The game with the most intrigue of the weekend turned into an absolute romp. Behind Lamar’s day, the Baltimore Ravens routed the visiting Chargers 34-6. The Ravens dominated both sides of the ball en route to a 5-1 record atop the AFC North. Baltimore’s had some close finishes this season, including last Monday night, but this was a surprising reprieve for Ravens faithful.
Game Recap: Total Offensive Domination
The early afternoon contest featured two of the hottest quarterbacks and MVP hopefuls Lamar Jackson and Justin Herbert. Both led potent, high scoring offenses and many predicted a shootout considering how porous both defenses have been all season. Instead, the Ravens jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and never looked back. Baltimore’s run game looked like the run game of old, steamrolling LA’s front seven with 187 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. Three separate running backs ran for a touchdown, including the recently elevated Le’Veon Bell. Jackson’s stats won’t blow up the stat sheet as they had the last few weeks but he was still patient in the pocket and placed the ball where it needed to be to keep drives alive. Essentially, Lamar’s game through the air was unnecessary to keep the Chargers reeling.
Game Recap: Defense Shows Up
It was Baltimore’s defense, however, that came up big. The Ravens D had been gashed all season long, and most predicted Herbert’s high flying Chargers would do the same. Instead, the defense continually got pressure on Herbert and completely shut down Austin Ekeler. DeShonn Elliott snagged his first interception of the year while tacking on a sack, proving to be one of the most versatile defenders in the league. Justin Houston also added a sack late in the game to put him ever closer to 100 career sacks.
The most interesting take from this contest? Despite the margin of victory, no single player dominated the game. This was an all around team victory and everyone contributed to the massive victory. Rookie receiver Rashod Bateman made his long anticipated debut and had 4 receptions for 29 yards but had an ugly drop in the 4th quarter that turned into an interception for the Chargers. Still, it’s nice to see the Ravens try to work their young receiver into the game. Lamar Jackson also made history by passing Dan Marino for most wins (35) by a quarterback before age 25. Another game, another record set.
Baltimore Ravens Next Matchup
As stated before, this win improves the Ravens to 5-1 while maintaining first place in the AFC North. Next up? A home game against the surprisingly hot Cincinnati Bengals in Baltimore’s first divisional game this season. The following week, the Ravens will go on a much needed bye. This was a massive win for the Baltimore Ravens before beginning a stretch of divisional games in late November-early December.
It is very clear that Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert is the real deal. Through five games this year, he’s thrown for 1,576 yards, and 13 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions.
Herbert’s recent play and Tagovailoa’s injury have led to people questioning whether Miami drafted the wrong player.
If Miami drafted Herbert, would we see the same Justin Herbert in Miami?
Before Tagovailoa suffered a severe hip injury, most scouts and draft experts had him as the consensus first pick. In 2019 the plan was obvious, Miami assembled their roster to fail.
They were going to have a high pick in the 2020 draft, and most people had believed since the start of the rebuild that the Dolphins were aiming to select Tagovailoa. The phrase “Tank For Tua” was seen all over social media and had even been mentioned in National media.
The local Miami media was calling the Dolphins to “Tank For Tua” on the second day of 2019.
Tagovailoa being the consensus QB1 wasn’t without reason either. He threw for 7,442 yards, a completion rate of almost 70%, and 87 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions.
Tua is the quarterback who took over for Nick Saban’s team at halftime in the National Championship game and led a comeback win in OT to beat Georgia as a freshman. The hype around Tagovailoa was warranted.
After Tagovailoa suffered a near career ending-injury and LSU QB Joe Burrow broke NCAA records, most people began to fall in love with Burrow as their QB1. However, Tagovailoa was still QB1 for some people. For everyone else, he was QB2 at worst. No one had Justin Herbert higher than QB3.
Heading into the draft, it was clear the Cincinnati Bengals were going to select Joe Burrow with the first pick. It was very likely that Miami was going to select Tua Tagovailoa, which would have left the LA Chargers to “settle” for Justin Herbert.
