Sports

Five Times the Miami Dolphins Set Up Tua Tagovailoa for Failure

The Miami Dolphins have hindered Tua Tagovailoa's chances of success.
The Miami Dolphins have hindered Tua Tagovailoa's chances of success. Photo by Mark Brown/Getty
For two years, "Tank for Tua" was the mountaintop, and being in a position to select the superstar quarterback from Alabama in the 2020 NFL draft was more important than any win.

Then the Miami Dolphins became the lucky winners of the Tua Tagovailoa sweepstakes. Fortunate enough to have Tagovailoa drop into its lap at the fifth-overall selection owing to a serious injury he sustained.

Fans rejoiced, and the Dolphins' front office gushed about its good fortune. It seemed as if the Dolphins had finally caught a break after years of looking for a star under center.

Then Tagovailoa arrived in Miami, and the Dolphins have done everything possible to ensure that their star quarterback fails, by repeatedly undermining his confidence.


How did we get here? What have the Dolphins done so wrong? Let's take a look back at five times the Miami Dolphins have tried to add Tua Tagovailoa to its long list of franchise failures.

He Replaced Ryan Fitzpatrick at the Weirdest Possible Time

Miami did what most teams do when they draft a young quarterback: They sit him on the bench and tell him to watch and learn for a few weeks. That's normal. What isn't normal is deciding the best time for him to replace the veteran ahead of him is when the team is on a two-game winning streak and one game out of first place in the division.

Did Dolphins fans want to see Tua Tagovailoa finally play? Absolutely. Did the timing happen at the worst possible moment for Tua? Absolutely.

Suddenly rumors started that Ryan Fitzpatrick should stay under center. Only the Miami Dolphins would create negative vibes out of thin air surrounding the most anticipated debut of a player in two decades.

The Dolphins Bench Him at the First Sign of Adversity

Even after being inserted at the worst possible time, Tua Tagovailoa shined. He started his career 3-0 heading into a matchup against the Denver Broncos. Everyone agreed he'd looked great up to that point, throwing five touchdowns and zero interceptions in that span.

Then the Denver game went a little bit sideways. The rookie quarterback struggled for the first time, but the game was far from out of reach. Even in his struggles, he completed 11 of 20 pass attempts with one touchdown and no interceptions.


But instead of letting Tagovailoa find his way, struggle, learn, and come out on the other side better for it, the Dolphins benched him, went back to Fitzpatrick, and created more drama. The yo-yo would continue, as Tua was pulled in subsequent games in similar fashion.

It's not the best way to instill confidence in a rookie quarterback coming off an extremely serious injury, amid a season transpiring during a pandemic.

The Dolphins' 2021 NFL Draft Picks

The narrative has been that the Miami Dolphins have gone so far and above trying to help the rookie quarterback that they went out and picked Tagovailoa's former Alabama teammate, Jaylen Waddle, in the first round of this past NFL draft. The reality is that the Dolphins passed on better players, traded down to acquire future picks, and picked two defensive players with their next two selections before selecting Liam Eichenberg, one of the worst football players in the NFL this year, to block for Tagovailoa.

It didn't help anyone — but especially not Tua Tagovailoa — when the Dolphins picked his friend who isn't as good at football as the players the team passed on, then took defensive players to add to a defense that was already elite. Maybe pick a running back or a lineman that isn't the worst at his job next time? Just a suggestion.

The Deshaun Watson Pursuit

The Miami Dolphins' attempt to trade for DeShaun Watson amid his self-sidelining as he deals with 22 civil suits alleging sexual misconduct would be bad enough in a vacuum. But to pursue the Texans quarterback so publicly has damaged Tagovailoa's confidence for good.


Who would blame Tagovailoa if he demanded a trade or, down the road, never signed a contract with the Dolphins?

The Dolphins have shown their true colors here. The team is rumored to have nudged Watson to settle the 22 civil lawsuits as a precursor to a trade. The Dolphins front office has shown itself to be not only flat-out despicable in its interest of this player but completely clueless as to what support a young quarterback needs in order to succeed.

Shame on the Dolphins for this. Mostly for the nonchalance toward the seriousness of the allegations against Watson, but also for the neglect toward their current quarterback and team.

Middle Fingergate

Tua Tagovailoa might have a banged-up middle finger but it seems that he has wanted to play and looked perfectly able to play.

Instead of giving its franchise quarterback the chance to go out on the field and prove he could tough out an injured finger, the Dolphins benched him and started Jacoby Brissett against Baltimore. Then Brissett was injured and Tagovailoa had to enter the game. And you know what? He led the team to a win.

The move to seemingly bench Tagovailoa because he was one middle finger shy of operating at 100 percent was baffling to outsiders, fans, and pretty much anyone who was paying attention. And it was only the latest chapter in the Dolphins doing their best to do the worst by Tua Tagovailoa. 
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Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.
Contact: Ryan Yousefi