The Tua Tagovailoa Situation is Complicated for the Miami Dolphins

Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins’ playoff hopes met a bitter end, and the Deshaun Watson rumors leave them in quite the predicament.

Miami Dolphins, QB, Tua Tagovailoa
Miami Dolphins, QB, Tua Tagovailoa

Last Sunday, Miami’s matchup against the Tennessee Titans was hard to watch for Dolphins fans. In the blistering January cold, Tua Tagovailoa and Miami held an opportunity to keep their playoff hopes alive. A sense of “Maybe this team is different.” filled the air after being propelled by a seven-game winning streak. However, the result was as painful as it could get.

Although Miami’s defense held Tennessee to 17 points into the fourth quarter, they could only muster three of their own. The run game was abandoned far too early, even with Duke Johnson averaging seven yards per carry. However, the biggest disappointment of the game was at the quarterback position.

Tua struggled to push the ball down the field in the cold, wet weather. In several key moments, the ball slipped out of his hands, and he consistently missed receivers. In a game where Miami’s defense put their offensive counterparts in a position to succeed, they crumbled at the most crucial position in football.

Tua Tagovailoa fumbles against the Titans.

Now, rumors are beginning to fly, with controversial Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson at the center of them. Miami held interest last offseason, and it picked up at the trade deadline. With Watson’s cases and grand jury investigation seeing a potential conclusion soon, the interest is expected to remain.

This issue has divided Miami’s fanbase from the beginning, with the half who believe that Tua can become the franchise quarterback and the other large group considering his physical tools aren’t compensated enough by his football mind. Both sides have valid arguments, which makes this decision so difficult.

The Expectations

Since arriving in Miami, Tua has been put under the microscope. Like many rookie quarterbacks, the fanbase and coaching staff are looking to find their next leader. However, Miami’s search has been different. While looking for their next face of the franchise, they’re still looking for the replacement for Hall of Famer Dan Marino.

Since Marino retired in 2000, Miami has seen the likes of Jay Fiedler, Chad Henne, and Ryan Tannehill all crowned as successors. However, fans had hope when Miami selected Tua Tagovailoa almost two years ago, with none panning out the way we had hoped.

Coming from Alabama, Tagovailoa had a winning reputation, being one of coach Nick Saban’s favorite players to coach, and helping him bring home a national title. Regarded as the most pro-ready passer in his class, Tua excelled with accuracy and anticipation. In addition, he operated the RPO offense at a high level in college, and many believed it would transfer to the NFL.

With the shadow of Dan Marino still lurking from 20 years ago, it was time for the next great Dolphins QB to reveal himself.

The Good

Through his first 20 starts, Tua has shown flashes of his collegiate self. His accuracy has been promising, with the anticipation growing as he learns the offense. However, the most impressive trait has been his ability to move within the pocket.

With the 32nd ranked offensive line this season, the time has been limited for the Dolphins signal-caller. He’s constantly trying to avoid pressure while having to get the ball out quick to his playmakers. Yet, even with the struggles around him, he has uncovered an impressive skill to maintain composure within the pocket.

When defenders come off the edge, Tua has excelled at identifying and avoiding them while keeping his eyes up-field. While previous quarterbacks, namely Ryan Tannehill, struggled in this area, Tua thrived. He has made solid completions or runs out of plays that looked doomed from the start on multiple occasions. An essential skill in the modern NFL is staying composed, and he does it well.

Along with that, many of his key traits have remained. For example, he has been efficient in the RPO system, making the right decision often. In addition, his ability to limit turnovers has been solid, as he averages less than an interception per game. However, this limited risk makes him have some concerns for his future in Miami.

The Bad

Although there have been some signs he can lead Miami into the playoffs, it hasn’t come together for Tua. The traits have appeared at times but not consistently. Also, his weaknesses look to have been exacerbated on the NFL level.

It was well documented that his arm wasn’t as strong as fellow 2020 class quarterbacks Justin Herbert and Jordan Love before entering the NFL. However, it was seen as something he could overcome by outthinking the defenses. Unfortunately, it seems that neither have those have been the case.