With draft season many smokescreens are sent into the media. The Dolphins set smokescreens to cause chaos and uncertainty among other teams, many did not know if they wanted Herbert or Tagovailoa; however, some knew Tua would be the pick.
A recent article by DolphinsNation.Com stated that Brian Flores wanted to draft Justin Herbert.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this though. Over the last year, people in the National Media would speculate that there was discourse in the Dolphins Organization and not a unanimous decision on the right pick at QB.
Brian Flores has spoken in support of Tagovailoa numerous times and emphasized how he feels about Tua’s leadership and ability.
The right pick?
Hindsight is always 2020. If you told Chris Grier and Brian Flores that Justin Herbert would win OROY last year and be in MVP conversations after 5 weeks in his second season, I’m sure they’d have selected Herbert.
Unfortunately that’s not how it works. Really that’s not how anything in life works. Hindsight is always 2020, and you have to work with what you have.
Again, Justin Herbert is an amazing quarterback. He’s reached Star status after just 20 games and is being compared to Miami Dolphins Hall of Famer Dan Marino.
He’s doing it all well right now.
Is he Dan Marino level already? No. He looks like he could be though.
The point is, saying “Miami drafted the wrong QB” isn’t fair or true. At the time, most people would agree that Tagovailoa was the better prospect and a better pick at 5th overall than Herbert.
Herbert is going to be a great QB in the league for years to come. This does not mean that Tua can not be a good QB. Tagovailoa has 12 games to prove he’s the guy in Miami.
Let’s get one thing clear. It is by no means a safe assumption that Justin Herbert would have the same success in Miami.
The system in Miami is different, the offensive line is the worst in the league, and the offensive coaching staff is a mystery, and the WR corp has the highest drop percentage in the league since last year.
Through five games, Jacoby Brissett and Tua Tagovailoa have been sacked 16 times. That number would be a lot higher if Jacoby Brissett didn’t use his superhuman strength to avoid sacks. Justin Herbert has only been sacked 9 times. In week 4, the Dolphins allowed 2 sacks but a whopping 11 pressures.
That clip sums up the Dolphins OL performance through the first 5 weeks of the season.
This season, the Chargers of Los Angeles have a top-10 OL.
The offensive line’s performance has a huge impact on QB play, and there is a drastic difference between the Miami OL and the LAC OL.
Since Herbert and Tagovailoa arrived, they’ve had different paths to reach where they are today. After taking over for an injured Tyrod Taylor in week 2 last year, Herbert played well enough to earn the starting job. It was his team going forward and there was no doubt he was the starter.
In Miami, Tagovailoa took over after the Dolphins bye week with the team sitting at 3-3. Unfortunately, it’s been rumored that Chan Gailey did not agree with the decision. Downfield success was clearly an issue when Tagovailoa. Clearly the playbook was limited for Tagovailoa.
The Dolphins were also in playoff contention last year. In games where Tagovailoa was managing the game but not doing enough to win the game, Brian Flores pulled him in favor of veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick went 1-1 in his save attempts.
Having a veteran QB who was clearly unhappy with his benching looking over Tua’s shoulder probably was far from the best case scenario.
This year, the Dolphins have two offensive coordinators and a QB coach who all have a part in the play-calling. Similar to playing “telephone” in elementary school, it never ends how you want it to. Tagovailoa is already on his 2nd and 3rd offensive coordinators in just his second year.
Lastly, playmakers and supporting cast were a big issue for Tagovailoa and the Dolphins offense. In just week 17 alone, the Dolphins had 13 dropped passes. There were games in which Tagovailoa’s starting wide receivers were Antonio Callaway and Mack Hollins. Callaway isn’t with the team, and Hollins is primarily a special teams player.
Herbert on the other hand had Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry, Austin Ekeler for a little more than half the season.
