The Miami Dolphins’ head coach, Brian Flores, and offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey, as well as other key decision makers for the Miami Dolphins have opted to bench their veteran quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, in order to start their rookie QB in Tua Tagovailoa moving forward. The Miami Dolphins have a bye week for this upcoming week 7 of their 2020 – 2021 NFL schedule, so Tagovailoa will have two weeks to prepare as the starting quarterback for his first ever NFL start against the Los Angeles Rams at home on Sunday, November 1st, 2020.
Tua Tagovailoa’s First NFL Experience
Tua got a taste of his first ever NFL action last Sunday, October 18th, 2020 when the Miami Dolphins were blowing out the New York Jets late in the game. During his short first appearance in the National Football League he went 2 for 2 for 9 passing yards in his 5 total snaps played.
Timing of the Quarterback Change
The timing of the Miami Dolphins’ quarterback change is quite questionable as well as controversial. Their previous starting quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick has led the Miami Dolphins to an overall record of 3 and 3 so far, and he was playing exceptionally well.
In fact, the last two games the Miami Dolphins have played were wins in which they outscored their opponents with a combined score of 67 – 17. Currently Fitzpatrick has a quarterback rating of 79.6 which just so happens to be good enough for the seventh best in the National Football League after week 6.
Fitzpatrick has publicly voiced his opinion about the quarterback switch to the sports media world, and he is extremely “heartbroken” about the change. Although he knew that Tagovailoa was the future starting quarterback of the Miami Dolphins, he was under the impression that the move would be made either next season or after the Miami Dolphins were struggling to win games.
Fitzpatrick felt like he was having great success with this young football team, and that he was the clear leader contributing to the Dolphins’ recent winning ways. Even though Ryan is not happy with the organization’s decision he is a true professional, and he will need to put his feelings aside and help Tagovailoa try to win football games this season.
Tua Tagovailoa’s Early Football Background
The youthful Samoan superstar quarterback was born in Ewa Beach, Hawaii. He played his high school football at Saint Louis School in Honolulu, Hawaii. As a standout play maker on the islands of Hawaii, Tagovailoa, chose to attend the University of Alabama under the tutelage of the famous and highly successful Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban.
Tua’s College Freshman Year
When healthy at Alabama Tua absolutely demonstrated incredible skill and leadership at the quarterback position. In 2017 as a true freshman he backed up the starting quarterback for the Crimson Tide, Jalen Hurts. He got to see the field often during blowouts, and he did not disappoint when he was on the field.
Early on in the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship game against the Georgia Bulldogs Jalen Hurts was proving to be quite ineffective and playing poorly at the quarterback position. Coach Saban decided to plug Tagovailoa in for the second half of the championship game, and this was a very wise decision.
Tua led Alabama to an explosive as well as extremely impressive second half offensively. He ended up throwing the game winning 41 yard touchdown pass, and won the offensive MVP of the contest. In that title match up Tagovailoa went 14 of 24 for 166 passing yards, 3 touchdown passes, 1 interception, and 27 rushing yards on his 12 run attempts.
Tagovailoa’s Sophomore Year at Alabama
In 2018 Tua earned the starting quarterback job at Alabama over Hurts which effectively caused Jalen to transfer to the University of Oklahoma prior to the 2019 college football season. Tagovailoa had an absolutely unbelievable year with the Crimson Tide in 2018 although they lost the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship game to the Clemson Tigers.
He was the second place finisher in the Heisman Trophy race behind Kyler Murray, but he won the Walter Camp Award as well as the Maxwell Award. Tua was selected as the SEC Offensive Player of the Year, First Team All SEC, Sporting News College Football Player of the Year, and he earned All American honors in 2018.
Tua’s Junior Year with the Crimson Tide
In 2019 Tua showed his true character and ability to lead Alabama even through a whole lot of adversity. While healthy he was spectacular early on this season as the Tide rolled through their competition with Tua at the helm. Then he suffered a high ankle sprain in the sixth game against the Tennessee Volunteers which resulted in surgery, but he only missed one game due to this injury.
In his first game back from the ankle surgery he had to face LSU and one of the best college football quarterbacks of all time in Joe Burrow. This was an unbelievable offensive showdown between the two gunslingers. Despite a poor first half of this game Tagovailoa bounced back extremely hard in the second half even while hobbling on his sore ankle. He went 21 of 40 for 413 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception in Alabama’s heart breaking 46 to 41 loss to the LSU Tigers.
Then in a game against Mississippi State Tua took a season ending sack in which he dislocated his hip fracturing the posterior wall as well as breaking his nose and suffering a concussion. This was the last snap of his college football career. He underwent surgery to repair his hip, and he has now been cleared by doctors for full football action since with the Miami Dolphins.
Tagovailoa is now ready to show the world that he can compete against the highest competition in the National Football League. Only time will tell if it was too early to insert him into the Miami Dolphins’ offense as their starting quarterback.
“Oh gosh, yes, you go out there and you look at it — he got under duress and made an accurate throw. He sat in the pocket on third down and made a throw for a first down,” the Miami Dolphins’ offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey, explained. “Those are positives. Those are real positives. For a guy that hasn’t played a snap, those are real positives.”
“I definitely could hear it. There’s nothing else playing in the stadium, so I could hear that,” Tua Tagovailoa recalls. “And that was awesome. But to just be out there with my teammates, being my first time, and getting the support and love from them, I think that was super awesome.
“And then you have a 16-year vet like Fitz, who has no animosity toward it as well, who’s just been supportive that entire time. Good drive, bad drive, he comes to the sideline and just talks through his process with why he did some things. I’m very fortunate to have a mentor like him who is just very encouraging on the field and then this guy is, like, he’s just very personable off the field as well.”
