Tua Tagovailoa’s availability for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots — and beyond — is in serious doubt after the Miami Dolphins quarterback was placed in concussion protocol for the second time in three months.
Tagovailoa injured his head during the Dolphins’ 26-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers, a game in which he threw three second-half interceptions.
Tua Tagovailoa Injury Update: What We Know
Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel told reporters Monday afternoon that he had been alerted to Tagovailoa’s health development earlier that day. Tagovailoa appeared in all 50 of the Dolphins’ offensive snaps on Sunday but then started displaying concussion symptoms on Monday.
McDaniel told reporters that it’s unclear when Tua got hurt, and it’s too soon to know whether Tagovailoa will clear concussion protocol ahead of Sunday’s crucial game against the Patriots. If Tua cannot start, Teddy Bridgewater presumably will.
The Dolphins lost all four December games in which they played and basically need to win out against the Patriots and Jets to make the playoffs. Failing to do so would constitute an epic collapse after starting the season 8-3.
Tagovailoa has been bad during this four-game losing streak, but his worst football of the year — and perhaps his career — came in the second half of Sunday’s game, which followed Tagovailoa slamming the back of his head against the ground.
It was a similar scenario to the one he endured against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4. The hit in Cincinnati resulted in a scary concussion that sent an immobilized Tagovailoa to the hospital.
That head injury came just four days after Tagovailoa showed gross motor instability following yet another head-ground impact. The Dolphins and Tagovailoa insist that first hit, which occurred in a September game against the Buffalo Bills, did not cause a concussion, although the team’s decision to return Tua to that game prompted the league and union to modify the return-to-play policy.
But now a second trip through the protocol raises questions about how responsible it would be for Tua to play at all the rest of the season.
Multiple head injuries in a short period of time significantly raise the risk of long-term damage. Tagovailoa’s long-term health should take priority over any team achievement.
Former Dolphins running back Troy Stadford gave voice to the thoughts of many Monday night when he implored the Dolphins to keep Tagovailoa sidelined for the remainder of the season.
“Tua!!! In concussion protocol once again?!?!?!” Stradford wrote. “You have to shut him down the rest of the season period!!! That’s my opinion!!! Protect him from him!!! @MiamiDolphins #Dolphin🐬”
Dr. Jessica Flynn, a sports medicine doctor, wrote the following on Twitter: “This is so heartbreaking given Tua’s history of brain injuries earlier this season.”
Added McDaniel: “I just want guys to really be done right by, by the information we have, the science, all the medical expertise that we rely on. I care very deeply about each and every player. I take that serious. I just want him to get healthy, have peace of mind in that regard.”