These are by no means an excuse for the underwhelming start to Tagovailoa’s career. Last year, they were valid reasons. To say Herbert would be having the same start to his career in Miami as he is in Los Angeles is almost laughable.
Herbert is an excellent player and will be for years to come, but his supporting cast, coaching staff, and improved offensive line are all due credit.
It’s clear that Tagovailoa isn’t as physically gifted as Herbert. He’s smaller and doesn’t have as strong of an arm. That does not mean he can’t be a great quarterback in the NFL going forward.
Tagovailoa is in Miami and we can’t change that. He has shown flashes of potential. He will need to rely on his weapons to become the player we think he can be.
A wild and wacky Week 5 is done and dusted. What were the biggest topics on the tongues and minds of NFL folks league wide? Who were the heroes and villains of the fifth week? 14 of the hottest storylines dotting the NFL landscape. The Weekly NFL Power Rankings for week five are here and the question begs itself: who had the drive to thrive in week five?
1. Kyle Pitts FINALLY gets his first touchdown
– The rookie star tight end finally got his first touchdown against the Jets on the soil of America’s greatest ally. Topping off his greatest game as the focal point of the Falcons’ offense (which necessitated due to injuries to the emerging Calvin Ridley). Perhaps this game propels the precocious rookie forward into being the premier tight end league-wide as once was promised? Rookie tight ends are notorious for being fickle in their impact. Head coach Arthur Smith hasn’t been utilizing him as the promised future at the position until Sunday so there’s that factor as well. Maybe this is the game that changes that. Pitts’ fantasy owners will surely love it.
2. Burrow to Chase is the goods
– Quite a burgeoning friendship one would suspect if both stay healthy and fulfill their endless potential. Chase on target to, well, chase down the GOAT rookie receiver season of Randy Moss 1998. The ascendant star receiver added another 159 yards and a touchdown on just six receptions on Sunday against the Packers. Burrow put a mighty scare into the Bengals after getting hit hard on a scramble (he ultimately returned) and he was admitted to the hospital for a throat contusion. If both players can stay healthy, they can be one of the more lethal quarterback and receiver duos in this league.
3. 1 PM window finishes
– The early slate delivered some wild hijinks to close it out. Which made up for the relatively nonchalant finishes that the late afternoon games provided us. We all witnessed the crazy back and forth missed kick contest between the Packers and Bengals extend beyond the start of the late window. A game Houston squad made it tough for the Patriots and held the lead until the Pats came back late. Denver got past its offensive struggles and made it a contest deep into the 60th minute against the Steelers. Detroit actually held the lead in a dramatic affair with the injury-depleted Vikings before ultimately succumbing to yet another long-distance game-winning kick. It’s a fun league-wide trend that these games are so close this season. The fans are simultaneously reaching for the antiacids and their phones on an increasing basis this year. We’re all here for the drama.
4. Browns and Chargers stop playing defense
– The late slate did provide the viewers with some incredible offensive fireworks as both the Browns and Chargers decided to play a game of H-O-R-S-E in the fourth quarter. It was mind-boggling as each team traded long touchdowns like cryptocurrency. After a relatively quiet three quarters, the teams combined for whopping FORTY-ONE points in the final stanza. Both teams went over a combined 1,000 yards of total offense in this one. Justin Herbert continues to solidify his case as a top-five quarterback in this league with every bomb throw he makes and game-winning drives. Where else could you get an entire defense actively trying to drag a runner into the end zone?
5. The Jameis Winston Experience
– We got the full ride on Sunday on that roller coaster. He threw a ghastly interception then follows it up with this beauty of a deep shot to Deonte Harris. Overall, Mr. Winston has had a great season controlling his inner turnover demons thus far. He’s played well in Sean Payton’s system and with Taysom Hill’s unfortunate injury, looks to be the only passer touching the ball for a bit. Comeback Player of the Year contender?
