The Dolphins will start Tua Tagoaviloa coming out of their Week 7 bye, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Tagovailoa made his NFL debut in Week 6 against the Jets in mop-up duty, completing both his late passes for nine total yards. After being selected No. 3 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, Tagovailoa has watched-and-learned from veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick while Tagovailoa finished his recovery from a 2019 dislocated hip. Now after a bye in Week 7 that’ll give Tagovailoa extra time to prepare, he’s slated to be the starting quarterback at home against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday in Week 8.
Here’s why the Dolphins made this move now.
MORE: Tua Tagovailoa sat on the field alone after his NFL debut
Dolphins’ bye week moved
Tagovailoa has never started an NFL game. He’s never gone through a game week planning to start an NFL game. So for the rookie, any extra time can only be beneficial.
Miami’s bye week was originally scheduled for Week 11. But due to shifting in the schedule caused by COVID-19, the Dolphins had their bye week moved up to Week 7. If Miami wanted to give Tagovailoa extra time to prepare as the starter, this was going to be the week to do it.
There had been some speculation that Tagovailoa could be given the role after the Dolphins played on Thursday Night Football in Week 3 and would have 10 days before playing again, but that didn’t come to pass. This time, the extra preparation time will be used to transition from Fitzpatrick to Tagovailoa.
Tua Tagovailoa’s finally healthy
The Dolphins have had Tagovailoa active as a backup for much of the season, so their confidence in his recovery from a dislocated hip must’ve already been strong. But they certainly wouldn’t have used him in garbage time against the Jets if they had any lingering doubts.
Tagovailoa looked as healthy as a player can look on one possession, including completing his first NFL pass while rolling to his left, the same direction he rolled before suffering the injury that ended his college career at Alabama.
The Dolphins have been mostly silent on Tagovailoa’s health throughout the season, but he hasn’t been listed on the injury report “hip” next to his name since Week 2.
A healthy Tagovailoa is one of the most tantalizing talents in football. He threw for 7,442 yards across three seasons at Alabama with a ridiculous 87-to-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio. That included his heroism in the national championship game as a freshman and another trip to the title game as a sophomore. The left-handed passer likely would’ve been the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft if not for Joe Burrow’s emergence at LSU.
Why did the Dolphins bench Ryan Fitzpatrick?
The most curious part of this decision isn’t about Tagovailoa he’s been destined to be an NFL starter for years, and his status as a first-round draft pick was going to eventually give him a crack at being Miami’s franchise quarterback. What’s weirder is that Miami chose to bench Fitzpatrick now.
Fitzpatrick has been a journeyman basically his whole NFL career, but he’s been a pretty good one, and he had the Dolphins off to a 3-3 start this season. That including a 43-17 shellacking of defending Super Bowl finalists San Francisco in Week 5. Fitzpatrick’s 70.1 percent completion percentage he currently holds would be a career-best, and he’s formed strong passing-game relationships with receivers DeVante Parker and Preston Williams, along with tight end Mike Gesicki.
Theres not a better QB to learn from and grow under than Ryan Fitzpatrick. Theres also not a better QB to helping out any QB who replaced him.
Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 20, 2020
The reality is that Fitzpatrick was never going to stand in Tagovailoa’s way. He was always the place holder. Unless he had the Dolphins 6-0 and was the MVP frontrunner, Tagovailoa was going to take over at the time Miami wanted him to. Apparently, now is that time.