Loss leave Dolphins fans with many questions

Lisa Johnson
AFC South AFC East Reporter

By Lisa Johnson // @LJ1303

As Miami Dolphins fans watched their playoff hopes get squashed by the surging AFC East Champion Buffalo Bills, not only did the Dolphins miss the playoffs, but they also seem to have opened themselves up for some tough decisions ahead.

Following a 56-26 loss, Dolphins fans were left wondering if Miami’s first-round draft choice, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, is indeed the chosen one. Many fans have already seemed to have thrown in the towel, especially since the Dolphins hold the 3rd and 18th picks in this year’s NFL draft, which is likely to hold 3 quarterbacks that are worthy of a first-round selection.

Following the loss, social media lit up with fans weighing in on the rookie’s performance. He threw three interceptions including one that was returned for a touchdown by Bills cornerback Josh Norman. Tua’s numbers for the game: he went for 35-of-58 passes for a total of  361 yards with one touchdown and ran for 28 yards on six carries. Tagovailoa compiled a 6-3 record as the Dolphin starter. Side note… he was benched in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick during the fourth quarter of the Las Vegas Raiders game but Fitzpatrick was unavailable this week due to Covid-19 protocols.

Following the game Coach Flores was asked about the offense and the play of Tua.

(Obviously, you said – as you said – it was a tough game for all phases, but the offense and QB Tua Tagovailoa didn’t play particularly well. Was there anything that stood out to you today on why it just wasn’t clicking?) – “We didn’t play well in any phase – offense, defense, special teams. It’s a team effort. They talk about the offense, we’ll talk about the defense, we’ll talk about the special teams. I didn’t do a good enough job of getting them ready to go, so we’ll talk about the coaching as well. We win as a team, we lose as a team. Today we didn’t play well enough across the board. We lost.”

(How do you view maybe how the Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey and QB Tua Tagovailoa combo has worked this year and if that’s something you feel comfortable with going forward?) – “I think Tua has made a lot of improvement over the course of the year under Chan’s tutelage. I know – look, we’re all disappointed right now. How we played in all three phases today. I think Tua has made a lot of improvement, really developed over the course of the year, so we’ll just continue to try to make those improvements.”

While Coach Flores will never place blame on one single player, calling Tua out this early in his career seems a bit unfair. It seems to me that he has spent the portion of this season with training wheels on. It just hasn’t felt like offensive coordinator Chan Gaily has let him loose. Plus, he didn’t have “That Game.” You know, the game in which many young rookie quarterbacks seem to take it over and really show some flashes of the “IT” factor. We just never saw this.

I believe that many fans were craving this from him. All the while he was throwing 5-10 yard slants and dink and dunks down the field.  I will also add that he really doesn’t have elite players to throw to. With the exception of tight end Mike Gesicki, who has made tremendous strides this year.

As for the 2021 NFL Draft, the Dolphins hold the picks that can address some areas of need. Is getting Tua Tagovaloa some weapons the answer?  If the Dolphins truly believe he is the one, then we should see several additions to this offense come Draft Day. Or do the Dolphins shock the world and select another Quarterback? It seems right now per Coach Flores’ post-game presser, the Dolphins are going to stick with Tua.  For now…

Follow Lisa on Twitter // @LJ1303

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