6. The 2021 MVP race crystalizes
– The race for the 2021 MVP award is likely down to three contenders as we move deeper into October and beyond. The three lucky contestants: Kyler Murray, Josh Allen, and Justin Herbert. There could be a dark horse that looms on the horizon like grizzled graybeards Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and the like but it’s these three young guns battling it out. All three are off to fast starts and leading their teams as division contenders if not outright favorites. You can’t go wrong with any of them winning the award at the end. Allen is proving that he’s here to stay after a remarkable 2020. Murray is leading the league’s top offense. The Los Angeles Charger signal-caller has come on like gangbusters during his sophomore season after a remarkable rookie year. Allen likely wins it after establishing his bonafides last year.
7. The 2019 MVP Stakes His Claim to the Crown
– Lamar Jackson had a performance for the ages on Monday Night Football, leading the Ravens to a stirring comeback victory over the Colts. He’s well on his way to making the MVP race a four-way contest with the aforementioned three young guns above. It will be a thrilling race to the very end and Jackson has the precedence as a prior winner to know what it takes to win it. He has progressed every season as a passer under Greg Roman’s watch. Can he win the award for a second time?
1. Special Teams coaches’ heart rates – The specialists in Week 5 were on one this week. A whopping 12 missed extra points plagued the league’s foot meeting with leather people, including THREE in the Texans-Patriots (in a dome, no less). The aforementioned Cincinnati-Packers featured both kickers missing game-winning kicks on repeat, including Mason Crosby missing THREE BY HIMSELF in about 15 minutes of game time. Of course, we can’t leave out the punters as a 0-yard punt AND a double punt happened! There’s nothing that epitomizes the weekend more than Evan McPherson pulling a Nick Young and celebrating a bit too early.
– Another brutal week of injuries took a toll around the league as multiple stars are looking at long term issues. None more so than the Giants as Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, and Kenny Golladay were all knocked out of the game. The Browns didn’t escape as Jack Conklin, Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams, and JOK suffered game-ending injuries as well. Pittsburgh receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster injured his shoulder and is out for the season. The offensive linemen suffered heavily as Joe Thuney (broken hand), Oday Aboushi (ACL), Germain Ifedi (knee), Laremy Tunsil (hand), Sam Cosmi (ankle), Rodger Saffold (shoulder) were all declared OUT. At what point do the owners realize that the 17th game isn’t worth it? Do teams begin to schedule loss games like the San Antonio Spurs infamously made legendary?
3. Business is not booming for Miami
– There’s no shame in losing to the GOAT quarterback. However, there is shame in how they lost. The Dolphins’ defense was dismantled in a devastating fashion as all three units were to blame. The secondary was lit on fire as Antonio Brown got loose on a pair of touchdowns. How dominant was the Bucs offensive line? Well, let’s say a picture is worth a thousand words. Not to mention that the Twitter account of Tua Tagovailoa’s gym went on a Brian Flores-related rant after the game. Things aren’t rosy for the denizens of Hard Rock Stadium right now.
4. Coaches wearing the scandalous scarlet letters
– I won’t get into the Urban Meyer stuff this week as it’s been harangued into oblivion. It’s definitely not a great look for a coach with a questionable character already struggling to adapt to the pro game. The Jaguars looked relatively competitive on Sunday despite the week filled with questions about Meyer’s antics. However, on the west coast, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden is in a lot of hot water regarding racist emails about NFLPA director DeMaurice Smith. Then the New York Times broke the news that the Gruden emails got horrifically worse, way worse. Gruden has elected to resign, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
5. Denver’s offense is who we thought that they were
– Try as they might, the Broncos’ offense just couldn’t get it going until it was desperation time against the Steelers. Teddy Bridgewater, while a capable quarterback, isn’t the most physically gifted passer. Throw in an offense that is recovering a key asset or two like Courtland Sutton, it’s going to take a minute to gel together. Next week might be a get-right game against the tumultuous scandal-ridden Raiders in the Mile High City.
