The decision to start the fifth pick of the draft probably got more scrutiny than it deserved.
When Brian Flores announced earlier this season that the Miami Dolphins were switching quarterbacks from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Tua Tagovailoa, it was far from an easily accepted decision. People wondered how the Dolphins could bench Fitzpatrick, especially with the Dolphins on a two-game winning streak and holding a 3-3 record.
It has turned out pretty well. The Dolphins have gone 5-2 in Tagovailoa’s starts and are in the seventh and final AFC playoff spot as they prepare to face the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday, a game that can be live-streamed on the Yahoo Sports app.
Tagovailoa hasn’t been perfect, but he has shown why the Dolphins had faith in him taking the reins at quarterback.
Tua Tagovailoa has played well
The Dolphins’ decision to go to Tagovailoa was questioned in part because the legend of Fitzpatrick has grown. He’s a fun player to root for. He can get hot for stretches. But he’s still a limited 38-year-old journeyman. The uproar over benching him was a bit strange.
Still, Flores would have heard about it had the Dolphins fallen out of the playoff picture with a rookie quarterback making mistakes, no matter how talented he is. Tagovailoa has made Flores look smart.
Tagovailoa has completed 63.8 percent of his passes, with nine touchdowns and two interceptions. He has a respectable 92.5 passer rating. He has also rushed for three touchdowns. He hasn’t put up huge numbers, but that’s due in part to all of the skill-position injuries around him. Given all of the circumstances, Tagovailoa is having a nice rookie season.
Joe Burrow, before his injury, and Justin Herbert have put up better numbers as rookies. But Tagovailoa is the one who has a chance to play in the postseason.
Dolphins in line for a playoff spot
The Dolphins are in a tough fight for a wild-card spot. One good AFC team won’t make it.
The Dolphins have a few paths to making the playoffs, but the best way is to win their final two games. The Dolphins are in with two more wins, no matter what happens with any other contender. The Raiders are technically alive but barely. Their second-half swoon has cost them a potential playoff spot. It also makes the Dolphins’ task on Saturday a little easier.
There are still questions about Tagovailoa. Herbert has played so well that the Dolphins will always have to wonder if they should have picked him instead of Tagovailoa with the fifth pick. Tagovailoa has been good, but there’s not enough of a track record to know if he is the quarterback Miami has been searching for since Dan Marino retired.
Tagovailoa has a chance to make his rookie season a successful one with a strong finish and a playoff berth. No matter how it turns out, it’s fair to say Flores made the right move in turning to his talented rookie.
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