to make rash decisions the same way Cincinnati and Indianapolis were forced to do with their top quarterbacks.
DF: Let’s talk about Patrick Mahomes and Alex Smith. I’m glad you brought that up. When Mahomes was drafted in ‘17 Smith was coming off back-to-back playoff seasons and a Pro Bowl appearance. In Smith’s four years in KC, the Chiefs never had a losing record. If you want to compare Alex Smith to Ryan Fitzpatrick, be my guest. But this is not the same situation. Fitzpatrick-led teams are losers. Literally. In his 16 years as an NFL journeyman, he has led one team, the 2010 Jets, to a winning record. Yes, the Dolphins are 3-3 after wins against the Jags, Niners, and Jets. Bravo. New England is 2-3 and will overtake the Fins soon. There’s a lot of season left.
Mahomes learned a thing or two behind an actual stable QB. I think KC made the right decision. Fitzpatrick will still be a good mentor for Tua from the sidelines.
DD: I’m not here to argue the careers of Smith versus Fitzpatrick, I think everyone in this nation has better things to do with their time. My premise is simple: UNLESS YOU ARE FORCED TO, you don’t start Tua until you have an abundance of confidence that he is ready to take on this mantle. Let him learn under Fitzpatrick and not shove him out there when he’s thrown two passes against the Jets. People act like an abundance of knowledge and preparation isn’t a good thing?
DF: Forced to? Meaning Fitzpatrick gets hurt? Or (inevitably) plays poorly? Coach Flores knew Tua would be the future of the organization when he called the QB on draft night. Flores should be confident in his top prospect after Tua’s collegiate championship and overall success.
Of course “an abundance of knowledge” will help Tua. But I don’t see why Fitzpatrick can’t teach from the sidelines. Sometimes the best way to learn is physically getting in the game.
DD: Experience is the best teacher but people always forget the caveat in that.
You never learn anything from a test you haven’t studied for, all you do is fail.
We’ll see if Mr. Tagovailoa is truly ready for this stage come the start of November.