Houtz Special: Dolphins should ‘stay the course’ with Tua Tagovailoa

Last night, the Cleveland Browns defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 35-30 in an exciting primetime game.

This game had everything. And I do mean EVERYTHING.

Odell Beckham Jr. made big plays. Cleveland utilized their two-headed monster in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. And we got a preview of Baker Mayfield vs Joe Burrow. We also got this.

(P.S I miss you Jarvis Landry. #LandryGangGang)

Dolphins can learn a lot from Joe Burrow; Bengals

It was a good night of football.

But my biggest takeaway from this game–besides realizing how foolish it was to sit Kareem Hunt this week for broken Miles Sanders–was that the Dolphins need to stay the course with their young signal-caller.

Because yes, Joe Burrow looked impressive as hell completing a rookie record 37 passes on 61 attempts.

But he also got his ass-kicked, enduring 17 punishing hits throughout the three-hour slugfest.

After the game, Burrow said he was fine. But as we’ve seen first hand in Miami over the years, this type of abuse is not sustainable.

Furthermore, making Burrow throw the ball 61 times is not something we thought we’d see on this day. And behind indubitably the worst offensive line in football, this isn’t exactly a recipe for success.

Now, I know what the first thing is you’re going to say:

bUt MiAmI’S oFfEnSivE LiNe Is BetTeR tHAn CiNcInAtTi’s

Yes, this is true.

But it is also true that Miami has only played ONE game.

Offensively, the Dolphins line played solid. And if younger players like Solomon Kindley, Austin Jackson, and Robert Hunt continue to step up; and the veterans build continuity, there’s no reason why this offensive line can’t rank middle of the pack–at worst.

So, yes I concur that Miami’s offensive line is superior. It’s hard not to be.

Fitzmagic or Fitztragic?

Then there’s also this older, bearded guy on the roster named Ryan Fitzpatrick– whom is playing in his 16th NFL season. Not only did he lead the Dolphins to five wins in 2019 but he’s again reunited with 68-year-old Chan Gailey. Whose offense in week one, admittedly, looked like it hasn’t aged in a few decades. And in their first time together since 2016, there were plenty of kinks to work out.

On Sunday, Fitzpatrick looked much more like his alter-ego FitzTragic–throwing three interceptions in a losing effort. But in 2020, the leash for Fitzpatrick could be longer than a season ago– as Chris Kauffman of 3 Yard’s Per Carry notes in this elegant thread:

And the most important variable–other than health– is how well does the rookie understand Miami’s offense?

After all, we heard all offseason how it’s much more simplified than Chad O’Shea’s from a season ago.

We also know how similar Gailey’s offense is to what Tagovailoa ran in Tuscaloosa.

But in his first taste of the NFL glitz and glamour, Tua did everything asked of him on the sideline. And whether that be communicating with coaches and players, or buckling his chinstrap on every offensive position, The Left Arm of God appeared ready and eager to get out there.

Miami’s starting QB agreed:

“He asked some really good questions. It seemed like he saw the game pretty decent from the sidelines in terms of the stuff that we were talking about and the questions he was asking. It was good. It was a good start just to build on that communication now, just being another set of eyes for me to be able to trust. I thought he did a nice job.”

The Final Yard

Ultimately, it is up to head coach Brian Flores on when he will decide to usher in the new era in Miami.

An era, that many have dreamt about in their heads since the GOAT Dan Marino rode off into the sunset.

And despite all these words I just took an hour to type out, everything could change with another lackluster performance from the veteran Fitzpatrick.

Yes, this is a unique season. But the Dolphins have already been clear that Tua is healthy and able to play. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have sent Josh Rosen packing with a handful of money. Or removed Tagovailoa recently from the team’s injury report.

In the end, no one knows when the Tua Tagovailoa Era will begin in Miami.

But as we saw last season, all it takes is a few costly mistakes and Brian Flores is ready to make a change.

A change that Dolphins fans have desired for most of their life.



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