Photo via: @MiamiDolphins/Twitter
The buzz around so many sports news studios at the moment is that not everyone on the Miami Dolphins roster is pleased with the team’s decision to commit to Tua Tagovailoa as the starting quarterback for next season. That is according to the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero, who spoke to three Dolphins players who confided anonymously, casting doubt on Tua’s talent and potential where the long-term future is concerned.
Salguero reports the players wanted to remain nameless because team coaches have told them they can’t express any serious concerns to the media. While they all agree the 22-year-old is a great teammate, they aren’t sure he has what it takes to develop into a top-tier QB in the NFL.
According to the report, players were so disenchanted after watching Tua in training camp, they assumed he would not be ready to play last year. The rookie joined the team’s training camp eight months after hip surgery and was cleared for full practice five weeks before the start of the season. He wasn’t selected as the starter in Week 1, playing backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Players were understood to have been surprised to see Fitzpatrick benched in favor of Tua prior to Week 8 and were pretty displeased after being told he wouldn’t be available for the crucial clash against the Buffalo Bills in Week 17, a game they lost 56-26. A win would have seen them sneak into the playoffs: one player feels they would have had a much better chance with Ryan directing from the back.
“We always think next man up no matter what,” he was quoted as saying. “But I saw Tua as the next man up because Fitz was better.”
It was even more puzzling for the players when they learned Tua would be the starting QB for 2021.
“Tua, we’re very happy with. He’s our starting quarterback,” GM Chris Grier told reporters in an end-of-season presser. “He did a nice job this year coming in as a rookie with no offseason and the challenges of dealing with all that. Very happy with him and looking forward to watching him progress here over the next – with an offseason here – going into next year. And for us, we’re not really talking about draft strategy or anything right now. The season just ended and we’re just going through our process like we do all the time and we’ll deal with that here in the future.”
Photo via: @MiamiDolphins/Twitter
“I understand what they said,” another player told Salguero. “But I don’t understand why.”
The NFL’s Divisional round is set to play out over the weekend, with the Bills poised to take on the Baltimore Ravens, the Los Angeles Rams to play the Green Bay Packers and the Tampa Buccaneers to face the New Orleans Saints. Reigning Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, will play the Cleveland Browns so betting is likely to be rife ahead of an action-packed couple of days.
Tua made nine starts in his rookie season and what’s left of his career remains to be seen. One player told Salguero he isn’t sure the former Alabama Crimson Tide star has enough in his arsenal to elevate his career or turn the Dolphins into a playoff team. Said player isn’t exactly fascinated by the youngster’s arm strength, passing speed, or the ability to make plays with his legs of the bat.
“The players also say they don’t see a special trait in Tagovailoa’s skill set beyond his accuracy,” the report adds.
“One defensive player said he isn’t impressed with Tagovailoa’s ball velocity or arm strength or ability to make off-schedule plays with his legs. So he ultimately questions whether Tagovailoa will ever be able to match the feats of other quarterbacks in the AFC such as Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson.
“’Those are the boys we got to beat, right?’” this player said. “’It looks right now like that’s going to be a big challenge’.”
Salguero’s report only contains information from three Dolphins players and, as of now, it’s unknown if there are other teammates who feel the same way about Tua. Of course, he could fashion some improvement this year and go on to show he has what it takes to become a top-level QB in the league.
The teammates in question remain hopeful over Tua’s future but it appears confidence is shallow.
The report itself will do very little to help the player’s own confidence in his ability. We imagine it will be a very uncomfortable period getting back into a locker room with players, some of whom he knows don’t believe in him, especially as he might be unaware as to who they are.