Time and time again, Tua has struggled to push the ball down the field. His deep passes, which he rarely attempts, are typically underthrown and don’t garner good results. He has thrown several ugly interceptions on deep attempts, with several more bad throws of 20+ yards. When compared to Herbert, who was drafted one pick later, who is already one of the best deep passers in the league, it seems that the Dolphins young QB is lagging.

Tua Tagovailoa & Reading the Field

Another area in which Tagovailoa has struggled, which was not anticipated in college, is reading the field. Being one of the most efficient collegiate quarterbacks ever, many believed Tua could make full-field reads and be a traditional pocket passer. However, the more he plays, many of those reads came from the Alabama RPO system, in which he was throwing to the likes of Jerry Jeudy, Devonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle.

When given time to make reads, he typically holds the ball for a long time, and as pressure starts to come up the middle, he fades on throws. In addition, he rarely trusts his eyes, often double-clutching on the correct read. As a result, his confidence in himself and his receivers dissipates outside of the quick game.

When Tagovailoa has had less than 2.5 seconds in the pocket, he combined for 20 touchdowns and six interceptions. However, the numbers drop drastically to a 9:9 ratio when he has more. His ability to make the right throw on traditional dropbacks suffers significantly after the first read and is a significant cause of Miami’s struggles.

The Bottom Line

Miami faces a quarterback controversy at, quite possibly, the worst possible time. The draft doesn’t seem to be an option for a quarterback class that many consider bereft of top-flight talent. However, the trade market is expected to be hot, with the Watson mentioned above and Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers possibly being on the move.

The issue, primarily, is the Dolphins’ title contention window. This season has shown that Miami still has needed along the offensive line and skill positions. If they were to trade for Watson, they would have closed one need while leaving several more open. While it’s possible to attract free agents, they also need money to re-sign their players and their draft class. There will still be holes in many of the same places as years prior.

Although, there is something to be said about elite quarterbacks, which Watson elevates play around them. It’s possible, with better talent at the helm, that many of these players will begin to develop as expected. The pull Miami has may also see many free agents looking to join a young QB with a stellar defense.

Whether you believe in Tua Tagovailoa or not, these next few months will be crucial to his future. Watson’s verdict will most likely be reached, and Miami will most definitely have some level of interest. The question of how much has yet to be answered, but Miami may see their 24th starting quarterback since Dan Marino.

*Top photo: Tua Tagovailoa – Getty Images

Miami Dolphins: It’s Time to Blow It Up

The Dolphins are 1-7 in their first year with expectations, and it’s time for them to admit they were wrong and start over.

Miami Dolphins

Nearly two months ago, the Miami Dolphins marched into Gillette Stadium and escaped Foxborough with a one point win.

Since then, they haven’t won a game. The Dolphins have been outscored by 96 points, and are sitting at the bottom of the AFC.

This comes off a 2020 season where Miami over exceeded by winning 10 games. The Dolphins had the 4th ranked scoring defense, and were viewed as a team on the rise.

However, a series of missteps have culminated in a 1-7 record and a head-coach-GM tandem that’s now regarded as a failure. These major mistakes have changed the narrative of the franchise.

Offensive Line

Current general manager Chris Grier has had several positions in his 21 year tenure with the Miami Dolphins. Grier became the GM in 2016, and has held significant power ever since.

Chris Grier has failed to assemble a competent OL.

In that five-year span, Grier has failed to put it together in the trenches. Miami’s offensive line has consistently been below average. Draft picks and free agent pickups at those positions are struggling to find their way in the NFL.

Since entering the GM position, Grier as drafted nine offensive linemen. Only one of them, Laremy Tunsil, has made a Pro Bowl. Three of them have struggled to find playing time (Isaac Asiata, Isaiah Prince, Larnel Coleman). The rest have been playing on the field but producing a unit regarded as among the worst in the league.

This problem would not have been an issue if Grier had brought in any of the several veteran linemen that were made available over the last few offseason.

Linemen such as Orlando Brown, Corey Linsley, Trent Williams, and Joe Thuney have all changed teams over the last few years. There were no reports about Miami in play and Miami has refused to make an effort to sign anyone of their caliber.

