Depending on who you talk to, Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa either broke well past expectations for his rookie year, or he flopped harder than Jamarcus Russell did for the Raiders. So what can Dolphins fans expect in year 2? Will we see Tua take that leap and become an elite level QB in the league? Or will we see Tua descend into QB purgatory, and see the Dolphins back in the market? I believe Tua will rise to the challenge and become one of the top level QB’s in the league.
- Tua’s Hip is Healthy
While Tua was in his final season of college at Alabama, he suffered a couple pretty serious injuries. He suffered a high-ankle sprain on October 19 against Tennessee. While that injury typically takes more than 6 weeks to heal properly, Tagovailoa was able to rehab and get back on the field in time to play his heart out in a home loss to LSU. The following week, the unthinkable happened. Tua, rolling left, got tackled awkwardly and dislocated his hip.
In a bang-bang play, Tua suffered what’s become known as the Bo Jackson injury. After being rushed into surgery and having to be very tentative with his hip, Tua was expected to make a full recovery. But what exactly did this mean?
As someone who has also suffered that dreadful injury, I can share that a full recovery is almost completely impossible with an injury like that. It takes about a year to fully recover from it, and Tua was trying to workout, throw, and run drills 5 months afterwards. We were already halfway through the NFL season, and Tua starting, by the time he should have been fully recovered from the injury.
When asked about his hip injury over 2 years ago, Tua said, “My hip feels ten times better than it did last year. I feel very confident coming into my second year”
Last offseason, Tua was trying to rehab a potentially life threatening injury while trying to dive into the playbook and get accustomed to NFL speed. This offseason, Tua has been able to focus more on getting a full grasp of the playbook and offensive schemes, developing chemistry with his receivers.
2. Tua’s Got New Toys
Last season, the Dolphins offense ranked 20th in passing yards/game, and 15th in points/game (ESPN). Out of 32 teams, the Dolphins ranked below average, and just barely above average in two important areas when it comes to passing the ball. Now it’s a little hard to be stellar when your number 2 receiving option in Albert Wilson opts out due to COVID-19 and your deep threat in Jakeem Grant suffered so many drops and, unfortunately, was unable to remain on the field. So what did the Dolphins do to try to bolster their passing game this offseason? They went out and got Will Fuller and drafted Jaylen Waddle.
Fuller, who was the deep threat option for Houston, ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at the combine in 2016. He was also PFF’s 9th highest graded receiver during his 2020 breakout campaign. Through 11 games, he hauled in 53 passes for 879 yards and 8 TD’s. Fuller also caught 70.7% of his passes, which was the highest in the league last season.
Jaylen Waddle on the other hand, was hauling in passes from a fellow first rounder at Tua’s old stomping grounds: Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Waddle was a highly sought after recruit who ended up deciding to join a stacked receiving corps at Alabama. As the 4th option during his freshman season, it was actually his most productive season at Alabama. Hauling in 45 catches for 848 yards and 7 TD’s, Waddle was able to find his numbers despite sitting behind 3 future first rounders. His sophomore campaign was also very productive, at 33 catches for 560 yards with 6 TD’s. Waddle was poised for his best season yet in 2020, with the top 2 options ahead of him heading to the NFL Draft, and posting 591 yards with 4 TD’s through 6 games, although he suffered a near season ending injury in a road game at Tennessee. Waddle fought his way back for the National Championship game though, and despite being hobbled by a clearly not fully ready ankle, Waddle was still a core peice to that Alabama offense.
3. Tua’s Experienced
Last offseason, Tua was a rookie, who was coming off a major career threatening injury, was trying to learn a playbook, dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and protocols, as well as trying to adjust to the speed of the NFL. All that, for Tua to still start by mid season and carry the Dolphins almost to a playoff berth. Now, Tua has experience with NFL defenses and real time game speed. He learned under Ryan Fitzpatrick, and was able to watch how to command a 4th quarter offense without having to deal with the fire storm that is the 4th quarter of a close game in the NFL.