Time To Find Out About Tua

Alain Poupart

If it seems like pretty much everybody has an opinion on the Miami Dolphins' decision to move Tua Tagovailoa as the starting quarterback, well, that's because it's a fact.

Among the many who have chimed in is Dolphins Hall of Famer Larry Csonka, all the way from Alaska.

His Instagram post included a part that might not make Tua train passengers very happy because he brings up the scenario of Tagovailoa not delivering as expected.

"If Tua is the future QB for the Dolphins, this is the time to find out," Csonka wrote. "We watched him take the field for the final minutes of the Jets game. Next Sunday we’ll see how he commands the field and leads his teammates against the Rams at home in Hard Rock.

"If he plays well this season, I suspect the Dolphins will continue building around him. If he doesn’t play well or suffers re-injury, the Dolphins future draft strategy becomes obvious. In my opinion, now’s the time to find out if this star’s going to shine!"

The injury issue always will be there with Tagovailoa, even if all indications and all comments from the Dolphins suggest he's fully recovered from the nasty hip injury that cut short his brilliant career at the University of Alabama.

But Csonka even suggesting that the Dolphins would need to reconsider their draft strategy if Tua "doesn't play well" likely will make some fans unhappy because many of them, as well as some media members, seem to believe that Tua is a slam-dunk future star.

But is he?

It's not like he would be the first quarterback to be an absolute star in college but unable to have much success in the NFL.

And the Dolphins have seen that first-hand with three different quarterbacks and it just so happened that all three, like Tua, were lefties.

Those three were Cade McNown, Josh Heupel and Pat White and before you poo-poo them as prospects, just remember that Heupel was a runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 2000, McNown was third in the voting in 1998, and White twice finished in the top 10 in the voting.

Tagovailoa was second in the 2018 Heisman voting behind Arizona Cardinals starter Kyler Murray and he was 10th last year being his season being cut short after nine games.

Now, we're not suggesting that Tua is headed for the same fate, but rather pointing out that there is a degree of uncertainty there.

And, as Csonka rightly pointed out, the Dolphins need to find out rather than later whether he's going to be the guy for the long term.

And that has to do with the 2021 NFL draft and the increasing possibility that the Dolphins will end up with a very high pick in the first round, courtesy of the Houston Texans in the aftermath of the Laremy Tunsil trade.

As it stands right now, the Dolphins would have the fifth and 14th overall selections in 2021 by virtue of Houston's 1-6 record.

The Dolphins certainly would like to know before then whether they need to go looking for another franchise quarterback, and they only could make that determination with a full evaluation in game action.

So there's obviously some merit to the idea that the 2021 draft factored into the decision to switch to Tagovailoa at the bye despite the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick was playing well and the Dolphins were in a position to make a playoff run with him at quarterback.

Of course, the most ideal scenario for the Dolphins would be for Tagovailoa to leave no doubt this season that he's the guy to lead the offense for years to come.

That doesn't even mean that he needs to put up huge numbers as a rookie or that he has to lead the playoffs right away, but it does mean he has to prove his skill set will lead to success in the NFL.

That, more than anything, might be what the 2020 season is about for the Miami Dolphins.

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