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#pounditFriday, May 7, 2021

Tua Tagovailoa

Tua Tagovailoa replaced by Ryan Fitzpatrick after awkward tackle on sack

Tua Tagovailoa

Tua Tagovailoa was replaced at quarterback by Ryan Fitzpatrick during the fourth quarter of the Miami Dolphins’ game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

The Dolphins were down 20-10 at Denver with under 10 minutes remaining when Fitzpatrick took over. There were questions about whether Tua was replaced due to performance or injury reasons. Tagovailoa entered the game with a foot injury, and CBS’ announcers speculated both reasons factored into the QB change.

There were further questions about whether the tackle Tagovailoa took on a sack led him to be replaced.

Tagovailoa’s left leg/foot appeared to get bent awkwardly on the sack, which was the sixth one he had taken in the game.

The rookie quarterback was not having a good game. He was 11/20 for 83 yards and a touchdown prior to being replaced. The Dolphins entered the game on a five-game winning streak.

Tua Tagovailoa has surprising quote after Dolphins win

Tua Tagovailoa

Tua Tagovailoa showed off some of his electric skills in Sunday’s win over Arizona, but he seemingly didn’t feel as good as he looked.

The rookie quarterback won his second career start Sunday with a 34-31 victory over the Cardinals. Tagovailoa went 20/28 for 248 yards, adding 35 rushing yards on seven carries. On one particularly memorable play, he turned a potential sack into a first down with some shifty moves on the defense.

Despite that, Tagovailoa said after the game that he’d never felt so slow on a football field.

“That was probably the slowest I ever felt,” Tagovailoa said, via Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. “I felt I was running in quicksand.”

That’s a surprise, as Tagovailoa looked pretty fluid. That said, he’s still getting his legs under him in NFL action, especially in light of the fact that he hasn’t played much game action since the hip injury he suffered last season at Alabama.

Tagovailoa is still getting the feel of the NFL, but he’s only going to gain confidence the more he does. That was reflected in these comments he made last week, too.

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Brian Flores has blunt assessment of Tua Tagovailoa’s first NFL start

Tua Tagovailoa

It sounds like Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores wants to see plenty of improvement from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Flores offered a blunt assessment of Tagovailoa’s performance in the team’s win over the Los Angeles Rams, and suggested the rookie has a lot to work on.

“Some good plays, some bad plays,” Flores said, via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. “A lot of things we can get fixed. First time out, some good, some bad. Hopefully we see some improvement next week.”

Tagovailoa went 12/22 for 93 yards and a touchdown. Those aren’t great numbers, but the Dolphins clearly wanted to keep things simple and run a relatively unambitious offense for the rookie’s first start. It worked in terms of winning the game, but it also clearly demonstrated to Flores and his staff what Tagovailoa needs to work on.

Tua, meanwhile, had this fairly surprising take on how his day went.

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Tua Tagovailoa has surprising comment about first hit he took

Tua Tagovailoa

Tua Tagovailoa’s first NFL start went well, and he even found something enjoyable about the first hit.

On just his second snap of the game, Tagovailoa was sacked by star defensive lineman Aaron Donald and fumbled the ball away. The Rams promptly scored four plays later.

In spite of that, Tagovailoa indicated that he actually enjoyed taking the hit.

“I don’t know who it was that took me off my feet and bodyslammed me,” Tagovailoa said, via Cameron Wolfe of ESPN. “I’m not going to lie, I did enjoy getting hit that first time.”

Tagovailoa probably didn’t enjoy the fumble, but the sentiment makes sense. After all, this is a guy who had to work his way back from hip surgery in order to make his NFL debut. Taking the hit and getting up afterward was a big moment for him personally.

The rookie ended up going 12/22 for 93 yards and a touchdown in a 28-17 victory. Encouragingly, the fumble ended up being Tagovailoa’s only turnover of the day.

It’s pretty easy to see how much Tagovailoa’s NFL career means to him. That’s why he’ll relish every moment, even the big hits.

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Report: Draft picks were factor in Dolphins making Tua Tagovailoa starter

Tua Tagovailoa

Many were surprised when the Miami Dolphins named Tua Tagovailoa their starting quarterback, as veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick had played well for the team dating back to last season. However, the decision is one that Fitzpatrick clearly should not take personally.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the picks the Dolphins have in next year’s NFL Draft were a significant factor in the decision to hand the starting QB job over to Tagovailoa. Miami has the Houston Texans’ first- and second-round picks in the 2021 Draft from when they traded Pro Bowl offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil to Houston last year. Because they are so well positioned, they want to get a feel for whether or not Tagovailoa has what it takes to be a franchise quarterback.

The Texans are 1-6 entering Week 8. They could wind up having one of the top picks in next year’s draft. Miami, at 3-3, may also have a fairly high pick. In theory, the Dolphins could use one of those picks or combine them to trade up in the draft to select a top quarterback. If Tagovailoa plays well this year, they won’t have to think about doing that and can focus on other areas.

Fitzpatrick was understandably crushed when the Dolphins benched him, though all indications are he is still being a great teammate. The 37-year-old knew he was only a placeholder for Tagovailoa, even if he didn’t expect the change to be made this soon.

Dolphins fans! It’s time to roll in a new era in Miami. This Roll Fins shirt is a perfect gift for you or a friend. You can buy it here.

Rams using Tua Tagovailoa film from Alabama to prepare for Week 8

Tua Tagovailoa

Here’s another example of the changes to the NFL season leading to some unusual preparation methods.

With the Los Angeles Rams preparing to face Tua Tagovailoa for the first time on Sunday, the defense has been watching tape from Alabama to get ready. Part of the reason for that, as explained by coach Sean McVay, is the lack of preseason film that would normally be used in this spot.

