The Miami Dolphins ended their 2020-2021 campaign with a record of 10-6 falling just short of the NFL Playoffs, regardless the team surpassed expectations. One focus of the season was rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins drafted Tua with the 5th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Tua later got his first start in Week 7 vs the Los Angeles Rams at home.
Tua ended his rookie campaign with a total of 13 touchdowns, which includes rushing TD’s as well, 1814 yards and five interceptions. At first sight many people were quick to criticize Tua, because of the comparisons to Justin Herbert’s historic rookie season and Burrows success with the Bengals prior to his injury. However at some extent this criticism has to stop. Tua did not have a bad season at all, it was solid by all means. Going 6-4 as a starter and falling one game short of a postseason berth. Yes, he did get benched twice throughout the season due to the inability of not being able to get anything going offensively however let’s look at what he had to work with for most of the season.
Offensive weapons wise the Dolphins didn’t have many other than star tight end in Mike Gesicki and Devante Parker who was battling a hamstring injury. Other than that Tua was throwing to Jakeem Grant, Lynn Bowden, Mack Hollins, Isaiah Ford, Adam Shaheen and Durham Smythe. It’s clear that Tua had a lack of offensive weapons to work with however he made the best of it when he could.
Tua’s best games from his first year include a road comeback win over the Arizona Cardinals, another two wins vs the Bengals and Patriots at home and a loss vs the Kansas City Chiefs. In each of these games Tua played really well and threw for 200+ yards (except vs. the Patriots) and had eight touchdowns passing and rushing wise.
Onto coaching, Tua did not have the best offensive coordinator in Chan Gailey. Throughout most of Tua’s starts Gailey was not able to maximize Tua’s strength and tailor the offense to him. However it was not always the case as previously stated during Tua’s best games Gailey’s play calling was on point, but at other times it was not. There were not many plays allowing Tua to showcase his arm strength and when he would drop balls would occur. An offensive coordinator that does not consistently match their starting qbs style of play will not yield the right results. Gailey later on resigned from being the Dolphins offensive coordinator earlier this month.
Lastly Tua like other rookie QB’s had barely any training camp and no pre season games to help them improve. Tua also spent most of the offseason recovering from his hip injury.
So what can the Dolphins do to help Tua? First they have a flurry of draft picks in the upcoming years beginning with having the 3rd (from Houston), 18th, 36th and 50th in the first two rounds of this year’s draft. Many big names like DeVonta Smith, JaMarr Chase, Najee Harris and Travis Etienne should appeal to Miami to help build around Tua. In addition there are also big names available in free agency and the Dolphins stand at 8th with the most cap available this offseason.
Tua has the talent and he proved it in Alabama as one of the best in CFB, the Dolphins just need to build around him and are in prime position to do so. Doing this, the Dolphins will be putting themselves in position to compete for it all for years to come. The future is bright in Miami.
Image: CBS Sports