6. Seattle without Chef Unlimited
– We will get a few weeks’ glimpses into the possibly not too distant Wilson-less future with Russell Wilson out due to injury. Geno Smith takes over as the starter. The schedule is demanding to say the least with a road trip to Pittsburgh, home against the Saints, away at Green Bay, and home to Arizona dotting the next four out of five games. Can the Seahawks keep their heads above water in the Division of Death with Mr. Unlimited?
7. The Chiefs defense is bad
– Yeah, nothing new here but it’s dire for the men under the watch of Steve Spagnuolo. The numbers are disastrous and I’m not sure Spags’ pedigree can save them this time. Missing their best defensive lineman Chris Jones isn’t helping much, either. It’s a long season yet the defensive statistics reflect a team with a much lesser talent profile. Wherever the season ends up for the Chiefs to be seen, it is ominous. Patrick Mahomes can’t keep on rescuing the defense when he’s battling some issues himself.
Week 3 of the NFL season has been done and dusted. Who stood out in a positive manner? Who has some work to do as we move forward to Week 4? How will week three be perceived in the long run of the gauntlet? Will it be nice that everyone will look at it thrice?
In case you missed the previous weekly editions, they can be found below
– The precocious young gun from Oregon went into rowdy Arrowhead Stadium and outdueled the superstar Patrick Mahomes. Which is to put him in rarified air as few signal callers can claim legitimate victories over the league’s most electrifying passer. Herbert can make every improbable throw look perfectly natural as a simple pitch and catch. He has been blessed with physical gifts that few quarterbacks in history have possessed. Much will be anticipated when these two quarterbacks meet up and with good reason. Herbert has a bright future in this league.
2. Special Teams are FUNdamental
– What a fun week for special teams histrionics. The most overlooked phase of the game got its time in the sun on Sunday with several epic standout plays as seen below.
First up, Dustin Hopkins kicks a deep shot and then recovers his OWN kick. How?
Not to be outdone, Younghoe Koo led off the walk-off kick bonanza with a 40 yard bomb for the Falcons
Mason Crosby called Koo’s kick and raised it with his own bomb
Not to be outdone, the evergreen Justin Tucker called Crosby’s shot, re-raised with a record-breaking Giancarlo Stanton level nuclear strike
Earlier in the day, the previous record-holder Matt Prater had an insane 68 yard try returned for a KICK SIX remix
3. All the King’s…posters?
– Derrick Henry paced the Titans offense once again with several impact runs including another posterization of a poor, hapless defender who accepted the challenge. The latest victim: star linebacker Darius Leonard. The King also low key destroyed Julian Blackmon who thought himself worthy of taking him on. At this point, the pantheon of defenders who bravely went at the king is too numerous to count. He’s just built differently than any other running back in the league today. How many times does it need to happen before defenders realize that challenging Henry in one on one situations is just foolhardy? Quandre Diggs (censored) around and found out last week as well.
4. Josh Allen is pretty, pretty good
– Allen had yet another standout performance on Sunday against a really good Washington front who never really got in his face. The fourth-year pro is looking very well primed for another MVP run with five total touchdowns this past weekend. OC Brian Daboll has definitely unlocked the star potential from the young man. With Allen at the helm, the Bills can legitimately go blow for blow with the suddenly vulnerable Chiefs now. The league is in good hands with the young guns as more and more old star passers age out. Allen might be tops among them pretty soon if he keeps this up.
5. Ja’Marr Chase might be good after all
– Chase’s young career is off to a similar start to his speed. Flying. He had a breakout performance on Sunday against the hated Steelers, scoring on multiple big plays. The mysterious vanishing act during the preseason is a thing of the past as he’s proven to be an astute pick as long the Bengals’ offensive line can hold up. The Burrow to Chase connection is off and running again, much to the chagrin of everyone on the Bengals’ schedule. He has a pretty good case for offensive rookie of the year thus far into the season.
