Tua Tagovailoa doesn’t have to start for the Dolphins when the regular season kicks off, but he should see meaningful snaps starting on Week 1.
Nothing should be more important to the Dolphins than developing Tua Tagovailoa this season. That’s why it’s imperative for Miami that their rookie quarterback gets regular playing time in every game.
The Dolphins insist that Tagovailoa is fully recovered from the ugly hip injury that ended his collegiate career, but head coach Brian Flores insists that his injury is “part of the conversation” when it comes to playing Tagovailoa Week 1. That type of rhetoric drops a strong hint that Ryan Fitzpatrick will actually be the team’s starting quarterback when the regular season begins.
That’s a reasonable strategy for Miami to take. Fitzpatrick isn’t going to play like an All-Pro, but he’s a perfectly adequate starter for a team that doesn’t have realistic Super Bowl aspirations. Allowing him to start the year as the team’s starter to take pressure off Tagovailoa makes a lot of sense.
The right course of action for Flores and his offensive staff is to build specific packages designed to accentuate Tagovailoa’s strengths to get him on the field immediately. If the franchise is truly concerned about his mobility then they can make sure those packages feature short passes that allow him to get rid of the ball quickly. Protecting him over the course of a full game would be difficult under those circumstances. Giving him a series or two with those limitations is easy to manage.
The Dolphins cannot afford to get through 2020 without a clear understanding of where Tagovailoa is as a quarterback. They can’t get a solid evaluation of his abilities unless they give him significant playing time during the regular season. He should take over the starting duties relatively early in the campaign. There’s no reason he shouldn’t soak up some significant snaps even before that inevitable transition takes place.
Unfortunately, nothing about Flores’s tenure in charge of the team indicates that he’ll be willing to take such a progressive stance at the game’s most important position. Instead, Miami fans can expect the team to trot Fitzpatrick out as their starter until the team is firmly out of playoff contention.
Only then will they get their glimpse into the franchise’s future. The sooner Tagovailoa gets on the field the better the franchise’s future outcome will be.