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Tua Tagovailoa
Miami Dolphins

Tua Tagovailoa is Out of Excuses

  • Jack McKessy
  • March 24, 2022
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Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is entering the third year of his rookie contract in 2022, a crucial season to evaluate whether he’s the long-term answer under center. With that being the case, a big point of emphasis for the Dolphins this offseason was giving Tagovailoa the best possible environment to succeed in.

We’re now just over a week into the league year and after all the moves Miami has already made, there are no more excuses for Tua.

All of the wheels to set the young quarterback up for success were already in motion as early as last year. The Dolphins needed to add a great pass-catcher in the 2021 NFL Draft – who better to add than Tagovailoa’s former Alabama teammate in Jaylen Waddle? The speedy receiver excelled immediately in Miami, becoming the Dolphins’ lead receiver as he put up a 1,000-yard rookie season and scored six touchdowns.

Right after the Dolphins’ season ended, those wheels kept turning. Miami made the shocking move to cut ties with Head Coach Brian Flores after he led the team to consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 2002-2003. The Dolphins then went on to replace Flores, a defensive-minded head coach, with Mike McDaniel, the 49ers’ offensive coordinator and Kyle Shanahan’s protégé.

With a new head coach and a reunion with Waddle, the final piece of the puzzle was to continue building the offense around Tagovailoa in free agency and this year’s draft. Near the top of the list was bolstering the offensive line, particularly with an upgrade at left tackle, as well as improving the run game and getting more pass-catchers.

Well, the Dolphins hit the ground not running, but sprinting to begin free agency. They kept tight end Mike Gesicki around by placing the franchise tag on him before signing a plethora of free agents. Fullback Alec Ingold, offensive guard Connor Williams, running backs Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert and wide receiver Cedrick Wilson have all joined Miami’s offense in recent weeks.

Those moves, while all big upgrades for the Dolphins’ offense were only predecessors —appetizers, even — for the two biggest moves Miami would end up making (so far).

On Tuesday, the Dolphins locked in their new starting left tackle by signing former Saint Terron Armstead to a five-year, $75 million deal. Armstead was one of the best free agent options on the market at any position. Now, the three-time Pro Bowler will provide a massive upgrade to Miami’s pass protection, which had the lowest pass-block win rate of any team in the NFL in 2021.

Less than 24 hours later, the Dolphins pulled off one of the biggest moves of any team this offseason: a trade with the Chiefs for elite wide receiver Tyreek Hill.

As Tagovailoa enters his third year in the NFL, he’s now surrounded by a much-improved offensive line and an elite group of pass-catchers. Waddle and Hill are an exceptionally speedy duo — perhaps the fastest duo in the NFL — that will each be a nightmare to defend. Gesicki will likely continue to dominate as he comes off a career year and joins up with McDaniel, whose offensive planning allowed tight end George Kittle to thrive in San Francisco.

That’s all without mentioning the major upgrades to the Dolphins’ run game in Mostert and Edmonds, along with the addition of Ingold at fullback. New Miami receiver Cedrick Wilson is a legit threat on the outside, as well.

All of these additions to the Dolphins’ offense mean one thing: Tagovailoa has no more excuses. Since he was drafted in 2020, there has not been a better offensive unit around him in Miami than there is now. If he isn’t able to succeed with one of the best receiver rooms in the NFL, along with major upgrades to his pass protection and the run game, the Dolphins may look to re-evaluate their future under center.

In fact, they already have a decent contingency plan in place. One of their other signings to start free agency was former Broncos starter Teddy Bridgewater, who could step in immediately if things go too far south with Tagovailoa in 2022. Otherwise, the Dolphins still have two first-round picks (theirs and San Francisco’s) in 2023 which could allow them to move on with a quarterback in next year’s draft class, should they so choose.

This upcoming season will be a make-or-break year for Tagovailoa and all of the talent the Dolphins have added around him, there are no excuses left for failure. It’s now up to him to step up.

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Jack McKessy