6. Gus Johnson in the NFL
– Two weeks, two instantly iconoclast Gus Johnson calls. Need I say more? Like many football fans, I’m glad he’s returned to announcing NFL duties after spending time exclusively in the hinterlands of amazing college football broadcasts. He simply belongs at the pro level, expressing his high-intensity emotive moods in an NFL broadcasting world often devoid of such brilliant missives, much like Marv Albert did for the NBA.
7. R-E-L-A-X and enjoy “The Last Dance”
– We don’t know how the story of the 2021 Green Bay Packers will end but Aaron Rodgers might have a few self-authored chapters to write just yet. Speaking of stories, Kyle Shanahan and late-game mismanagement are one as old as time immemorial. Turns out even 37 seconds is too much time left for the future Jeopardy host to launch remarkable comebacks. If it is indeed the last hoorah for Rodgers in a Packers uniform, I hope for Jordan Love’s sake that he soaks up a lot of institutional knowledge learning at the feet of AR. GM Brian Gutenkunst must be feeling some type of way though. His offseason was a story unto itself. A story of what not to do in terms of managing a relationship with your ultra superstar quarterback.
– The 2021 season is turning out to be quite Darwinian as the litany of injuries continues to pile up across the league to key players. Week 3 saw the likes of Quenton Nelson, AJ Brown, Josh Norman, K.J. Hamler, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Terron Armstead, James White, and Dalton Risner leave and do not return. Khalil Mack and Rob Gronkowski were injured but returned, fortunately. The Colts (Kwity Paye and Rock Ya-Sin) and Giants (Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton) were particularly hard hit with two key guys each ruled out. May the injured return to full health as quickly as possible.
2. Hollywood turning into Marquise
– Lost in all the hoopla of Justin Tucker’s utter destruction of the longest field goal record is Marquise Brown. He dropped three critical passes including an easy touchdown that would’ve likely rendered the field goal attempt moot in the first place. Maybe it was just a bad game as he was on fire the week prior against the Chiefs. Still, the potential game-breaking option is there. Next up for Brown and the Ravens: The Broncos tough secondary. We will see if this is a worrying trend or just a blip on the radar.
3. Seattle’s defense in a tailspin
– The Vikings just ran roughshod all over the struggling Seahawks’ defense with a backup running back, no less. Letting Derrick Henry run wild is one thing, letting Alexander Mattison do it is entirely another. Kirk Cousins went off on Sunday as well. The secondary has been torched repeatedly with horrifically substandard play. The next two weeks are likely not going to help either with the high-powered 49ers and Rams on the docket. They can’t keep on relying on Russ cooking to save the defense over and over, right? Pete Carroll needs to try everything possible underneath the sun to try to fix the hemorrhaging defense, otherwise, they will be also-rans in the wild and wacky NFC West.
4. The end has emphatically arrived for Big Ben
– As remarkable as Ben Roethlisberger’s return to play after a devastating elbow injury was, the fall has been just as stunning. The Steelers’ offensive line was expected to be below average entering the season and it has been, save for flashes of improvement. Roethlisberger is notorious for stringing out the play but his body isn’t responding as it once did. The receivers in the game against Cincy last week did not help by getting hurt but he should’ve been better. It’s time for the Steelers to see what they have in backup Dwayne Haskins. The end for the future Hall of Fame quarterback was none more glaring than checking down to the back in a must-have, do-or-die play.
5. Jonnu Smith’s nightmare fuel game
– The $50 million tight end has had a rough start to his career in Foxboro, no play is more evidence of his struggles than a tip drill pick-six that Malcolm Jenkins snagged. He’s had multiple drops and has failed to make the expected impact for the Patriots offense led by rookie quarterback Mac Jones. To be fair to Smith, his start in Tennessee wasn’t the most illustrious either. Fellow big money tight end signing Hunter Henry has also failed to live up to his high-priced contract so Smith isn’t alone. It’s going to be a long year for Jones if his two tight ends can’t get it going. Let’s hope that they do.
