The most significant development of the weekend for the Dolphins occurred far from Hard Rock Stadium.
Matter of fact, nothing was gained in the desultory 37-20 loss to the Bills on Sunday, not even in relation to next year’s draft. At 2-8, the Dolphins remain positioned to pick fourth behind the Bengals, Redskins and Giants.
It is pure speculation what that means in the wake of the devastating injury to Alabama quarterback Tua Tagavailoa on Saturday.
#TankForTua has given way to #PrayForTua.
One can only hope that Alabama team orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lyle Cain’s optimistic report following surgery on Tua’s right hip Monday in Houston proves accurate. Cain said in a post-op statement: “Tua’s prognosis is excellent, and we expect him to make a full recovery.”
Whether or not a full recovery equates to Tua being able to perform at the level of his brilliant collegiate career, which ended abruptly on one unfortunate landing, won’t be known for many months.
And it is immaterial how his health may affect Dolphins draft plans.
As an observer, I am more interested in athletes than teams. The special ones are a treasure. So I’m rooting for Tua foremost — for his sake but also for the hope of seeing his talent blossom in the NFL regardless of what uniform he might wear.
Comeback complicated for Tua
Whether he will get that opportunity remains to be seen.
The comments of Dr. Louis Levitt, in a report by CBS Sports, provide an indication of the complex variables of Tua’s injury — a dislocated hip with a fracture to the posterior wall — and the recovery process he faces. A similar injury ended Bo Jackson’s NFL career.
Levitt, vice president and secretary for The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics in Washington, D.C., told CBS Sports: “… the perfect scenario, the ball is back in the socket, there are no loose fragments in the socket, it is a single piece of the socket that can easily be put back. He doesn’t get any complications and then, if all the Gods shine down on him, he then can probably get back to playing and retain his professional potential within a year.”
Again, the primary concern is for the well being of a young athlete whose future has been clouded by an injury that is rare even in the violent sport he plays.
As it relates to the Dolphins, it illuminates the folly of trying to tailor the fortunes — or misfortunes — of an entire season with the aim of being in position to draft a particular player.
This most confusing Dolphins season, which had some fans rooting for losses to improve draft position, has gotten more so.
Already some Dolfans are shifting focus to LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, while others want the team to take a chance on Tua making that full recovery.
All of which is premature and wasted energy. It will be weeks before Tua is permitted to put weight on his surgically repaired hip and months before he can try to attempt football maneuvers. As a junior, he may not even enter the 2020 NFL draft.
What about Kap?
If you want to speculate, why not throw the name of Colin Kaepernick into the mix? The controversial exile quarterback, showed in a special workout Saturday that he is able as well as eager to get back into the league.
The bottom line is, in stripping down the roster, Dolphins GM Chris Grier has accumulated a load of draft picks, including three first-round choices in 2020.
He will have ample opportunity to address some of their many needs, including a quarterback. And with an estimated $117 million in cap space ahead of next season, there will be flexibility in signing free agents to fill other needs.
The one thing Sunday’s one-sided loss to the Bills underscored was how widespread Miami’s needs are. The Dolphins can’t run (23 yards on 13 carries, ouch!) or stop the run (168 yards, 4.9 per carry allowed). They can’t protect the quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick sacked seven times) or muster a pass rush (zero sacks of Josh Allen).
Rather than pinning hopes on one presumed savior QB, it will come down to choices — as it always does.
Thus the concern is not that a couple of wins have taken the Dolphins out of the running for the first overall pick. It is that too often in the past, they have simply made the wrong choices.
Craig Davis has covered South Florida sports and teams, including the Dolphins, for four decades. Follow him on Twitter @CraigDavisRuns