After the Miami Dolphins selected QB Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the attention immediately shifted to how he would fit into the team’s plans for the 2020 season. While there are still many questions regarding his health, and since the players have not been able to meet in the facilities with each other and the coaching staff, no one knows what to expect when Tagovailoa walks through the training facility doors in Davie.c
However, the virtual meetings the Dolphins have been holding the past several weeks have given hints as to what Tagovailoa may be able to bring both on and off the field. In a recent session with Dolphins media, several players – including Bobby McCain, Davon Godchaux, Mike Gesicki, and Ryan Fitzpatrick – spoke about Tagovailoa’s college career, his potential and athletic ability, how he was adjusting to the NFL, and the general impression they got of him.
Defensive Back Bobby McCain
Although on different sides of the ball, McCain and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick have a great relationship. So, it was understandable when he said a lot without saying too much when asked about Fitzpatrick, Tagovailoa, and the potential quarterback battle we’ll see when training camp opens in just over a month from now.
“I think obviously there’s a lot of talent in the entire quarterback room. I think that it’s going to be exciting for those guys to go out and compete and make each other better day in and day out. Honestly, there’s a couple guys in that room that – like I said, there’s a ton of talent in there – so I’m super excited about the future of that room and I’m excited go out there and work with everybody in that quarterback room and help those guys make some plays and just go out there and honestly just do my role and make the most of my opportunities.”
Defensive Lineman Davon Godchaux
Godchaux didn’t shy away from the obvious when he stated it was clear that everyone associated with the Dolphins wanted a quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft. He noted that even though he’s an LSU guy, he still had to tip his hat to Tua and the career he had at Alabama. However, he warned that head coach Brian Flores wasn’t going to give any handouts or keep the situation comfortable when it came time to compete for playing time.
‘Coach Flo’ is going to be consistent with who he is. He’s going to expect great things out of you. If you did something great last game, he’s going to expect the same out of you, so I think having that mindset as a head coach, I think that’ll kind of keep us on our toes. He’s always going to look to bring in competition, so I think a lot of people don’t get that aspect of ‘Coach Flo.’ He’s always going to try to create competition. Creating competition is what makes your team elevate to the next level, so I think by him doing things like that, I think the sky’s the limit for our team in the future – if we just keep day-by-day when we get ready to go out for training camp and just day-by-day just chopping wood. Just keep it one day at a time.”
Tight End Mike Gesicki
Although Gesicki has had a slower start to his career than most would have liked to see, he has shown flashes of development. While we don’t know who will be throwing him the ball come Week 1 of the 2020 season, we do know that the Dolphins coaching staff and front office envision Tua and Gesicki exposing defenses for years to come. For now, Gesicki is learning more about his future quarterback as best he can through the virtual meetings.
“Obviously once you get drafted, your phone starts blowing up and you’ve got everybody congratulating you, so I kind of let that cool down for a little bit and I was able to just kind of reach out and tell him that we’re excited to have him and obviously just talked to him real shortly. But I think that what you guys see from him – just kind of being super positive and a great kid and excited to be out there working – I think that’s kind of the same thing that I’m able to grasp from him as well.”
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick
And of course, the player on the Dolphins roster who will be tied at the hip with Tua will be Ryan Fitzpatrick. Expected to be the starting quarterback when the 2020 season, Fitzpatrick is in a unique situation. On one hand, he knows that his NFL career is coming to a close. On the other, he wants to compete and be the starting quarterback. So, how does he plan to balance these emotions?
“I’m as competitive as they come, so I want to go out there and start. I know there are a lot of forces that go into it from all kinds of different sides. Whether that happens or not, who knows. I know that in order for our team to be successful, whoever is playing from that quarterback room has to be successful. Whether that’s me out there, doing everything I can to put the team in position to win, or whether that’s somebody else – be it Tua that is out there doing it – I’m going to do the best I can to help him to make sure our position is doing the things that are going to make our team win. That’s my mentality, that’s how I think about it. You know me very well I think from last year, and you know I want to be out there competing on Sundays.”
When will Tua have the opportunity to showcase his talents on the field?
On last week’s NFL Draft Insiders Podcast, PFN Chief Draft Analyst and Insider Tony Pauline said that July 1 is the date to circle on the calendar, because that’s when he believes we will get further clarity on the opening of training camps and the start of the NFL season.
“What I was told by a couple of people is if the league announces on July 1st that camps will open on-time, that means they expect the season to open on-time with or without fans in the stadium,” he said. “If they do not make an announcement by July 1st, there is a good chance that the season could be delayed two or three weeks with the hopes that when the season opens, it’ll definitely be with fans in the stadium.”
Whether or not there will be a delay to the season remains to be seen, but it does look like football will be played in 2020. Now, it’s just a matter of when, not if, Tua will have the opportunity to meet his teammates in person, begin forming relationships, and start competing for the starting quarterback job.