On September 7th, 2020 the Miami Dolphins made the single greatest decision for their franchise and for Tua Tagovailoa’s career. They named journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick the starter before their season opener versus the New England Patriots. On October 20th, 2020, the Miami Dolphins made the second greatest decision for their franchise and for Tua Tagovailoa’s career, by naming Tua the starter for the remainder of the 2020 NFL season.
It’s very simple. The Dolphins were not a good team last year. Their offensive line gave up the most sacks and QB hits in the NFL in 2019. Their defense gave up the third most yards and the most points per game. The running game was nonexistent.
The Dolphins made moves to improve their offensive line. They added two free agents, and three rookies. They have a longtime starter Jessie Davis who can play multiple positions. So far in 2020, they have allowed 8 sacks, tied for 10th fewest. They gave up 58 sacks in 2019. They’re on pace to reach not even half of that number. This gives the Dolphins six guys that they have confidence in to protect their franchise quarterback. They didn’t know this in Week 1 of the 2020 season.
The defense, most specifically the secondary, has improved as well. Cornerback Xavien Howard has been excellent. The last two games quarterbacks have gone 0-8 when targeting him. He also has two interceptions and two pass breakups on those eight targets. On the season, opposing quarterbacks are completing just 46.2 percent of their passes when going at Howard with a passer rating of 49.0. Opposing quarterbacks average 4.87 yards per pass when targeting safety Eric Rowe this season. The Dolphins other safety, Bobby McCain has allowed a 0.0 passer rating when quarterbacks throw at him. Big free agent signing Byron Jones has finally gotten healthy.
The front seven of the defense could use a superstar. That is where the 2021 NFL Draft comes in, where the Dolphins own the Houston Texans first round pick. The Texans are currently 1-5. With the Dolphins standing at 3-3, you can expect Miami to have a top 20 draft pick as well as wherever the Texans end up.
The Miami Dolphins Are The 2021 AFC East Champions
The Dolphins could’ve thrown Tua to the wolves. Start him week one without ensuring that the team would provide him support. They did it to Josh Rosen, as did the Arizona Cardinals. The Texans did it to David Carr. The Browns did it to every quarterback they’ve ever had.
Instead, the Dolphins have taken the approach that the Giants did with Eli Manning. The Giants were 5-4 with Kurt Warner at QB. They put in Eli Manning to finish the season and he went 1-6. The next year, the Giants were 11-5.
The Dolphins waited for signs of stability from the roster. Chemistry will grow between Tua and wide receivers Davante Parker and Preston Williams, and tight end Mike Gesicki. They found a running back that they like in Myles Gaskin. The offensive line is a strength now. The defense is getting better every week.
The Miami Dolphins don’t care about making the playoffs as the seventh seed in 2020. Ryan Fitzpatrick did his job. He was the puzzle piece that fit just right enough that the entire puzzle stayed together, but he wasn’t the perfect fit. Fitzpatrick has been moved to his ideal spot in the puzzle, and the perfect piece, Tua Tagovailoa, will glue the entire project together.