In a certain sense, this is an advantage for Tagovailoa. It’s not as if he’s an unknown quantity, but with two NFL passes under his belt, there’s no indication how he will adapt. Obviously, he’s not going to play in the same offense he did in college, but the Rams must work with what they have.

One thing the Rams will know: Tagovailoa is still getting plenty of help from his experienced teammate.

Ryan Fitzpatrick still helping Tua Tagovailoa despite losing starting job

Ryan Fitzpatrick

There are a number of veteran quarterbacks who aren’t very keen to mentor their younger replacements. Ryan Fitzpatrick is not one of them.

Tua Tagovailoa said Wednesday that Fitzpatrick has continued to actively mentor him and offer feedback, even after the Miami Dolphins rookie landed the team’s starting quarterback job.

This is no surprise. Fitzpatrick knew all along that he was a bridge until Tagovailoa was ready to start, and made clear he was eager to help. But Fitzpatrick didn’t really expect the change to come this soon. That’s especially true since the veteran hasn’t really done anything to play himself out of a job.

Fitzpatrick was open about how hurt he was by the benching. Then he picked himself up and went back to mentoring Tagovailoa. That’s precisely why the Dolphins wanted him around.

Dolphins fans! It’s time to roll in a new era in Miami. This Roll Fins shirt is a perfect gift for you or a friend. You can buy it here.

Nick Saban had great reaction to Tua Tagovailoa being named Dolphins’ starter

Nick Saban

Nick Saban had a great reaction to learning that Tua Tagovailoa had been named the Miami Dolphins’ starting quarterback this week.

Tagovailoa played at Alabama from 2017-2019. He helped the Crimson Tide win the national championship in his freshman season, was a Heisman Trophy finalist in his second, and then suffered a season-ending hip injury last year. The injury was believed to have affected Tagovailoa’s draft status, though the Miami Dolphins still took him No. 5 overall.

After six weeks of the current season, the Dolphins named Tua their starter. Saban was happy for his former QB.

“We’re always excited and happy for all of our players. They all have dreams of playing in the NFL some day. You’re really always happy and proud to see that come to fruition for them. Most guys don’t have to go through what Tua went through in terms of the adversity he had to overcome from the injury standpoint with the hip injury. But he worked hard, he’s back to 100 percent. I’m glad to see he’s getting some opportunity to play now. And I hope that that continues, and I hope he does very well,” Saban said.

Saban then praised Tagovailoa for being such a good representative of Alabama.

“We haven’t had anybody in this program since I’ve been here that’s been a better ambassador for the university, a better ambassador for the program, than Tua has been. Our thoughts and prayers are always with him, and we hope that he does extremely well. And it truly won’t surprise me if that’s the case.”

Tagovailoa saw his first NFL action at the end of the Dolphins’ Week 6 shutout win over the New York Jets. He tried his best to share the moment with his family, who could not be in attendance for the game. Now, the job is his, and there will be a whole bunch of Alabama fans supporting him.

Dolphins fans! It’s time to roll in a new era in Miami. This Roll Fins shirt is a perfect gift for you or a friend. You can buy it here.

Dolphins coach unhappy with way Tua Tagovailoa news leaked

Tua Tagovailoa

Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores confirmed on Wednesday that Tua Tagovailoa is taking over as the team’s starting quarterback, but Flores is not pleased about the way that information got out.

With the Dolphins having a bye this week, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Tuesday that they will hand over the starting QB job to Tagovailoa in Week 8. Apparently that report came out before Flores had a chance to inform his players of the decision. The coach said he plans to apologize to the team that it somehow leaked.

If Flores hadn’t even told his players about switching from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Tagovailoa, it would stand to reason that not many people knew. Someone within the organization must have leaked the information to Schefter, which would obviously be enough to irritate the head coach.

In any event, Flores praised Tagovailoa for the strides he has made in practice that led to the switch. Flores also couldn’t say enough positive things about Fitzpatrick.

The Dolphins may have been planning all along to make Tagovailoa the starter following their bye week. While he only played for a brief time in Sunday’s blowout win over the New York Jets, the former Alabama star showed how much the moment meant to him with his actions after the game.

Fitzpatrick has been a steadying presence for Miami dating back to last season. He has the team 3-3 this year and squarely in the playoff hunt, which is why the switch to Tagovailoa is surprising to some. The Dolphins likely feel Tagovailoa offers a higher ceiling.

Dolphins fans! It’s time to roll in a new era in Miami. This Roll Fins shirt is a perfect gift for you or a friend. You can buy it here.

Tua Tagovailoa to be named Dolphins starting QB

Tua Tagovailoa

The Miami Dolphins gave Tua Tagovailoa his first NFL action when they had their game against the New York Jets well in-hand on Sunday, and the rookie quarterback is keeping the job.

Tagovailoa will start for the Dolphins over veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick when the team comes out of its bye in Week 8, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Fitzpatrick has led Miami to a 3-3 record and has them squarely in contention in the AFC East. He did throw two interceptions in Sunday’s 24-0 win over the Jets and has seven on the season, but he has carried his steady play from 2019 into this year. That is why many are surprised the Jets are going with Tagovailoa.

The timing is likely not a coincidence. This may have been the Dolphins’ plan all along, as Tagovailoa will now have the bye week to get up to speed before taking over. Many expected Tagovailoa to take a redshirt year as a rookie to recover from the hip injury he suffered at Alabama, but he has had nothing but positive news about his health since.

Tagovailoa attempted two passes and completed both for nine yards on Sunday. He showed how much the moment meant to him with his actions after the game. Dolphins head coach Brian Flores must be confident with what he has seen from the former Alabama star in practice.

Dolphins fans! It’s time to roll in a new era in Miami. This Roll Fins shirt is a perfect gift for you or a friend. You can buy it here.