At least one Dolphins player doesn’t think Tua Tagovailoa is the team’s long-term answer at quarterback.
An anonymous member of the Miami defense said Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel that Tagovailoa “can’t throw every shot” at the NFL level. According to the defender, that will make it very difficult for the Dolphins to be competitive in the AFC.
“It will only take us so far,” the player said. “I’m wasting my career here if that’s what we’re doing.”
Tagovailoa just finished his second year with the Dolphins. The No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft led the Dolphins to a 7-5 record in 12 starts and threw for 2,653 yards, 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his first full year as a starter.
The numbers don’t look too bad, but Tagovailoa had a few bumps in the road during the campaign. He dealt with injuries that limited him to just 12 starts and 13 appearances overall.
Tagovailoa also averaged just 6.5 passing yards per attempt, which ranked 23rd among 33 qualified quarterbacks in 2021, and he averaged the third fewest passing yards per game (204.1) among quarterbacks who made at least 10 openings. The only players worse than him in that regard were rookies Zach Wilson (179.5) and Justin Fields (155.8).
While Tagovailoa has a career record of 13-8 as a starter, some of the Dolphins evidently don’t think that will last. In fact, one player expressed a desire to play Deshaun Watson, who was rumored to be a Dolphins target before the 2021 NFL trade deadline.
“Watson is an elite quarterback now,” the player told Kelly. “We are ready to win.”
Watson’s acquisition seems unlikely at this point. The embattled Texans quarterback wanted to come to Miami to play with Brian Flores, but the Dolphins fired Flores at the start of the offseason. He lost a power struggle with general manager Chris Grier, who was responsible for drafting Tagovailoa in 2020.
As such, it seems likely that Miami will try to build around Tagovailoa for the last two years or so of his rookie deal. However, while Dolphins owner Stephen Ross expressed confidence in Tagovailoa, he said Tua’s starting status would depend on what the new head coach thinks of him.
“He’s a good young man,” Ross said of Tagovailoa. by SI.com. “Right now he’s our quarterback and that will depend on the new head coach, but I have a lot of confidence in Tua.”
It still seems likely that the Dolphins will bring in a new head coach who plans to work to develop Tagovailoa, but perhaps some of the disgruntled players can convince the team to seek some competition for the young quarterback.