To be fair, I’d like to make clear that I never wished for Tua Tagovailoa’s arrival; more on that later. However, as a team player, any present or future Miami Dolphins player has and will always have my full support and respect.
In early 2020 (oh, those happy pre-COVID19 times), analyses and projections were made by experts, scouting teams and by fans. It’s funny but a lot of fans think they know better than the general managers and head coaches. You know who you are!
An overwhelming amount of mock drafts predicted that the Dolphins would target “popular positions” such as running backs, wide receivers and tackles in the 2020 NFL Draft. All of the mock drafts came to the consensus that Miami would draft a quarterback. The Miami faithful viewed this as the opportunity to finally have someone under center that would save them from the unsustainable agony of watching every single game on the verge of a mental breakdown.
The 2019 season was played under the theme “Tank for Tua!” This hurt some Dolfans to their very core. Even if some didn’t want to admit it, everyone knew last season was not the Dolphins’ best moment. Whether it was Ryan Fitzpatrick or Josh Rosen leading the charge, the Dolphins were awfully close to the number one overall draft pick.
Nonetheless, all was not lost and there was hope in the form of new head coach Brian Flores. Affectionally known as Coach Flo, he represented a new era. This Honduran head coach, born and raised in Brooklyn and the son of immigrants, is relentless and disciplined. Flores joined the Dolphins after leaving their biggest rival for the last two decades (the ones who mustn’t be named), would turn the tables on Adam Gase‘s disaster (sorry, NOT sorry, Jets Fans).
From the season kick-off, Dolphins fans needed something to hold on to. This has become the norm in recent years. Dolfans have learned to become patient and envision victory, as improbable as it may seem a la ‘Mountaineer Shot‘. Or by the same token, suffering (literally) until the last second waiting on a miracle, a ‘Miami Miracle‘ perhaps!
For the Dolphins, 2019 represented change, uncertainty, and a brand new opportunity to show everybody what they were made of. And with the 2020 NFL Draft around the corner, speculations ran rampant.
Finally, the much anticipated Thursday, April 23rd date hit and all eyes were on the same thing. What were the Dolphins going to do with their No. 5 overall pick? What were they going to do with three first-round picks? And the name resonating in everybody’s minds was none other than Tua Tagovailoa.
Tua, the breathtaking Alabama Quarterback; considered “THE best,” the one who accomplished what only a few could in College Football. A resume that includes 3,966 passing yards, 43 touchdowns in a season (six in a single game), 81 career touchdowns and two 400+ yards games. What else could Miami fans ask for? Who wouldn’t want Tua to be the 5th first-round QB selected in Miami Dolphins history?
And so he was; the first left-handed quarterback in the league since Kellen Moore retired from Dallas in 2017. The ecstasy, the pounding hearts; social media became an absolutely frenzy following the announcement. Every teams’ fans, experts, quite frankly everybody was talking about Tua and how he was going to reverse the hot mess that Miami fans had grown accustomed to.
Tagovailoa has been donned the savior, but this needs to be said. Fitzpatrick gave the Dolphins his all every game last season. Notably finishing the season as the team’s rushing leader. That’s right, our quarterback, putting himself out there, even more than necessary in each play. His leadership inspired elevated performances from key players such as DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki and Isaiah Ford. So much so that Christian Wilkins, a defensive end, even lined up and scored a touchdown.
Even with all of this, Miami remained craving a fresh QB who was eager to learn from Fitz. A quarterback who represents a challenge and motivation for Rosen to improve. Most importantly someone who could actually fill Dan “The Man” Marino’s shoes, the last quarterback to lead the Dolphins.
It’s a fact Tua has the guts, the heart and most importantly, he loves being a Miami Dolphin. Tagovailoa isn’t just a great athlete, but he’s a better person. Even before officially signing his 4-year $30 million contract, he stated he would donate part of his rookie wage to establish a $300,000 scholarship endowment for four students at his alma mater Saint Louis High School in Honolulu. His vision is to provide more youngsters the opportunity to have same chances as him.
With (amazing) numbers, courage, and determination (traits that fit perfectly with Grier and Flores’ vision) already being addressed, what’s left to determine if Tua is the one? I hate to admit it, but someone has to: his injuries.
While he’s proved to be an unbelievable athlete and the best Alabama quarterback of all-time, his talent has been overshadowed by the many injuries suffered from October 2018 to November 2019 as a collegiate quarterback. A knee, left quad, ankle, broken finger and the most recent and significant one, his dislocated hip (and other fractures) which led to a major surgery causing him to miss the rest of the season for recovery.
Even when Miami therapist, Kevin Wilk, referred to Tua’s recovery as almost miraculous, Tagovailoa’s injury list is long and that reinjury is a matter of concern. Can and should the Dolphins franchise really trust this “miracle”? How long will it last? How will his performance be during the training camp? Will he be able to play this season?
These are just some of the many questions that come to mind when thinking about the starlet rookie. Keep in mind these questions are about a quarterback who without having thrown a single pass for the Miami Dolphins, is now the face of the franchise, the top jersey seller since the moment he got his number (outshining Brady) and a rookie who’s the face of multiple brands. All of this is based on promise and hope.
It all comes down to this; Tua has it all: talent, passion, vision, accuracy, awareness, speed, hunger for victory, and perseverance. He’s also dedicated to learning Miami’s system with humbleness to learn whatever from whomever, even it’s it a journeyman quarterback.
The only question left to ask is: will he be healthy to prove himself in the NFL? If Tua is, then it would be justifiable to say he’s the missing piece in the reconstruction puzzle, but then the next question would be when?