Rather, Miami has went the route of saving money. Taking on chosen “cheaper talent” such as Matt Skura, Jesse Davis, and Ereck Flowers. Though, to his credit, Flowers has been serviceable for Washington since leaving Miami.

Ereck Flowers has been serviceabe in Washington.

The philosophy coming in was to work in all of the drafted OL’s together. However, Miami has no veterans to truly help develop them. This has resulted in a unit full of penalties, blown assignments, free rushers, and an injury to their young QB.

2020 Draft Picks

Among Miami’s young and struggling linemen, three of them were drafted in a year that was supposed to supply a treasure trove of future talent. After moving on from the aforementioned Tunsil and Minkah Fitzpatrick, Miami held five picks in the first two rounds.

With those five picks, Miami selected Tua Tagovailoa, Austin Jackson, Noah Igbinoghene, Robert Hunt and Raekwon Davis.

The first of which, whether you believe in him or not, has struggled. Tua was benched twice for his struggles last season. He was destined to take a step forward this season. It’s safe to say it hasn’t happened yet.

Fighting injuries and inconsistency, Tua is 1-3 as the starter. He’s had some good throws right into WR’s hands, while also having questionable throws leading to interceptions.

Austin Jackson and Noah Igbinoghene, on the other hand, have been far worse. In Jacksons first 21 games, he was seen unfit to play tackle, and has currently moved to guard.

He has had some hiccups at guard but is slowly improving. It is notable that it took the coaching staff this many games to try him at guard.

An Austin Jackson missed block leads to a Tua Tagovailoa INT.

Noah Igbinoghene has not been given the same chance as Austin Jackson has. Igbinoghene has appeared in only two games this season, mainly seeing time when other defensive backs are out.

Igbinoghene’s name has been called in mostly disappointing results, consistently being picked on by opposing QB’s.

The Dolphins passed on Jonathan Taylor for Noah Igbinoghene.

The 2nd round picks (Hunt and Davis), unlike the first three, have shown their potential. They have also shown inconsistency, with neither making the jump fans and analysts hoped to see.

This 2020 draft class was one Miami hoped to hang their hat on; thus far, it has the makings of a potential disaster.

Offensive Coordinators

While Chris Grier can largely be to blame for the first two issues, Flores may be at fault for the most recent.

Since entering the league in 2019, Flores has had four offensive coordinators. The turnstiles of OC’s have led to the Dolphins offense not being able to produce efficiently. The Dolphins have not had a top scoring offense; they have been in the bottom five the last few years.

Former Dolphins OC Chad O’Shea was fired in 2019 for what was rumored to be a “difficult system” to comprehend. Many questioned O’Shea being let go, with his replacement being just as head-scratching.

Chad O’Shea’s firing was head scratching to many.

In the 2020 offseason, Miami brought Chan Gailey out of retirement to help groom their rookie QB.

Contrary to their plan, Gailey didn’t click with Tua, and the playbook looked significantly different when Ryan Fitzpatrick, who had success with Gailey in New York, was at the helm.

Miami struggled heavily to truly compete with the high powered offenses with Gailey’s seemingly antiquated system.

So when the Dolphins missed the playoffs, in 2020, it was time to find another OC.

Intriguing candidates such as Mike McDaniel, Pep Hamilton, and Matt Canada all received interviews. Miami shocked everyone by going with two internal hires, George Godsey and Eric Studesville.

The Dolphins Offensive Staff has changed year to year.

Many were hesitant to believe the two former assistants could call a top-tier offensive scheme. So far, the hesitation has become reality. Miami is bottom five in scoring, and most recently put up 11 points on the division rival Buffalo Bills.

Once looked upon as a future star HC, Brian Flores has failed to solve his offensive coaching woes. The future does not look promising.

The Watson Saga

The newest domino to fall in the slew of missteps has been the handling of Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson’s trade request.

Following a formal request in January, Miami had shown interest, and for good reason. Watson threw 33 touchdowns in 2020 and was regarded as a top 5 quarterback.

