Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores just coached his worst game at the worst possible time, and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa just played his worst game at the worst possible time.
The Buffalo Bills just rolled the Miami Dolphins, 56-26, in Week 17 of the NFL season. The Dolphins needed to win the game to have a chance at making the playoffs.
This game made it clear to me that the Dolphins should just go ahead and draft a new quarterback because they clearly don't suit or seem willing to suit Tua Tagovailoa.
The Problem For Tua Tagovailoa
At Alabama, Tua enjoyed a conveyer belt of elite receivers who continuously got open. Henry Ruggs with speed, Jerry Jeudy with elite route-running, Devonta Smith with a mix of both.
At the NFL level, Tua does not have this elite level talent around him to bail him out of tough situations.
Those Bama receivers are all first round level receivers who consistently created separation at the college level. The Miami Dolphins are not stacked at receiver and have one good tight end. The offense needs a QB to compensate for this lack of talent by being a playmaker/gunslinger. Tua Tagovailoa so early in his career is not that quarterback right now, coming off such a cushy and comfy situation at Bama straight to being asked to lift an average receiving core to be good enough to allow the Dolphins passage to the Playoff's was always going to be a tall task.
The young QB buckled under all the weight against the Buffalo Bills.
The Contrast In Playcalling Between The Dolphins And The Lions
There was a play sequence on Sunday where Josh Allen went four plays for a touchdown.
While this is impressive, what stands out to me is how the Dolphins treated Tua Tagovailoa the play series before. Constant run calls, baby passes to the running back or dink and dunk throws. The Dolphins were not allowing Tua to make any risky throws or push the ball down the field in what was essentially a must win game.
I believe Tua can be this type of playmaker, but clearly the Dolphins don't and if that's the case they should seriously consider just moving off him.
Franchise quarterbacks take the weight of the organization on their shoulders and bear it e.g Josh Allen now. The Dolphins did not feel Tua Tagovailoa could bear this burden which is very concerning considering we are 8 games (half a season) into his career. The playoff's were on the line and the Bills let their QB push the ball down the field cause they believe in his ability to propel their offense forward, the Dolphins? Not so much.
The Future Is Up In The Air For Tua Tagovailoa and The Miami Dolphins.
Brian Flores is the true Bill Belichick disciple. The Miami Dolphins organization now greatly mirrors the New England Patriots. A strong defense led by playmakers in the back end, the Dolphins always make an effort to establish the run in every game even late when it hasn't worked all day, Brian Flores is the disciplinarian who holds everyone to a certain standard.
All that's missing is his own Tom Brady. A super accurate Quarterback who does not turn the ball over and comes up clutch more times than not.
Tua Tagovailoa projected to be this kind of Quarterback even from his early days at Bama where he led them on a game winning drive as a freshman subbing on for an underperforming starter. Tua was known for his accuracy as many projected his comp to be Drew Brees. Sadly the Dolphins receiving core do not need Drew Brees they need Josh Allen or Russell Wilson. They can not create separation so they need someone to throw them open or take chances on 50-50 balls that are more 40-60 and Tua Tagovailoa is just not this guy in his career yet.
Whether people like to admit or not Tua Tagovailoa and Tom Brady came up under excellent defensive head coaches and a lot of their games is based on being high level game managers who operate within the frameworks provided. If that collapses they are asked to carry a malfunctioning offense as the coaching staff tries to make adjustments. Tom Brady was trusted by Bill Belichick to carry the offense if need be, Tua Tagovailoa had this trust with Nick Saban but not yet with Brian Flores. As long as this trust does not exist Tua will keep getting pulled out for Ryan Fitzpatrick who coach Flores believes is a playmaker and can elevate that average group that failed to produce a thousand yard receiver.
The Miami Dolphins had a whole season to coach Tua Tagovailoa up to the level they felt comfortable enough to let him play some games. The kid has had some bright spots but his best will only come when you revisit that receiving room and change those low level Mike Evans into Julian Edelman clones. If the receivers can naturally get open as Tua makes his reads the offense will function a whole lot better.
Hopefully this offseason the Miami Dolphins offense and Tua Tagovailoa takes the next step to match what has been an excellent defensive season.Published 05 Jan 2021, 01:59 IST