An offensive line needs to work together as a team in order to properly protect their quarterback. Coming from Alabama, no one knows that better than Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa. Alabama offensives lines are notorious for being some of the best in college football on a regular basis. In college, Tagovailoa was well protected and could properly showcase his ability. Unfortunately, things are different in Miami.
It’s no secret that the Dolphins have struggled to build a solid offensive line over the past decade or so. Sometimes the front office doesn’t invest enough resources. Other times the players acquired simply don’t live up to lofty expectations. Regardless of the why, Miami’s offensive line has not seen stability in a long time. Even now, 1st round pick Austin Jackson is fighting to prove he was worth picking 18th overall in the 2020 draft.
For now, the Miami Dolphins are being patient with Jackson. He is extremely young and his ceiling is high, but he is also in need of coaching to reach that ceiling. Jackson’s performance against the Chicago Bears in the preseason can only be described as abysmal. While reports indicate he’s doing marginally better against the Atlanta Falcons in joint practices, there was also a report that Tua Tagovailoa pulled Jackson aside and had to have a talk with him about something.
Tua is talking to Austin Jackson on the sidelines and it doesn’t look like a pleasant conversation.
— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) August 18, 2021
Later that same day, Tagovailoa spoke to the media and was asked about the nature of this discussion. His answer was straightforward, but revealed something that should not be overlooked.
“It’s just communicating.” Tagovailoa said. “Just, ‘hey, how are you feeling in the back there.’ For me, just kind of talking to those guys about what I’m feeling and what I’m seeing as far as pressure and just communicating that to them. They don’t see everything. All they see is the guy they’re blocking.”
That right there says a lot about Tua Tagovailoa. He’s not only taking command of his own level of play, he’s doing his part to elevate the others around him. It is important for leaders to lead by example, which he’s doing. But there’s also the verbal aspect of it, which Tagovailoa was limited with during his rookie season. When Ryan Fitzpatrick was with the Dolphins, Tagovailoa took a step back. Now this is his football team, and he’s treating it as such.
“He’s doing a great job, he’s doing a great job leadership-wise.” Austin Jackson said on Thursday. “He’s going into his second year. Him also like myself, having a whole year under your belt and then getting an offseason to prepare, you can anticipate more things. That’s really what football comes down to. We all can line up and play but you have to anticipate stuff. I think he’s definitely gotten a lot better with that … He’s our quarterback … being a quarterback is a lot of responsibility at the end of the day. He can’t run our routes, he can’t call all of our protections, so I think that’s kind of where the 11 people working as one thing comes together. He’s definitely a leader of the offense.”
For Jackson to still speak so highly of Tua Tagovailoa just one day after being pulled to the side by him, that speaks volumes about the level of respect Tagovailoa has built inside that locker room. Fans can fondly look back on the memories created by Ryan Fitzpatrick’s two-year tenure with the Miami Dolphins, but this is Tagovailoa’s team now. The only real weak spot left is the offensive line, and Tagovailoa is not letting the chips fall where they may.
The young QB out of Alabama is taking a very active role in developing the offense, even on the offensive line. Already, they’re showing signs of improvement as practices continue. Give credit to what he’s doing. Not every QB has the charisma or the courage to do what Tua Tagovailoa is doing.
Luis Sung has covered the Miami Dolphins for numerous outlets such as Dolphins Wire for seven years. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
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