But, beginning in March, Watson began to face civil and criminal accusations from more than 20 women of sexual misconduct, which is when Miami had a choice to make:

Commit to your 2nd year QB or continue your pursuit of a troubled, potentially criminal player, disrupting Tua’s confidence and in turn, your whole franchise.

Miami chose the second option. Allowing the Dolphins to be the subject of trade rumors into the season, persisting in their attempts to grab another young QB when they already had one who they drafted 16 months ago still on the roster.

Thus, Brian Flores, Tua Tagovailoa, Chris Grier, and more Dolphins players and staff have been berated with questions about a player who shouldn’t be of any concern.

Tua chimes in on the Watson rumors.

Now, rumors have continued to fly, with the newest comming from lawyer Tony Buzbee. Buzbee claims owner Stephen Ross and the Dolphins may have made an attempt to pay off the women involved in exchange for a settlement and/or NDA. Chris Grier has adamantly denied these rumors.

Chris Grier denies rumors of influencing Watson’s cases.

With Miami declining to make the deal before the deadline, it’s still Tua time in Miami. However, the Watson talk will pick right back up in the offseason, where Miami will have to make the same decision they did this year.

The Bottom Line

Since becoming the main sources of power in the Miami Dolphins organization, Chris Grier and Brian Flores have made some crucial mistakes.

Whether it’s drafting raw players, failing to address the offensive line and coordinator, or letting the Deshaun Watson rumors hang over their head, Miami’s small decisions have spiraled out of control.

It’s gotten to a point where this regime is running out of time, and it may be better off starting over under new leadership.

Miami’s decisions over the next few months will be telling, and it will be intriguing to see if Grier and Flores remain at the helm.

Follow Tyler DeSena on Twitter

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5 Key Plays from Tua Tagovailoa vs. Falcons

Tua Tagovailoa threw 4 TDs vs the Atlanta Falcons, and 5 plays tell the story of his intriguing performance

Tough.

The Dolphins are now 1-6 on the year, falling 30-28 to the Atlanta Falcons on a game winning field goal. The Dolphins are now 1-6 on the year.

What you’ll find was hidden in another Miami loss to a sub .500 team is a really good performance from 2nd year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who has been in the headlines for a variety of reasons, including potential trades for Deshaun Watson.

In the meantime, Tua is the QB, and we can only base projections off of the roster right now. Tua made great plays, especially in the 4th quarter. He helped the Dolphins come back from down 13 to take the lead with under 4 minutes left.

The story of this game is one of elite traits, signs of development fighting adversity, and mistakes to improve on, and these five plays tell that story.

Pocket Presence

Going into the season, Miami’s offensive line was a major question mark. The Dolphins were starting second year players to start the year and the growing pains were noticeable.

Miami was forced to shuffle around their line in an attempt to find something that sticks. In doing so, they weren’t able to find much improvement.

Through 7 weeks, the Dolphins rank dead last in Pass Block Win Rate, per ESPN, with a whopping 47 percent. For reference, the Cleveland Browns are first with 73%.

Even with the adverse circumstances up front, Tua has been elite in the pocket, ranking near the bottom in sack rate. On several plays throughout the game, Tagovailoa was able to evade pressure and create positive yardage, including this scramble on 2nd and 8.

Tua Tagovailoa puts Deion Jones on skates.

With pressure coming off the edges, Tua makes a quick move, reminiscent of last year’s game vs. Arizona, gets past Deion Jones, and gets the first down.

Although he isn’t a “running QB”, Tagovailoa has shown on several occasions that he is willing to take off if that play breaks down.

“Keyhole” Accuracy

Entering the 2020 draft, Tagovailoa’s key trait was accuracy. At Alabama, he led a fast paced RPO offense, centered around hitting receivers in stride and letting them create yards after the catch.

Since Miami selected Tua #5 overall last year, the accuracy has stayed a point of emphasis, especially when he finds his rhythm.

It was much of the same against Atlanta, as Tua made several tight window throws, especially late in the game, that showed off his most impressive trait.

In the 4th quarter, when Miami was in desperate need of a touchdown drive, Tua started out with an outstanding touch throw.

