It is Tua Tagovailoa time.
I added the period at the end of the opening sentence because when I expected Tua to start playing, I did not expect it to come at a surprising time.
These fireworks were a letdown.
Miami Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was a disaster when the Seattle Seahawks came to town, but he was not that bad to bench. I predicted the San Francisco 49ers game if the struggles continued. Long behold, Fitzmagic appeared. Dolphins won. Jets visited Miami; Dolphins won again so convincingly that Tua had a few snaps to close out the game.
Miami became 3-3 with a bye week.
Dolphins’ head coach Brian Flores had on his poker face, adding Tua “isn’t ready,” after the loss to the Seahawks.
The time is now, surprisingly.
The Dolphins announced they would start their rookie quarterback against the Los Angeles Rams when they return from their bye week on November 1st.
“We feel like through practice, meetings and walkthroughs he is ready, that is how we are going to go moving forward,” Flores said.
I did not expect the Dolphins to make the playoffs, but Flores is making a statement by saying he wants to win now; moreover, Tua gives him the best chance in the position they are in to make the playoffs.
The wait was anticipated since last season when Miami was considered to be tanking for the rights to draft Tua. But Fitzpatrick appeared to find his rhythm moreover ranked in the top 10 in QBR among quarterbacks.
“There is a lot of stuff going through my mind. Is this it? Was that my last game as an NFL player? In terms of playing,” Fitzpatrick shared. “I have been a starter, I have been benched, this one, more than any of them, this organization, what we have been through the last year and a half, this was kind of the first place other than Buffalo I fell fully committed and felt it was my team.”
I doubt Fitzpatrick will remain a Dolphin into next season. He can compete to be a starter elsewhere. Though he can stay a backup, the surprising change has shaken up his emotions.
The veteran quarterback has been classy from the start. Fitzpatrick has been mentoring Tua even while knowing the rookie would eventually take the starting job. The respect as a leader is evident.
Justin Herbert, who was picked behind Tua and who many consider a pair of QBs who will be locked in together for the rest of their careers because the Dolphins passed on him, is playing. The No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow is playing for the Cincinnati Bengals. Neither had a preseason or typical offseason, just like Tua. He will become the third of four rookie first-round quarterbacks to start for their teams.
“I reflect on that process that I went through,” Tagovailoa said. “I am blessed to be here still, to play the game I grew up playing.”
The Miami Herald reported the surprise decision was made primarily between Flores and general manager Chris Grier. Though currently at .500, the bigger picture was winning and be relevant.
“I was very excited; that is news anyone would love to hear, being named the starter, at any position,” Tagovailoa said. “At the same time, I also felt for Fitz as well. Fitz and I had a conversation about all of this. Although it hurts me in a way to see Fitz hurt, I am fortunate to have someone like Fitz.”
Tua has overcome a significant, November 2019, hip injury that threatened his career. Miami was smart not to throw him in the fire. He is motivated by where he has overcome.
Does this change my prediction on the Dolphins making the playoffs? Yes. Currently, at 3-3 the Dolphins can run the table and finish second in their division moreover fight for a wild card. Tua will need to win on the field and in the locker room. His talent is sold across the board. Get your popcorn ready; Tua time is here.