NFL teams don’t usually make a point to announce their starting quarterback every week. Unless your team’s signal caller is injured, or you’re the Bears, there is really no need to notify the fanbase about keeping the starting QB on the first string.
The Dolphins, however, let everyone know that their 37-year old starting QB through the first four weeks of the season will get another chance to play on Sunday.
Miami will keep Ryan Fitzpatrick on the first string despite Tua Tagovailoa waiting on the bench.
The fifth overall draft pick in this year’s NFL draft has not taken a snap this season but he will presumably start at some point this year. The fans know it, the Dolphins know it, and Miami coach, Brian Flores, knows it too.
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“No one is going to pressure me into doing anything,” Flores said yesterday, before the team made the announcement. “When we feel like he’s ready to go, we’ll put him in.”
Tagovailoa’s last competitive game was in November 2019, when he suffered a hip injury that ended his college career. Before that, the young QB suffered a series of injuries including a broken finger, a knee sprain and a high ankle sprain.
Miami knows they have to be careful with their best prospect in decades. Despite Tagovailoa being healthy enough to “check all the boxes from a medical standpoint,” Flores says there is still reason to be cautious about handing the reins to a young QB coming off a season ending injury.
“The players, essentially, they are my kids,” said Flores. “The honest thing for me is if [Tua] was my kid, and he had a serious injury like that, I wouldn’t want his coach to throw him in there because of media pressure or anything like that.”
But if now is not the right time to put Tua in, when will be?
The Dolphins are 1-3 and third in the AFC East. Their next games are against the injury riddled Niners (2-2), Broncos (1-3) and the Chargers (1-3). Miami’s bye is not until week 11. And, more importantly, the starting quarterback play thus far has been subpar.
Fitzpatrick is reliably inconsistent, as he has been for his entire career. The NFL journeyman threw three picks in his first game, then settled down the next week in a near win against the Bills. In week three, Fitz actually looked like the team starter in a blowout against Jacksonville but, the next week, he recorded his worst completion percentage of the season in a loss to Seattle. Through four games in 2020, he has been thoroughly mediocre with four touchdown passes, five interceptions, and an 83.5 rating.
Last year, Miami went with Josh Rosen over Fitzpatrick after the team started 0-2. The team then put their veteran back in, in week five. But this year may be different for the Dolphins. Once Tua steps in at QB, don’t expect Miami to put him back on the bench.
Tua is also sitting at a time when other rookie QB’s are showing out. Number one pick, Joe Burrow, and number six pick, Justin Herbert, have looked good considering the talent around them.
The potential for a Tua injury may haunt the coaching staff. But the Fins drafted the QB to be the future of the franchise. After nearly a year of rehab and four — now five — weeks learning from an experienced QB, the Dolphins should schedule Tua’s time soon.