Tua Tagovailoa threads the needle to Durham Smythe.

Tight end Durham Smythe runs a wheel concept, in which the receiver runs out towards the boundary, then up the field, and Tagovailoa is able to anticipate him reaching a soft spot in the coverage. Upon seeing this, Tua was able to float a pass in a perfect spot for Smythe to make a play on the ball, which he did, for a gain of 18.

Tagovailoa has continued to show that his accuracy is up to the challenge when Miami needs him most.

Fighting Adversity

Earlier this week, Mack Hollins let the world know what he thought of his young QB.

Mack Hollins calls Tua “that dude”

Hollins has a point, as we were able to see Tua’s ability to fight adversity to put Miami in a position to win the game. Some of which included his own mistakes

On the same drive as the throw to Smythe, Tagovailoa made a crucial run on third down, showing that he is willing to put his body on the line for the sake of the team.

Tua Tagovailoa lays the BOOM for a first down.

Sensing pressure coming from the edges, Tua stepped out of the pocket, and lowered his shoulder in order to pick up a crucial first down. Many were looking to see the “dog” in Tua, and we got a glimpse of it last week.

Just Keep Fighting

The next play is less of a show of Tua’s out of structure talent, but more his ability to execute clever plays perfectly if they’re run more.

On his last throw of the game, Miami ran a fake end around, getting the defensive line to commit to Jaylen Waddle’s speed and explosiveness.

After selling the fake to perfection, Tagovailoa rolls out, being able to place a ball in between 2 defenders in the back of the end zone for a lead-taking TD.

Tua Tagovailoa fakes the end around for a TD to Hollins.

Miami hasn’t used much creativity in their playcalling for Tua, and with less to lose, I hope we can see more plays like this.

Area of Improvement

Through his first 3 full games of the season, Tagovailoa’s growth has been noticeable. Unlike his rookie year, he has been much more willing to take chances in the intermediate game.

Even with his growth, there has been a consistent issue in his game: the inability to let plays die.

At several points throughout the games, Tua has made plays outside of structure, which he struggled with in 2020.

Although, there have been times when this has come back to bite him, and this game was no different.

Tua throws an INT.

Although many argue that Waddle is to blame for Tua’s second INT, interior pressure (which he has struggled with), was bearing down, and in the midst of being sacked, Tua let a ball go a bit high.

Another view of Tua’s INT.

While some believe Waddle could have made a play, the ball should never have been thrown.

Nonetheless, Tua must learn to play another down if he is to take the next step Miami hopes he will make.

The Bottom Line

In a year where Miami probably won’t make the playoffs, development is very important. Tua Tagovailoa is a prime example of that. Whether he’s in Miami’s long term plans or not, his and the Dolphins’ futures are somewhat reliant on his performance.

Although he wasn’t perfect, Tua showed that he has made great strides since his rookie year. Possessing some great accuracy, pocket presence, and ability to work in and out of structure, it is clear that Tagovailoa had one of the best games of his young career.

It will be exciting to see what he can do against Buffalo and other difficult teams down the stretch.

Follow Tyler DeSena on Twitter

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The Deshaun Watson-Miami Dolphins Saga

We’ve heard it for nine months, but Watson to Miami chats are heating up again. The Dolphins would be risking too much to make it happen.

Deshaun Watson Miami Dolphins Saga
Credit: Miami Herald

The Build Up

The Deshaun Watson-Miami Dolphins Saga started nine months ago when he officially requested a trade out of Houston. Since January 28th, the Dolphins have been rumored to be interested in the Pro Bowl QB.

Miami was heavily discussed among the national media when Watson’s preferred destinations became public and Miami was first on that list. The media questioned whether Chris Grier and Brian Flores believed in Tua Tagovailoa. They also thought Stephen Ross was pressing for Watson. Maybe it was everyone in the organization wanting Watson because he gave the team a better chance to compete for a Super Bowl now rather than a year or two later.

Everything became a lot more complicated in the spring, though. Between March 16th and April 14th, Deshaun Watson was accused of sexual assault and harrassment by 23 different women. Many expected Watson to be placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List until his legal matter was sorted out, but that didn’t happen(and still hasn’t). This would have shutdown trade talk as he wouldn’t have been able to play for the time being. 

