Dolphins have a fun list, but Tua Tagovailoa’s concerns loom

Dolphins have a fun list, but Tua Tagovailoa’s concerns loom
(Graphics from Yahoo Sports by Hannah Lucca)

(Graphics from Yahoo Sports by Hannah Lucca)

Coming off the field after a Week 2 victory last season, Tua Tagovailoa had to feel great.

He led the Miami Dolphins to a comeback win over the Baltimore Ravens after his team trailed by 21 points. He threw for 469 yards and six touchdowns. The previous years were not easy. He suffered a devastating hip injury that ended his collegiate career at Alabama. He had ups and downs in his first two seasons. It wasn’t fair to decide what Tagovailoa was as a quarterback after 21 games, but last offseason the names most associated with Tagovailoa were Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert, the other two best halfbacks in his recruiting class who were instant stars. Tagovailoa was right behind them. He was dismissed by many.

That day in Baltimore, Tagovailoa seemed to arrive like a star. He was only 24 years old, with his entire career ahead of him. The hip injury and the criticism didn’t matter anymore.

“I think it was a moment he will never forget and he can use it to move forward,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said after the game on the Associated Press. “I couldn’t be happier for him. His teammates learned a lot about him and I think he learned something about himself.”

In three games, Tagovailoa was brilliant. The Dolphins, who had moments of regret over passing Herbert in the draft, were 3-0. Then came the first concussion.

Maybe it was the second concussion. In Week 3 Tagovailoa tripped and almost fainted after a stroke, although he was not officially diagnosed with a concussion. There was no doubt about Cincinnati’s.

Tagovailoa was rotated and hit the lawn, and a national audience saw their hands go into the fencing response. It was scary. He was rescued and taken to the hospital. Tagovailoa returned after two games out and played well, but then suffered another concussion, presumably on a hit late in the second quarter, against the Green Bay Packers on December 25. It went undetected and Tagovailoa ended the game. That was it for his season.

It’s impossible to talk about the Dolphins’ season, or the ones to come, without worrying about Tagovailoa’s future. Tagovailoa had just finished a truly standout third season, and as he turned 25, he considered retirement.

“I’ve considered it for a while, having sat down with my family, having sat down with my wife and having those kinds of conversations, but it’s going to be hard for me to leave this game at the age I am,” Tagovailoa said this offseason, via CNN.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had a great 2022 season that was overshadowed by concussions.  (John McCall/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had a great 2022 season that was overshadowed by concussions. (John McCall/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Tagovailoa said he trained in jiu-jitsu in the offseason to learn how to land in a way that could avoid hitting his head, and I hope that helps. But everyone who understands football knows that you can’t eliminate the risk of concussions, especially for the quarterback.

The Dolphins must also be worried about Tagovailoa, but also their football team. A decision on a long-term extension for Tagovailoa is approaching. He looked like a franchise quarterback when he played last season. The team went 8-3 in the games they played and did not suffer any concussions. McDaniel was a perfect fit, as was new receiver Tyreek Hill. The future is bright and could be utterly brought down with any swipe by Tagovailoa.

This should be a fun time for the Dolphins. If healthy, they are Super Bowl contenders with an exciting offense led by a highly touted quarterback coming off a great season. The new coaching staff was an immediate success. It’s been a while since Dolphins fans haven’t felt this good, especially about their quarterback.

I hope the story of Tagovailoa’s concussion doesn’t come up again.

off season note

For the second straight offseason, the Dolphins made a big trade to acquire a superstar. Unlike the bold move to get Hill last offseason, the Dolphins didn’t have to spend as much capital in the draft to get cornerback Jalen Ramsey from the Los Angeles Rams. The Dolphins have given up a third-round pick and stolen one to tight end Hunter Long to a corner six times in the Pro Bowl. That was the big move and free agency was silent. A two-year, $11 million contract with linebacker David Long was his biggest move. A two-year, $8 million contract with backup quarterback Mike White was necessary due to Tagovailoa’s health issues. The Hill and Ramsey trades left the draft class weak. Cornerback Cam Smith was the team’s second round pick and running back De’Von Achane was a third round pick. Getting Ramsey for a good price is what we’ll remember from the Dolphins offseason.

note: A-

quarterback report

It’s a shame Tagovailoa didn’t play 17 games because his breakout would be even more appreciated. He might even be in the MVP discussion. Tagovailoa led the NFL with a passer rating of 105.5 and 8.9 yards per attempt. He had 3,548 yards, 25 touchdowns and eight touchdowns in 13 games. He missed most of one game and probably played concussed throughout the second half of the other. Even if we add just four games at those rates, he would have over 4,600 yards with around 33 touchdowns. It was an excellent season.