“From a rehab standpoint, or just from a strength training standpoint, he’s doing what everyone else is doing,” says the Miami Dolphins’ head coach, Brian Flores. “He’s doing well physically and mentally. From a health standpoint, it was obviously a serious injury, and he’s done a great job as far as getting himself back healthy and getting himself to a point where he can practice and take a lot of reps. He’s trending in the right direction from a health standpoint.”
“He’s a hell of a player. Miami, especially at the QB position, really needs that. They need a leader. They need a player,” the former Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade said. “To come in as a young player and win a game in the second half of a national championship game — that shows some grit, that shows some balls. People have to really believe in you. Miami needs that. The Dolphins need that. Even though I’m a [Chicago] Bears fan, I was rooting for them to get him because Miami needs to get back to where the basketball program is.”
“We feel like through practice meetings and walk-throughs that he’s ready, and that’s how we’re going moving forward,” Flores expressed. “[Ryan Fitzpatrick] has done a great job. He’s been productive. His leadership has been great. It’s not an easy decision for me or us as an organization, but we felt like for the team now and moving forward, this is the move we needed to make.”
“We’ve seen a lot of improvement from Tua,” Flores goes on to say. “He’s gotten more comfortable — accuracy, decision-making have been good in practice. But again, practice is very different than games. We’re going to do everything we can from a meeting, walk-through, practice standpoint to get him ready to play in a game. Obviously we’re comfortable and confident that he’ll be able to be competitive in those games when that time comes. There’s a lot that leads into that.”
“He’s practiced well,” Flores stated. “He works hard in meetings and walk-throughs. He’s got a good rapport with his teammates. Every week we’re going out to win, so, yeah, I’m confident that if we prepare the way he’s been preparing, then I’m confident that we’ll go out there and have good results. But it’s not a one-man game.”
“One thing on this situation that’s unfortunate is that I didn’t get a chance to address the team before this was out in the media. That’s not the way I or we want to do business,” Flores explained. “That’s unfortunate. I’m not happy about that at all. So I’ll address that to the team and apologize that they had to find out on social media because I don’t think that’s fair to him.”
“Fitz has been great. He’s been great really for the last year and a half,” Flores remembered. “I don’t know if anyone has been more instrumental in trying to instill a culture and embody a lot of the things we’re looking for from a toughness, competitiveness, team-first [perspective]. He’s made an impact on Tua and a lot of other players on this team.
“I have great respect for him, and that made this decision very tough. At the end of the day, we felt like as a team that this was the best thing for the team now and moving forward to go with Tua. Fitz, the way he handles himself and his impact on the team, will still be there. He’s been a tremendous asset and leader on this team.”
“I was shocked by it. It definitely caught me off guard. It was a hard thing for me to hear yesterday, just kind of digesting the news. My heart just hurt all day. It was heartbreaking for me,” Fitzpatrick emotionally expressed. “Flo kind of said what he said and said what he said to you guys as well, and that’s the decision and the direction that the organization is going in.”
“Obviously we’ve talked in the past, me and you guys, about how I’m the placeholder and this eventually was going to happen,” Fitzpatrick stated. “It was just a matter of kind of when, not if. It still just … it broke my heart yesterday. It’s a tough thing for me to hear and to now have to deal with, but I’m going to do my best with it.”
“There was a lot of stuff going through my mind yesterday, just from a personal standpoint, not necessarily with the team,” Fitzpatrick goes on to say. “Is this it? Like, was that my last game as an NFL player in terms of being the starter and going out there and playing?
“I’ve been a starter, I’ve been benched all kinds of different ways, but this one just really more so than any of them … this organization and what we’ve been through the last year and a half, this was kind of the first place other than Buffalo where I just felt fully committed and invested and felt like it was my team. To have that, I think that’s a lot of the reason why I just … my heart was so heavy yesterday. But that’s the direction that the organization and I’ve just got to accept it.”
“Although it hurts me in a way to see Fitz hurt, I’m just very, very lucky to have someone like Fitz in my corner, regardless of the situation we’re in right now,” Tagovailoa explained. “I hate to say it like this, but it is like this: It’s like a father-and-son thing.”
“Well, it’s definitely been a journey,” Tagovailoa recalled. “I definitely think of that injury, when I got hurt. And then the process leading up to being able to walk, being able to do football drills, and being able to do things in general. I definitely do reflect on that process that I went through, and I’m definitely blessed to still be here playing the game I grew up dreaming of playing.”
“He’s a smart, collected young man. He’s very smart. He’s very calm. He’s definitely going to be a future great player in this league. We’re all excited. We all know what he can do,” says the Miami Dolphins’ linebacker Jerome Baker. “We’re ready to go. We believe in Tua. He definitely can get the job done.”
“This profession is interesting in that the guy that fired me — I basically got fired yesterday and then my day of work today consisted of me in Zoom meetings listening to the guy that fired me, and then [was] locked in a spaced-out room with my replacement for four hours today. So there aren’t a whole lot of jobs that are like that,” Fitzpatrick emphasized. “But I know how difficult it is to play the quarterback position, and I know that that room is so important to the guy that’s playing in terms of everybody having your back and pulling in the same direction.
“So today’s the day to digest a little bit, and we’ll get away for the bye a little bit. But, yeah, once this thing starts up again, I’ve got to do my best for Tua to help him out. Because there’s two separate situations here. One is with Tua — and I want him to do well and I think he’s a great kid and I think he has a really bright future. And the other one is my feelings and just kind of what I’m going through. And that has to be separate from when I walk into this building and help him out. I’ve got to separate those feelings from trying to be a professional and help him out as best I can.”
Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Career NFL Statistics
Rushing and Receiving
The Miami Dolphins’ Franchise History
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