The Miami Dolphins are 1-0 with Tua Tagovailoa as their starting quarterback, even if their 28-17 win over the Los Angeles Rams wasn’t necessarily a result of top-tier play from the fifth-overall pick of the 2020 NFL draft.
Tagovailoa completed 12-of-22 passes for just 93 yards and one touchdown. He added seven yards rushing.
There was nothing special about Tagovailoa’s performance. The Dolphins victory was in large part due to defensive and special teams scores, and while Tua didn’t make any critical mistakes in Miami’s victory, he didn’t have any wow moments like we’ve seen from fellow first-round rookie quarterbacks, Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert.
It’s important that the Dolphins get an extended look at Tagovailoa this season. Miami is armed with the Houston Texans’ 2021 first-round pick, which as of now is slated to be in the top-five selections. It’s a pick that could put the Dolphins back in the mix to land a franchise-caliber quarterback, like Ohio State’s Justin Fields, and in order to make a decision that’s in the best interest of the franchise’s long-term success, coach Brian Flores has to first know whether he already has his cornerstone player under center.
ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter reported over the weekend that Miami’s decision to insert Tagovailoa into the starting lineup despite veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick playing winning football was, indeed, more about evaluating Tua than it was about benching Fitzpatrick.
Tagovailoa was one of the highest-rated players in the 2020 draft and began the 2019 college football season as the presumed top overall pick. His hip injury, combined with Burrow’s remarkable year, pushed him down to the fifth pick but didn’t change his career projection: he’s a franchise quarterback prospect.
It’ll take more than one game, if not more than a half-season, to know exactly what kind of quarterback Tagovailoa will settle in as. Hopefully, he’ll give Miami enough highlight moments for the Dolphins to feel comfortable building around him in 2021 and beyond.