- Dolphins name Tua Tagovailoa starting quarterback
- Tua debuted in relief of Ryan Fitzpatrick in Sunday’s win over the Jets
- Dolphins have the third-best odds (+700) to win AFC East
On Sunday, rookie Tua Tagovailoa made his NFL debut for the Miami Dolphins. Tagovailoa replaced starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick late in the Dolphins’ 24-0 win over the hapless New York Jets, but most believed Tua’s appearance came in mop-up duty with the game well out of reach.
However, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Tuesday that the move is actually permanent. The Dolphins are set to announce that Tagovailoa will replace Fitzpatrick as the team’s starter on a full-time basis. Miami has a bye in Week 7, which means the Alabama product is set to make his first NFL start on November 1 against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 8.
This just in: pic.twitter.com/byikxkJW68
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 20, 2020
Tagovailoa completed both of his passes in relief of Fitzpatrick on Sunday for a total of nine yards. While he was one of the most highly-coveted quarterback prospects in this year’s draft class, many believed Tagovailoa would have to wait even longer before earning Miami’s starting job.
Could Fitzpatrick Be Traded?
The Dolphins have gotten off to a solid 3-3 start with Fitzpatrick under center, and Miami has surprisingly emerged as one of the better offensive teams in football. The Dolphins rank 13th in pass DVOA so far in 2020, thanks in large part to the exploits of Fitzpatrick. The 37-year-old veteran has completed 70.1 percent of his throws for 1,535 yards with 10 touchdowns to seven interceptions.
Fitzpatrick has played for a number of teams in his career, and his impressive season has surely gotten the attention of other teams around the league. Now that Tagovailoa is starting, one would imagine the Dolphins could be interested in trading Fitzpatrick if a contender comes calling. Teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, and San Francisco 49ers are among those that would seem to be logical potential buyers.
Herbert, Burrow Posting Impressive Rookie Seasons
Miami is currently second in the AFC East, a half-game ahead of the New England Patriots and one game behind the Buffalo Bills. Tagovailoa was taken by the Dolphins with the fifth overall pick in April’s draft. He was the second QB off the board behind Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow, and he was nabbed one spot before the Chargers took Oregon’s Justin Herbert at No. 6.
Burrow and Herbert have both enjoyed quite a bit of success as rookies, which may have played a role in Miami’s desire to get Tua onto the field as quickly as possible.
The Bengals are just 1-4-1 with Burrow leading the way, but the former Heisman winner has completed 65 percent of his passes for 1,617 yards with six touchdowns to four interceptions. Burrow has also added a pair of rushing touchdowns on the year.
Herbert was unexpectedly pressed into duty back in Week 2 when the Chargers’ starter, Tyrod Taylor, was injured during a pregame medical mishap. Los Angeles has lost all four games with Herbert as the starter, but he can’t really be blamed for their shortcomings. Herbert has completed 68.8 percent of his throws for 1,195 yards with nine touchdown to three interceptions. The 22-year-old has impressively held his own in going toe-to-toe with the likes of Tom Brady and Drew Brees in recent weeks.
Dolphins Remain Underdogs in AFC East
Tagovailoa injured his hip last November in what was his final game with Alabama. He was ultimately required to undergo season-ending hip surgery, and many wondered whether the hip condition would prove problematic for his pro prospects. The Dolphins were sold enough on his medical records to grab him with the No. 5 pick, though, and the team clearly believes he is healthy enough to be a full-time starter in this league.
Following their Week 8 game at home against the Rams, the Dolphins will head to Arizona for a matchup against Kyler Murray and the Cardinals in Week 9. Miami’s schedule after that features games against the Broncos, Jets, Chiefs, Patriots, Raiders, and Bills. Tua and the Dolphins will also face Herbert and the Chargers in Week 10, while they will clash with Burrow and the Bengals in Week 13.
The Dolphins are listed at +700 to win the AFC East this season, which puts them behind the Bills (-200) and Patriots (+225). Tagovailoa is also facing long odds to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, especially considering the other candidates will have had a half-season’s head start on him for the award. Burrow (+150) is the favorite, followed closely by Herbert (+250), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (+700), and CeeDee Lamb (+1500). Tua is listed at +8000 to win the award.