The Miami Dolphins have committed to Tua Tagovailoa as their starting quarterback in 2021, but not everyone on the team is happy about it.
Miami Herald columnist Armando Salguero spoke to three Dolphins players who spoke anonymously about Tagovailoa and the organization’s decision to name him the starter for 2021, and they expressed doubt about Tagovailoa’s overall talent and his ability to develop into what the team needs him to be: a top-tier quarterback.
Concerns started during training camp
According to Salguero, the three players he spoke with — who remained anonymous because they said Dolphins coaches “demand” they never reveal any concerns to the media — agree that Tagovailoa is a great teammate, but that doesn’t automatically translate to on-field talent, and what they saw this season has them worried that he doesn’t have what it takes to elevate his game.
It started during training camp, when the three players were so “unimpressed” by Tagovailoa that “they thought he wouldn’t be ready to play in 2020.” Tagovailoa came into training camp eight months after hip surgery. He was cleared for full, unrestricted practice in late July, five to six weeks before the start of the season, and wasn’t named the starter in Week 1. It’s not known if their opinion of Tagovailoa improved over the first half of the season.
The three players were caught “totally off guard” when quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was benched before Week 8 and Tagovailoa was named the starter for the remainder of the season. Several told Salguero that they were frustrated when they were told Fitzpatrick wasn’t available for their vital Week 17 game against the Buffalo Bills. A win would’ve gotten the Dolphins into the playoffs, and at least one player thought Fitzpatrick should have started that game (a 56-26 loss) instead of Tagovailoa.
“We always think next man up no matter what,” the player said. “But I saw Tua as the next man up because Fitz was better.”
Doubts about Tua’s future
The 2020 season was Tagovailoa’s first as a pro, and he has a grand total of nine starts under his belt. His future is completely unwritten. But one player told Salguero that he’s not sure Tagovailoa has the ability to improve to the level he needs to be at to make the Dolphins a playoff team. From the Herald:
“... the players also say they don’t see a special trait in Tagovailoa’s skill set beyond his accuracy.
One defensive player said he isn’t impressed with Tagovailoa’s ball velocity or arm strength or ability to make off-schedule plays with his legs. So he ultimately questions whether Tagovailoa will ever be able to match the feats of other quarterbacks in the AFC such as Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson.
“Those are the boys we got to beat, right?” this player said. “It looks right now like that’s going to be a big challenge.”
Salguero’s story quotes only three players, and said that it’s not known if other teammates feel the same way. And it’s possible that Tagovailoa could make great strides in 2021 and prove these players wrong. Until he does, questions about his future and overall ability won’t go away.
More from Yahoo Sports: