Miami had NFL lovers waiting for something to happen… until it did.
A(n) (early) decision to make:
On Sunday November 1, rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa started for the first time, following his debut against Jets in Week 6.
The transition wasn’t exactly ortodox, as the team found out about the early decision after the info leaked via we-don’t-know-who. Everybody was shocked (I must say, I was and I still am). Ryan Fitzpatrick was heartbroken (as he stated during daily press conference), Tua was excited of course and Coach Flo was, well, pretty upset and he couldn’t hide it.
On October 21, we saw a heartbroken Fitzpatrick, opening his heart up, yet saying he’d do whatever he could to support Tua, who later said Fitz was just like a father to him.
The whole decision seemed rushed, for just two weeks earlier, Flores stated very firmly he wouldn’t start Tua, concerned about his well-being and how well things were at the time. After that, in Week 6, Tagovailoa had a few snaps against the Jets, nothing big, a couple of good passes and a great image of him midfield absorbing his first time playing since his hip injury in 2019.
Is it ‘Tua Time’ yet?
Fast forward October 21, the announcement is made and there’s no going back; many said is was the correct timing, others said the opposite (me, for instance). The truth is there are many factors to consider:
-Most successful rookie QB to play four years in college (e.g. Dan Marino, Russell Wilson).
-Those who didn’t, get to spend a whole year (or more) benched, waiting and learning (e.g. Aaron Rodgers).
-Rookie QB’s who are rushed to play, go to a team with no better starter and/or under reconstruction (Burrow and Herbert, who played 4 years in college by the way).
None of the above is now Tua’s case; can it be an exception? Perhaps.
Could Miami have waited more? Of course. Did the team need him desperately to play because of Fitz’s poor performance? Definitely not.
Let’s not ignore that the need for starting Tua now might be result of 2021 draft picks, according to Adam Schefter. This might explain Flores’ reluctance to elaborate on this big time decision at this stage.
We know that Fitzpatrick brought lots of tangibles and intangibles to the team (see my previous article and stats to make sure I’m not lying):
-Against the Jaguars, he became the only player, along with Walter Payton, to have scored two passing TD, one rushing TD, 20 rushing yards and a reception (from himself FYI) in a single game, since 1948.
-He reached a 90% pass completion and a 133.3 rating, and completed his 12 first passes in 141 starts within 16 seasons (most for a QB career).
-He’s the first player in 70 years with at least one win against a single opponent in six different franchises.
I think this is a lot for an “under-qualified, old, inconsistent, not that intelligent QB, who has done nothing big for the team” (yes, I’ve read and heard it many times, and I’m sick of it).
A non-existent conflict of interests:
These days (specifically since October 21st), every time I say Fitz was doing a great job and was an important part of where the team is now, people get up of their whatever-they’re-sitting and jump on me claiming I’m a ‘Tua hater’ and a ‘Fitz lover’. Well, I’m not the first, but certainly, I’m the second.
The thing is, recognizing that Fitz was, and still is, a role model for his teammates, a positive influence, a hardworking athlete, an intelligent QB and a true leader on and off the field, has nothing on being happy, exciting and expectant for what Tua can and will accomplish. As a Dolphins lover, I want to see my team win… that’s it. And if the guys can see and say what Fitz means for them, why can’t we?
So I guess after all, it’s Tua Time now.