BetMGM odds analysis

I like the Dolphins list. They were pretty good last season with Tagovailoa and at least competitive without him. But we all know that it is difficult to bet on 17 games for Tagovailoa. The total wins for the Dolphins on BetMGM is 9.5. Given the Tagovailoa concern and a tough schedule in a deep AFC East, I have to take the under.

Yahoo fancy outlet

From Yahoo’s Scott Pianowski: “There’s risk and reward for almost any fantasy selection, but it’s starting at the bottom if you select Tua Tagovailoa. He’s lost multiple games in four straight seasons since his time at Alabama, and last year’s concussion problems were daunting. So despite the presence of two wildly talented wideouts and a respected play-call, fantasy managers need a contingent plan if they select Tagovailoa as their de facto starter. their league to target a top reserve.”

statistics to remember

Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle were great last season. They finished with a combined 3,066 yards, third most by a pair of teammates in NFL history. according to statistics and information from ESPN. The Dolphins decided that getting the ball to Hill and Waddle almost every time they passed was the right play; Hill had 170 targets, Waddle had 117, and no one else on the Dolphins had more than 52. Hill set Dolphins records with 119 receptions and 1,710 yards, Waddle led the NFL with 18.9 yards per reception. They came up with those numbers despite Tagovailoa losing time.

Hill said on his podcast he wants 2000 yards and another Super Bowl this station. Considering how the Dolphins want to get the ball to Hill as much as possible, he might hit the 2,000-yard goal. A Super Bowl title isn’t out of the question either.

burning question

How big of an impact will Vic Fangio make?

Fangio had mixed results when he finally got the chance to head coach the Denver Broncos. But his defensive mind was never questioned. Fangio is considered one of the best coordinators in the NFL, and hiring him was a huge move for the Dolphins. He won’t do a lot of blitzing, but he has a sound scheme that will confuse quarterbacks with different coverages. The one area where a mediocre Dolphins defense can improve a lot is completions. They had just 14 last season, tied for 30th in the NFL. It’s amazing that a playoff team can force so few turnovers. There’s a lot of talent on defense, especially after adding Ramsey. When Fangio was introduced to the media, he singled out pass rushers Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb, defensive tackle Christian Wilkins and safety Jevon Holland (who will be a big part of the scheme). Fangio should lead a big improvement.

best case scenario

It’s easy to get excited about the Dolphins. The offense looked unstoppable when Tagovailoa was healthy last season. The defense has added a proven asset as a coordinator and arguably the best cornerback in football, so this side must be better. The Dolphins were an excellent team when Tagovailoa was healthy, and everyone in the NFL expects him to play in all 17 games this season. If you do, it’s not too difficult to buy the Dolphins a top five on offense and defense. This team can win a Super Bowl.

nightmare scenario

Of course, we know this revolves around Tagovailoa’s health and we’ve discussed this at length. Other than that, there aren’t many big issues. Perhaps the NFL will make adjustments to McDaniel’s offense as a sophomore, but it’s hard to see McDaniel being discovered. Maybe the defense is just mediocre like it was last season. And the AFC East is so tough that the Dolphins can finish in last place even with a good record. Given how good the list looks, this would be a huge disappointment.

The crystal ball says…

The Dolphins are a tough team to predict because we don’t know if Tagovailoa will remain healthy. The Dolphins could win a Super Bowl or have a terrible season and look for new quarterback options next offseason. Everything depends on a variable that cannot be predicted. If Tagovailoa plays most of the season, the Dolphins will be in the playoffs. There’s a lot to like about them on both sides of the ball. Let’s leave it at that: It would be excellent, in every way, to see what the Dolphins are like with a full Tagovailoa season.

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