Monday, January 25, 2021

Tua vs. Tua: The real Dolphins QB Battle

After just six starts it is quite cleat the the Dolphins QB battle has been settled. While sections of the fan base wanted to stick with Ryan Fitzpatrick when the move was made, Tua Tagovailoa has shown enough to prove the decision was the right one.

Has he been perfect? No, of course not. Should anyone have been expecting that, or anointing him the second greatest quarterback in this franchises history? Again, the answer is an obvious no. But the way some in the fan base have reacted over the last 7 weeks has been odd.

The real Dolphins QB battle

Tua has already won the Dolphins QB battle
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) runs with the quarterback keeper as Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) is late with the tackle, during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

To be clear, the only Dolphins QB battle this season has been Tua vs. Tua. Ryan Fitzpatrick was brought in the spring of 2019 to lose just enough games to secure this franchise their presumptive franchise QB. It wasn’t to win, it wasn’t his team. ever.

This should have been clear when the Dolphins traded second and fifth rounders to land Josh Rosen on the second day of the 2019 draft. Fitzpatrick was here as a stop-gap. An entertaining stop-gap, a great leader, and a great guy, but a stop-gap nonetheless.

With Rosen named the started early in 2019 it should have been obvious to everyone that Fitzpatrick’s reign would b short lived. But Rosen showed little and the offence sucked when he was under center and Fitz was back in until the end of the season having won that Dolphins QB battle.

But only two things saw Fitzpatrick start in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic that wiped out large portions of the pre-season, and Tua Tagovailoa’s devastating hip injury in November 2019. If Tua had been 100% healthy and there had been a normal pre-season he would’ve started week 1.

Because whether you are 100% behind him yet or not, the staff are. The staff who we all joined in the “trust the process” pain of 2019 believe in this kid. You’re entitled to your opinion so if you want to flip to not trusting the process you can do that. But it’s you that is changing. Not the team. Not the staff. And certainly not the process.

Tua is in a Dolphins QB battle with himself

The prove of the pudding is in the eating, and any sauce you want to add says that of the Dolphins QB’s the last two seasons, the only one who could be the future is Tua. Fitzpatrick has proved over the length of his career that he is not consistent enough to lead a franchise, and at this point he is too old to invest heavily in.

Dolphins QB battle is closed
Dolphins QB battle is closed

Josh Rosen clearly needs a certain type of offence and system around him in order to flourish and that isn’t the situation in Miami which is why he was released before the season started.

RecordCmpAttPctYardsY/ATDInt
Fitzpatrick9-1148575664.2%5,4387.13221
Tagovailoa4-211418462.0%1,2146.691
Rosen0-35810953.2%5675.215
2019/2020 Miami Dolphins QB performances

There are already signs that the move to start Tua was the right one. Receivers are taking time to adjust to the rotation on his ball, both in terms of the placement and there ability to catch it. In 184 attempts so far this season Tua has already had 12 dropped passes, compared to 13 for Fitzpatrick in 254 attempts.

That’s an increase of 27.4% of dropped balls which is a pretty hefty rise.

There have been times where Tua has been confused, rattled, and downright held the ball too long. Notably against the Broncos, and at times against the Chiefs. But the key was the recovery against the Chiefs. After a rough start, Tua fought out of the struggles and had a great fourth quarter.

So impressive was the rebound that Tua went 13/18 – 154 – 1 – 0 on the Dolphins final three drives of the game. That is what Tua Tagovailoa is capable off.

And this is why this Dolphins QB battle is already simple to define. It’s Tua vs. Tua. The staff can see his one-game ceiling is already higher than Fitzpatricks. He will struggle at times because he’s a rookie, but that’s part of the process.

Tua IS the future, and while there is still a question about whether he will reach his potential there is no doubt that he will be given time to find out. And that is really the crux of the Dolphins QB battle that remains: Can Tua become a true great of the game.

It’s Tua vs. Tua now. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

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