The Watson to Miami rumors continued throughout the offseason, but finally cooled down a few weeks before the season started.

Well, that was until August 29th. Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports reported that the Miami Dolphins were frontrunners to land Deshaun Watson. The NFL world picked up right where they left off, debating what it would take for Miami to land Watson.

The Latest Updates

Over the first three weeks, talks about Watson to Miami had decreased again.

This time, it was Jay Glazer who dropped big news. On September 29th, Glazer tweeted Miami is still the most likely landing spot.

Glazer never said a deal was sure to get done. He just said that if a deal were to happen, Miami is the likeliest to make it happen. He then doubled down, telling fans to “keep an eye on this situation.” 

On September 30th, Alex Donno suggested a trade was very likely to happen and said Monday is the day it will get done.

Josina Anderson reported similar news soon after.

All of this could just be speculation and smokescreening. Alex Donno’s source is someone close to Nick Caserio. Could that be Caserio trying to drive up the asking price? There are way too many scenarios at this point to know what’s going to happen with Watson.

Is Watson an Upgrade over Tua Right Now?

Whether Watson would be an upgrade over Tua Tagovailoa at this point in time doesn’t seem to be much of a debate. Deshaun Watson has proven to be one of the best QB’s in the league when healthy and playing. 

Watson is a 3x Pro Bowler who has only improved as his career goes on. Last year, Watson threw for 4,823 yards and 33 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions. Watson is also a significant threat with his legs. Over the equivalent of 3.5 seasons, Watson has 1,677 yards on the ground and 17 touchdowns. 

The numbers and play speak for themselves. Watson can be a franchise QB for years to come.

Does this mean Tua Tagovailoa is a bust? No. Does it mean Tua can not become what Watson is? Also no. 

But at this point in time, Watson is a better QB than Tagovailoa. For that reason it’s understandable why Miami, or any team, would be doing their due diligence on Watson.

Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple and there are numerous risks involved.

Potential Risks of Bringing Deshaun Watson to the Miami Dolphins

There are numerous significant risks involved for the Miami Dolphins. Most of the risks all branch from one main issue: 23 sexual assault allegations.

  1. If Deshaun Watson is traded to the Miami Dolphins, his allegations will not disappear. Although he is able to play right now, it’s possible he’s placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List after a trade is made. This would make him ineligible to play. Yes, Miami would negotiate something in the deal that would void the trade if he isn’t able to play a snap; however, it’s a risk nonetheless.
  2. Since he isn’t already on the Exempt List, it could be fair to assume he won’t be placed on it until at least the end of this year. Assuming Watson can play immediately, he’d play 13 games at the most this year. After this season, his legal situation may still be undecided and put next seasons status in question.
  3. Miami would be giving up a lot of assets to secure Watson. According to the most recent reports, the Texans are asking for 3 first-round picks and 3 other assets. Those three other assets would likely be a variation of second and third round picks. Giving up 6 draft picks that could be used to build a deep team would be a major risk for an organization that seems to be headed in the right direction after 20 years of mediocrity.
  4. There’s also a risk from the long-term POV. If Tagovailoa develops into the QB we all know he is capable of being next year, this move will be questioned for years to come due to the amount Miami will have given up. Of course, it’s a risk in and of itself betting on Tua to reach a great level. However, from long-term, giving up 6 high picks and letting Tua become a great QB on another team would make the Watson move seem unnecessary in retrospect. The Dolphins are in year 2 of a rebuild, and don’t need to force success right now. They have time to see if Tagovailoa can develop into who they think he’s capable of being. 
  5. Innocent until proven guilty is a thing. At this moment, Deshaun Watson is innocent. But when a person has 23 allegations of sexual assault, giving up 6 picks and likely giving up on Tua Tagovailoa may not be a great look for the organization. Obviously, if Watson comes to Miami, the legal issues go away, and he wins, then all will be peaceful. But now, trading for him would reflect poorly on the organization.

