By Carl Mahler and Kayla Morton
The Miami Dolphins recently trimmed their quarterback room from four down to two active QBs in time for the 53-man roster deadline last Saturday.
In doing so, Miami cut QB Josh Rosen who was in his second year with the team on a four-year contract.
The Dolphins thought it was more important to add a depth spot than carry a heavy-cap hitting No. 3 QB, confirming what many already thought would happen.
The Dolphins made No. 5 overall 2020 draft pick Tua Tagovailoa their No. 2 QB with the intention to hand him the franchise in 2021.
Tagovailoa’s Preseason Progress Noticed
Head coach Brian Flores said Tagovailoa’s progress through training camp and team practices mirrored those of any NFL rookie.
He had some good and bad moments, nothing uncommon, and Miami planted him in the middle of a plethora of reps.
Tagovailoa was reported to not throw as much against the defense as one would expect, throwing just a few routes in the direction of his cornerbacks and linebackers.
Tagovailoa Working More with RBs than WRs?
However, with the new additions of veteran running backs Jordan Howard and Matt Breida, the Dolphins have been wanting the offense to transition to a run game — something Miami hasn’t successfully had in years.
Transitioning to Throwing Drills
As practices have progressed Tagovailoa has transitioned into more throwing drills and grown his patience on his throws.
This has resulted in better accuracy and play-making decisions to help extend practice drives and results on the field.
In just a short amount of time, Tagovailoa is easing into first-team work that he could find himself in at the drop of a hat if something were to happen to starter Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Tagovailoa Moving Into First-Teams Reps Mirrors Rosen’s Usage
We saw Rosen come in for Fitzpatrick for strings of plays in 2019 when the Dolphins were trying to answer their QB carousel and even take over as the starter for a few weeks.
While Miami likely isn’t trying to determine who should start for the Dolphins, especially behind four new faces on the offensive line, it clearly is comfortable activating just Fitzpatrick and Tagovailoa, speaking volumes about Tagovailoa’s preseason.
ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe Confirms Aggression, Arm Improvements
ESPN’s Dolphins beat writer Cameron Wolfe also reported Tagovailoa’s aggressiveness this preseason. He said he has shown a little more of an aggressive side with some effectiveness and better fluid motion.
Additionally, Wolfe said his arm strength has increased, along with reading the defense better. He fires the ball toward the sideline more now and throws in the middle of the field with more accuracy.
Tagovailoa Bringing Alabama Skills to NFL
Even with the occasional rookie mistake, Tagovailoa is starting to show glimpses of the player he was at the University of Alabama on the NFL level.
The only thing keeping expectations tampered has to be if he can then carry it over to a true NFL game.
A Tagovailoa Takeover Sooner Than Later?
Until more 11-vs-11 drills can be examined to show clear differences between Fitzpatrick and Tagovailoa, Fitzpatrick starting makes sense.
However, most NFL teams are carrying three active QBs and Miami has just two. Now, QB Jake Rudock is once again on the Dolphins’ practice squad and protected from being claimed by any other team per the NFL’s new rule, but it’s apparent that Miami is all in on the rookie.
It’s unlikely we’ll see Tagovailoa at any point early in the season unless Fitzpatrick is injured. The Dolphins signed the 16-year-veteran for two years for a reason.
It’s more likely that Tagovailoa taking over at any point in the season only comes if the Dolphins find themselves out of the now-expanded playoff picture. If the team is succeeding under Fitzpatrick, Miami will not have any good reason to make the change.