Last week, Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said Tua Tagovailoa will be the team’s starting quarterback in 2021.
Some of Tagovailoa’s teammates are questioning that decision.
Speaking anonymously, three Dolphins players told the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero they didn’t see enough from the fifth overall draft pick this season to have confidence in him as their starter moving forward.
“I understand what (Grier and head coach Brian Flores) said,” one player said. “But I don’t understand why.”
They said they were unimpressed by Tagovailoa during training camp to the point they thought he wouldn’t be ready to play in 2020. They said they were “caught totally off guard,” as one put it, when Tagovailoa was named the starter the seventh game of the season.
And another said that before the season finale when players were informed by Flores that Ryan Fitzpatrick would not be available against the Buffalo Bills, he was disappointed because he believes Fitzpatrick was better than Tagovailoa. …
One defensive player said he isn’t impressed with Tagovailoa’s ball velocity or arm strength or ability to make off-schedule plays with his legs. So he ultimately questions whether Tagovailoa will ever be able to match the feats of other quarterbacks in the AFC such as Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson.
“Those are the boys we got to beat, right?” this player said. “It looks right now like that’s going to be a big challenge.”
An offensive player said he likes Tagovailoa a lot as a teammate and is hopeful he becomes “great someday.”
But that same player added he “got frustrated” when Flores told the team Fitzpatrick would not be available for the season finale against Buffalo.
“We always think next man up no matter what,” the player said. “But I saw Tua as the next man up because Fitz was better.”
Tagovailoa, who was coming off a hip injury that ended his college career, showed flashes of potential as a rookie but was benched for Fitzpatrick in two of his nine starts. With Fitzpatrick unavailable for Week 17 after testing positive for COVID-19, Tagovailoa threw three interceptions in a blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills that crushed Miami’s playoff hopes.
By committing to Tagovailoa, the Dolphins are passing up the opportunity to take a shot on another high-level rookie quarterback. They currently own the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft (via the Houston Texans), at which point either Ohio State’s Justin Fields or BYU’s Zach Wilson will be available.
Miami likely would reconsider its stance if Watson, who reportedly is highly displeased with the behind-the-scenes machinations in Houston, becomes a legitimate trade possibility. The Dolphins have been rumored as a potential landing spot for the Texans’ superstar QB if he is dealt.