Are the Risks Worth the Reward?

If someone told the Miami Dolphins management and staff that Deshaun Watson would constantly be top-5 QB in the league and the Dolphins would be Super Bowl Contenders for at least the next 10 years, they’d absolutely pull the trigger. They’d probably do it for more than “just” six picks.

Unfortunately, as I explained above, it isn’t that simple. 

When taking into account what Miami will have to give up, the backlash they’d face, and the fact that Watson’s legal matters are far from complete, a trade to Miami does not make sense.

In 2019, the Dolphins stripped their entire roster and were assembled to fail. The end goal was to have a high enough draft pick to select Tua Tagovailoa. They did exactly that. He started 9 games and went 6-3. 

This past offseason, the Dolphins added playmakers on the offense for Tua. They drafted Jaylen Waddle and signed Will Fuller. The Dolphins also named Charlie Frye their QB Coach. Frye has worked with Tua since high school. Co-OC’s George Godsey and Eric Studesville designed an offense to fit Tagovailoa that is RPO based. This offense allows him to use his accuracy and quick decision making to move the ball.

It’s been almost 18 months since Tagovailoa was drafted. He’s started 10 games, and won 7 of them. The organization has built around Tua as if he is the man of the future.

Risking the last 18 months of work and giving up a plethora of valuable future assets for a QB with an uncertain legal matter seems very dangerous. The reward would be huge(so would the price for that reward), but as of now, the risk is bigger.

Overall

We in the public have no clue what’s going to happen. We have heard this rumor more times than I can recall at this point. If it’s going to happen, it may get done as soon as Monday. But we’ve heard this so many times, it’s likely the same this time. Houston smokescreens, media narratives, and fan impatience seem to be driving this discussion more than anything.

Trading for Watson would require Miami to give up substantial future assets, be extremely confident that the legal matters will have absolutely no further impact on his NFL career, and likely mean giving up on Tua Tagovailoa.

That seems like a costly price to pay for anyone. 

The Dolphins should stick with Tua Tagovailoa and give him the opportunity to lead the team to the finish line this year. If they are displeased and ready to make a move, maybe Watson’s situation will have more clarity in the offseason. At that point, Houston may reach the point of trading him for far less than what they’re asking now.

At this point, it makes no sense for the Miami Dolphins to trade for Deshaun Watson.

Follow Rishi Desai on Twitter.

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Tua Tagovailoa is Developing Right Before Our Eyes

Miami selected QB Tua Tagovailoa in the 2020 NFL Draft, and his rookie season was up and down. But he is taking the strides needed to become a franchise QB.

22.

That’s the number of starting quarterbacks the Miami Dolphins have started since Dan Marino retired in 2000.

Names like Jay Fiedler, Dante Culpepper, Chad Pennington, Ryan Tannehill and Jay Cutler bring back painful memories for fans who were searching for Miami’s next franchise QB.

But number 22, 2020 first round pick Tua Tagovailoa, feels different than the rest.

After an up and down rookie campaign where he went 6-3 as the starter but was pulled in 2 starts, Tagovailoa’s future in Miami was questioned.

The prospect of trading for established QB’s such as Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, and Aaron Rodgers spread through the media like wildfire. Analysts were questioning Tua’s physical tools, believing that he didn’t have what it takes to play on the pro level. Every time a QB looked to be available, Miami was instantly named a top destination.

But through the controversy, Tagovailoa remained locked in on his craft.

Rehab

The first step in improving his game was getting back to the shape Tua was in when he was at Alabama.

Coming off of major hip surgery in 2019, Tagovailoa didn’t have the opportunity to train during the offseason. Instead, he had to do rehabilitation work on his hip, just to get to a level in which he could play in 2020.

But 2021 is a different story.

Working with renowned trainer Nick Hicks of PER4ORM gym, the former Alabama QB has been able to get to a condition beyond what he was in college.

Tua Tagovailoa has been working with Per4orm this offseason.

With the physical strength that Tagovailoa has been able to amass, the expectation is that he should be much stronger with his throwing motion. This seems to be working, as we have seen clips from camp of the second year QB making several deep passes, something he didn’t do much of in 2020.