6. Justin Fields’ mental and physical health
– Well, that was a demolition job by the Browns on poor Justin Fields making his first start in lieu of Andy Dalton’s injury. The young passer had zero chance from the minute he was announced as the starter and subsequently was sacked NINE times by Cleveland. If you’ve ever seen a blatantly egregious example of horrendously illogical cancerous coaching malpractice, that was it. Coach Matt Nagy refused to adjust his gameplan to account for his franchise passer getting destroyed in the pocket. Then he had the utterly dumbfounding unrepentant arrogant malevolence to say what he said after the festivities. The arrogance of this man is limitless. If Justin Fields were to succeed, he needs to get Windy City Adam Gase terminated with immediate effect for at least his mental health. GM Ryan Pace does not escape scrutiny either as he built the floundering offensive line. Asking a washed-up almost 40 years old Jason Peters to protect Fields is tantamount to a hostile work environment. Drafting a giant medical risk in Teven Jenkins who, to no one’s surprise, got injured is another. Matt Nagy is done in Chicago, there’s no going back.
7. LeBron’s High School Quarterback
– On more of a funny note, LeBron was a guest on the ManningCast on MNF and the legendary hoops superstar delivered a gem. He also noted that both the Seahawks and Cowboys offered him a roster spot during the 2011 NBA lockout. The current Laker star joked that if he had a better QB in high school, he’d have a pro football career. Imagine being some random dude in Ohio sitting down with his family watching Monday Night Football and catching a stray from the top rope from one of the best basketball players of all time. Poor guy. He most likely has been roasted by EVERYONE in his circle, not to mention social media.
Despite what should be regarded as a successful 2020 campaign, this offseason has been full of question marks surrounding the future of starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Following on from endless criticism from the likes of Colin Cowherd, Chris Simms and Skip Bayless amongst others, Tua finally broke his silence on his rookie season at the start of OTAs this past week. In what can only be described as an incredibly honest and self critical interview, much of what he said leads to the question, were the Dolphins right to play Tua in 2020?
Looking back, it is very easy to see the argument in favor of red shirting Tua. After all, the same approach was taken by the Kansas City Chiefs when they elected to roll with veteran QB Alex Smith and to sit the future MVP and Super Bowl winner Patrick Mahomes in his first season. Tua is not Mahomes. In fact Tua has endured a much more challenging ordeal.
A rookie QB coming off a potentially career ending injury, with rehabilitation and a global pandemic hampering any chance of a productive offseason, to enable him to hit the ground running in his first season in the NFL. It is now clear that despite what fans were told about Tua’s hip being ready to play in the NFL, it was not ready for him to be Tua, the most efficient and accurate passer in college history; the Tua that Dolphins fans thought they were getting with the 5th overall pick.
Tua himself admitted to not having the confidence in his first year to make the appropriate alerts and checks, caused by his own failure of not knowing a playbook designed for Fitzpatrick well enough. It is therefore very easy to come to the conclusion that knowing this, the Dolphins should have elected to redshirt Tua, not risking the season or the health of an unprepared QB. So why did the Dolphins take that risk and did it pay off?
Following on from the 2019 season, nobody seriously expected the Dolphins to progress in their rebuild as far as they did. From improving from 5-11 to 10-6 in one season, highlights the direction of the team moving forward as a legitimate AFC contender. Whilst some questions may continue to linger throughout the media and on Twitter, had Tua not seen the field at all last season, even more questions would have arisen, following successful rookie campaigns of both Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert.
After being selected 5th overall and to not see the field over the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen, comparisons will have inevitably been made with Jordan Love in not being NFL ready. By allowing Tua the opportunity to make his mistakes in a weakened AFC East, with both the Jets and Patriots very much below par, meant that any rookie mistakes that were made did not come at the expense of winning in the moment.
Therefore, whilst it may be seen that electing to play Tua was setting him up for failure in 2020, it has subsequently created a platform for him to succeed in 2021 and beyond.