The thought racing through everybody’s minds when Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick tossed his third interception of the game to J.C. Jackson in the back of the endzone in Foxboro last Sunday, was when head coach Brian Flores would break the seal on rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Nowadays, there is no such thing as drafting a quarterback in the top five of the NFL Draft and having him sit. The Arizona Cardinals didn’t do that with Kyler Murray last season, the Philadelphia Eagles rolled with Carson Wentz right off the bat and the Cincinnati Bengals started former LSU and Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow on Sunday as well.
So why not take the chance on Tagovailoa?
Flores even alluded that the southpaw would need to be ready to play from week to week as the team begins preparations for the Buffalo Bills.
“The entire team of the guys who are on the active roster have to be ready to go and Tua is a part of that,” said Flores during his postgame press conference. “There’s no specific to pulling someone. It’s no different than if a guy goes down. The next guy’s got to be ready. I think it’s — I understand the question to a degree, but I want everybody on our team ready to go.”
Well, even though the rest of the league is throwing out their young quarterbacks to carry their franchises forward there is still something to say for letting a rookie grow into the position.
Right now the Dolphins are nowhere close to calling themselves competitors in the AFC East let alone the entire conference. The roster still has numerous moving parts and holes to fill before they see themselves playing in January.
One of Miami’s areas of improvement is along the offensive line. Although it didn’t play terribly against the New England Patriots, Fitzpatrick still took a few tough shots in the pocket and with the injury concerns of Tagovailoa you don’t want to make that a regular occurrence.
It should also be noted that New England’s pass rush isn’t valued as one of the best in the league, and with teams like the Buffalo Bills, San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers coming up who boast some of the most aggressive rushers in the league.
Tagovailoa will eventually need to step in and be able to absorb some blows, but when you have a chance to let the offensive line gel and strategically hold off on playing the former Alabama great it could end up helping his confidence later on.
The back half of Miami’s schedule is far weaker than the front so fans may likely see Tagovailoa around the midway point of the season if the coaching staff and front office are willing to be patient.
Extra practice time will also benefit Tagovailoa greatly, as the COVID-19 pandemic made for a hectic offseason in terms of mandatory team activities and eliminated all preseason games leading up to the regular season.
As the season progresses and the team gets into the swing of things and Tagovailoa seems to be comfortable with the NFL speed and playbook, that’s when fans will be able to see number one break the huddle.
*Get the BEST Alabama football insider information, message board access, and recruiting coverage today! SIGN UP HERE to unlock our subscriber only content!*
Patrick Dowd is a Reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter, via Pat_Dowd77