Tua Tagovailoa has been named the starting quarterback of the Miami Dolphins, and he’ll get his first NFL action against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 8 after their bye week. The timing may come as a shock, but Pro Football Network Insider Benjamin Allbright shed some light on the situation in the most recent edition of PFN Weekly.
Why are the Dolphins starting Tua Tagovailoa this early in the season?
On Tuesday’s edition of PFN Weekly, Allbright said that the Miami Dolphins are making this move, in part, because they need to see how Tua Tagovailoa does in live action. Why? They hold the Houston Texans’ 2021 first-round pick and need to know if they should be looking at quarterbacks in the offseason or if Tua is indeed their franchise quarterback.
PFN Weekly is embedded at the end of this article and Allbright talks about Tua and why the Dolphins named him the starter at the top of the show. Scroll down to view the segment, which begins around the 2:15 mark.
“The Dolphins understand that they’ve got the Houston Texans draft pick, and that draft pick is going to be very high. They want to know if they need to be looking at quarterbacks with that draft pick, or if they’ve got their guy in Tua. So, they’re willing to roll the dice, even though they’ve been competitive, to see what he’s got this season. Is he the guy or are they going to have a Josh Rosen/Kyler Murray situation where they punt him and move on next season?”
Allbright also shed light on the fact that Tua was supposed to see action in the second half of the game against the Denver Broncos, which was originally scheduled in Week 6 before the schedule changes hit the NFL. That would have given the Dolphins coaching staff and front office the opportunity to evaluate Tua because their original bye was in Week 11.
Instead, Tua saw a series of live action in their blowout victory over the New York Jets in Week 6 and now with the schedule shift, the Dolphins will have at least ten games to evaluate Tua and to ensure that he is, in fact, their quarterback of the future.
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Looking back at Tua’s college years at Alabama
Tua was an elite prospect coming out of high school. He was the 32nd player in his class and the number one dual-threat quarterback. He had offers from 16 schools, 15 power five, and his hometown Hawaii University. In the end, Tagovailoa took his talents to Tuscaloosa to play for Alabama.
Coming in as a freshman, Tagovailoa was named Jalen Hurts’ backup, but that didn’t stop him from seeing significant playing time. Alabama was so dominant that they often had large enough leads, which allowed Tagovailoa to see the field for large stretches of the game with many of the backups.
But that was all a warm-up to the moment where the Crimson Tide needed him the most – the 2017-2018 National Championship game against Jake Fromm and the Georgia Bulldogs. Trailing 13-0, Tua took over for Hurts, who went three of eight for 21 yards in the first half.
Leading the team out of the tunnel in the second half, Tua responded by throwing for 166 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Crimson Tide to a 26-23 victory. He was named MVP of the national championship for his comeback performance.
And from that moment, he never relinquished the job. Tagovailoa made his first start to begin the 2018 season and dominated the college football landscape to the tune of 3,966 yards, 43 touchdowns, and just six interceptions. He entered the 2019 season as the near-unanimous top prospect for the 2020 NFL Draft.
NFL fanbases encouraged their teams to ‘Tank for Tua’
The phrase ‘Tank for Tua’ took off like a rocket during the 2019 NFL season amongst several fanbases, but none more than the Miami Dolphins, who were one of the worst teams in the NFL in the beginning stretch of the season.
The calls to tank only got stronger as Tua continued to show the world he was an elite prospect. In fact, the Dolphins fanbase – and several other fanbases – infamously argued amongst one another every Sunday about the balance between losing and building a culture of winning.
Meanwhile, on Saturdays, Tua was averaging 316 passing yards and four touchdowns per game. But unfortunately, injuries would get in the way of his dream of being the first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
A few weeks into the season, Tua suffered a high ankle sprain against Tennessee. The injury was severe enough that he needed to have surgery. However, he was able to return three weeks later, although that was short-lived. In just the second game after his return, Tagovailoa dislocated his hip, and immediately, questions began to swirl about his college football and NFL career.
Many would compare the injury to the one Bo Jackson suffered, which ultimately ended his career. But Tua set himself on a path to recovery and participated in a Pro Day that was put into action by those who were training him for the NFL Draft. And with many medical questions answered before the start of the Draft, Tua was once again a top prospect.
While he wasn’t the first quarterback selected – that honor went to Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals – he landed with the Dolphins, who had the fifth overall pick. And now, in the Dolphins’ seventh game of the season, Tua Tagovailoa will make his first NFL start against Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams.