It seems like just yesterday, ESPN’s Matt Hasselbeck was concerned with how veteran players in the Miami Dolphins locker room would take to news of Tua Tagovailoa’s promotion. We all know how well-liked and respected Fitzpatrick is in the locker room. But the time was now. And whether it was a decision made from upstairs or Flores had this plan in mind from the start (I think it was a little of both), one thing is crystal clear.
It’s Tua’s team.
Ready or not, we are five days away from the Dolphins starting their 2020 first-round pick.
Unfortunately, this move is being looked at by some in a negative light. Which seems strange because those same people were questioning why he wasn’t starting because of Burrow and Herbert’s success, a few weeks prior. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. But now everyone is like:
“mIaMi hAs tO seE wHaT tHeY hAvE iN TuA sInCe BurRoW ANd HeRbErt aRe pLaYiNg WelL”
I don’t watch ESPN. Not since the NFL Network came to town. But thankfully our good friend over at the Palm Beach Post Joe Schad does, and like always he has the inside scoop.
Matt Hasselbeck is concerned that the players in the Dolphins locker room might resent the benching of Ryan Fitzpatrick. He says Flo is a good soldier but the move doesn’t smell like a coaching decision. (Note: Flo did cite GM, personnel dept.) staff, in announcement).
— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) October 25, 2020
Here’s also a thread with a video of the epic 9-minute segment on ESPN NFL Sunday Countdown.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) October 25, 2020
So yes, apparently this is a thing. But I’m here to put to rest this silly narrative–with cold hard facts.
Dolphins players have nothing but good things to say about the left-handed quarterback
Shortly after ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news that Tagovailoa would be starting, several of Miami’s players met with the media to discuss the coach’s decision.
Here’s what linebacker Jerome Baker had to say about the Dolphins’ decision to start Tagovailoa.
“He’s a smart, collective young man…. He is definitely going to be a future great player in this league. I think we are all excited; we all know what he can do. I think the one thing that surprises me or surprised me – I always tell this story – is when he first came in, we went through a few practices, and we threw so many different looks at him. Instead of getting down on himself or saying it’s too hard or whatever, getting emotional, after practice, it was me and Bobby (McCain), he came by and just asked us questions. He asked for advice on what can he work on, what can he see, whatever it is that he can get better. I think that was the one thing that really stuck to me. He just truly wants to get better, he just truly wants to help us win. I’m definitely happy that he gets his shot.”
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Players back from BYE with LOTS to say.
With the BYE week to regroup and now the team back in the facilities to prepare for the Los Angeles Rams; more of Tagovailoa’s teammates would be asked their opinion on Flores’ decision. And what we heard from players, doesn’t quite fit Hasselbeck’s narrative.
First, Dolphins defensive end Shaq Lawson met with the media. And as you’d expect, he was excited.
“For Tua, getting an opportunity to start, that kid is incredible. I’m looking forward to going out there and playing with him on Sunday. I’ve seen a lot of him in practice and how athletic he is, how incredible of a player he is. To get to see it on Sunday this week, it’s going to be incredible. He’s going to lead this team in the right way.”
After Lawson was done gushing about Tagovailoa, it was Preston Williams turn to talk about the quarterback change.
preston williams on news of tua starting vs rams
"i thought it was pretty cool tua getting his first start. i'm excited for it."
— josh houtz (@houtz) October 26, 2020
Williams said he and Tua have practiced together throughout the offseason. When asked what Tua does best in practice, Williams responded:
“Obviously throwing. Making plays. Everything you want in a quarterback. Y’all have seen his tape. It speaks for itself. Like I said, we’re excited that Tua is making his start, just like everybody else. I’m excited to see him in his first game action against the Rams.”
Lastly, he was asked if the Dolphins have to flip the playbook to account for Tua’s left-handedness, the same way Steve Mariucci once talked about having to do with Steve Young in San Francisco.
“No. Tua can throw going left just as good as he can throw going right. That’s why he’s here. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.”
One of Tua’s largest targets–tight end Mike Gesicki–wasted no time discussing Tua.
gesicki:"first and foremost, super excited for tua. i think he's done a great job all the way back to college. doing his rehab; and being in the position he is in now. he's practiced hard..can't wait to get out there and work with him."
— josh houtz (@houtz) October 26, 2020
The last individual we heard from during Monday’s zoom calls was Dolphins head coach Brian Flores–who gave us a look at what goes into his Tuesday meetings with his rookie QB.
“It’s game film, it’s practice film, it’s situations. He’s a young player. He’s got a lot to learn. He tries to be a sponge. I think everyone can see that – players, coaches, this team. I think it’s – he wants to learn, and he wants to see it from all different aspects. I give him a defensive aspect, he gets it from (Offensive Coordinator) Chan (Gailey) obviously from the offensive side of the ball. He asks defensive players things that they saw. That’s just the type of kid he is, and it’s a good thing. He tries to learn as much as he can, and I think as a teacher, and as a coach, I think that’s what you are looking for. I try to watch as many different things as possible; but obviously you don’t want to overload the kid. I know he’s getting a lot of information from a lot of different places. Our meetings are more, I would say, me giving him the defensive perspective, and I think as an offensive player, if you understand the thought process from the other side of the ball, it can make you a better player. I know that’s the case defensively, when you think of how they are trying to attack us offensively. That’s what those conversations are like.”
He also went on to voice his frustration about the outside noise.
flores: "I think the guys rally around each other. they support one another. to think there would be division because a guy doesn't play well? i don't think we have that on this team. when guys make mistakes, this team rallies around each other and picks each other up."
— josh houtz (@houtz) October 26, 2020
In the end, no one really cares what Matt Hasselback has to say.
Everyone knew Tua was the future of the Dolphins the day he was drafted—Ryan Fitzpatrick included. And while it seemed like odd timing due to Miami’s 3-3 start. It was clear to anyone that watched the team, this offense was in need of a much-needed injection.
Now we sit here and listen to the players sing Tua’s praises. After all, they saw what he was capable of in practice.
— josh houtz (@houtz) October 2, 2020
Dan Marino retired in March of 2000 and the Dolphins franchise has never been the same since. But for the first time since that historic day, it feels like this franchise is headed in the right direction. And whether you’re ready or not, this is Tagovailoa’s team.
If that’s a problem. Tua bad.
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