In a somewhat surprising move, the Miami Dolphins decided to hand the keys to the team to rookie Tua Tagovailoa, drafted fifth overall this year, when they return from their bye week against the Los Angeles Rams.
We say “surprising” not because Tua is lacking in talent, but instead because Ryan Fitzpatrick was doing a very good job as the starter, with a 10/7 TD/INT ratio, a 70.05 completion percentage, a 95 QB rating, 7.8 yards per attempt, and even a couple of rushing scores.
The fact that Fitzpatrick was playing at a high level and got demoted to backup duties anyway tells us that Miami had already planned the move, probably for a long time.
Tua will be thrown into the fire against a Rams defense that allows the tenth fewest passing yards in the league and is fifth in sacks with 20. The foe, as you can see, won’t be easy, and he will have to deal with Aaron Donald and company. After the Rams, the difficult Arizona Cardinals are on the schedule.
From that point on, Tua and the Dolphins will face the Chargers, Broncos, Jets, and Bengals, all beatable opponents with some vulnerabilities on defense.
Tua has to prove that he’s fully recovered from a hip surgery that likely cost him a shot at a top-three pick in the NFL Draft. When he’s healthy, Tua is an accurate passer that thrives on run-pass options because of his running prowess. He’s athletic and smart, usually taking good decisions with the ball.
It’s probably not fair to expect Tua to be a QB1 right out of the gate. He has that kind of ceiling long-term, but let the kid get his feet wet first. If he’s floating around your league’s waiver wire, I think he’s worth a claim just on upside alone, unless you are in a very shallow league. Those in two-quarterback and Superflex formats could gain a viable starter going forward if all goes well.
For now, he’ll have to show that he can play at a similar level than Fitzpatrick, who was comfortably in the top 15 when it comes to quarterbacks.
But how does the move impact everyone else in the Dolphins offense? Here are five winners and losers of Tua Time in Miami.
Winner: Myles Gaskin
The sophomore back stands to benefit from Tua’s presence as the starting signal-caller. Since we didn’t have a preseason to watch Tua after the hip surgery, it’s safe to work under the assumption that Fitzpatrick is, for now, the better passer. That could result in Miami wanting to establish the run more with Gaskin, who is coming off putting 100+ total yards against the lowly Jets. Additionally, rookie QBs tend to throw their fair share of check downs and short passes, which suits Gaskin thanks to his pass-catching ability.
Loser: DeVante Parker
Parker is still the Dolphins number one receiver regardless of who’s under center, but there is a chance that Tua doesn’t take too many downfield shots. Again, this is based on pure speculation given that we didn’t get a chance to see Tua against NFL competition yet. Maybe the kid starts throwing bomb after bomb and shuts all of us up. Let’s just say that Parker’s gets a very slight downgrade moving forward, but his upside remains that of a WR2.
Winner: Mike Gesicki
Gesicki has been inconsistent this season, with two strong games and four disappointing ones. For the same reasons as Gaskin, Gesicki should get more looks from Tua now that the 22-year old will be under center. Maybe Tagovailoa’s presence can get Gesicki more regularly involved as a short passing option.
Loser: Preston Williams
Williams isn’t exactly the model of consistency—his receiving yards total per game so far are 41, 26, 7, 15, 106, and 18—but whether Tua is a constant threat to go deep remains to be seen and Williams’ total output could be more affected by the quarterback change than Parker’s.
Loser: Ryan Fitzpatrick managers
Well, duh. Those who took a chance on Fitzmagic were being handsomely rewarded, but now, they suddenly and unexpectedly lost a starting quarterback.