Mental Leap

On top of his physical rehab, Tua Tagovailoa wanted to improve his processing, progression through reads, grasp of the playbook, and getting the ball out quicker.

As Tagovailoa stated in a press conference, he wasn’t fully comfortable with former Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey’s playbook. While much of that comes from the playbook not being a fit for his skillset, he still put maximum effort towards learning his new scheme, under George Godsey and Eric Studesville.

Chemistry and Accuracy

Along with learning the playbook, Tua was working on his chemistry with weapons, new and old. Going to the fields with guys such as Will Fuller, DeVante Parker, Albert Wilson, and Mack Hollins, Tagovailoa truly used the offseason to his advantage, gaining knowledge of the intricacies of his receiver’s game’s. Whether it’s their timing, route tree, where they want the ball, or just getting to know them, Tagovailoa has put effort into having strong relationships with his receivers.

This relationship is starting to show in both training camp and preseason. Tagovailoa’s accuracy, which stood out in college, looks second to none, and is improving as he figures out his receivers. He has been able to put the ball on them in stride, where they can make plays.

Tua Tagovailoa was throwing with precision, leading to YAC opportunities.

Similarly to what Tua did at Alabama, he has become the point guard of this Miami offense, putting pocket passes in the hands of guys who can make plays, like speedster Will Fuller, who has taken notice.

Will Fuller is impressed with Tua Tagovailoa’s accuracy.

Pocket Presence

Although Tua has made strides in categories such as accuracy and strength, few have been has big as his pocket presence. Known for making plays at Alabama, we saw flashes in Tagovailoa’s rookie year (such as the Cardinals game). Unlike previous Dolphins QB’s, his ability to see the pass rush before it gets to him looks like an elite trait, and it seems to have only gotten better in the preseason.

Tua Tagovailoa scrambles against the Cardinals.

On several occasions against the Falcons, Tagovailoa was able to make a subtle move and proceed to deliver a strike. His eyes remained up, even though the pocket was collapsing around him, and he was able to make the correct read. Even with many of his snaps coming against pressure, he was still able to put up impressive numbers.

Tua Tagovailoa makes an impressive throw with pressure coming in.
Tua Tagovailoa was great against pressure against the Falcons.

Although this ability was one that we knew Tua had in him, it’s impressive to see it as he returns to the “Tuscaloosa Tua” that we saw in college.

Brian Baldinger breaks down Tua Tagovailoa.

Leadership

Although the physical traits are flashing on film and in practice, the MOST important developments that we have seen from him are newfound senses of confidence and leadership.

In 2020, it seemed like things were largely set up for a lack of confidence from the rookie QB. He was coming off of major hip surgery, he had a COVID-19 shortened offseason, his offensive coordinator ran a scheme he didn’t feel comfortable with, and the QB who was supposed to mentor him was put in twice to replace him.

But 2021 is a different year, and largely, a different Tua. Teammates and coaches have raved about how confident he is in the offense, and how willing he is to lead, and it has shown in the preseason. He has taken more shots down the field, and has even implemented some elements into Miami’s offense.

Tua Tagoviloa pressed the issue of getting to the line quickly.
Tua has an instructional conversation with Jaylen Waddle and Jakeem Grant.

As stated before, he had also arranged meetings with his teammates during the offseason, citing the need to get a better understanding of the offense.

Tua Tagovailoa works with his receivers during this offseason.

It looks like this taking of initiative is working, as countless teammates have spoken on rallying behind him and their willingness to play with him.

Mike Gesicki cites Tua’s leadership skills.

2021 and Beyond

Although Miami has had struggles with the Quarterback position in the past, Tua Tagovailoa is looking be the outlier. His willingness to get better, physically, mentally, and as a leader is something Dolphins fans haven’t seen since Dan Marino hung up the cleats in 2000.

Thus far, it looks like Tua is taking the strides we expected when he was selected in 2020, and we can only hope they continue into the season. But if Tagovailoa keeps putting in the work he has this offseason, then QB number 22 will finally be the savior Dolphins fans believe him to be.