Ready or Not, Tua Time Is Here!

Miami Dolphins fans won't have to wait any longer as Tua Tagovailoa makes his long-awaited NFL starting debut
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The big day finally has arrived!

The date is Nov. 1, 2020, and sometime after 1 p.m. Eastern time, Tua Tagovailoa will take a snap and his first NFL start officially will be in the books.

To say it's a day Miami Dolphins have been eagerly anticipating doesn't come close to doing it justice.

It's more accurate to say it's the most eagerly anticipated Dolphins moment since at the very least Dan Marino's first start way back in October 1983.

And even then there wasn't as much noise and fanfare about Marino's starting debut because social media wasn't around back then. 

And we could even argue Tua's first start is a bigger deal than Marino's was because, remember, Marino lasted until the 27th pick in the 1983 NFL draft because of a sub-par senior season at the University of Pittsburgh, whereas Tagovailoa's production never dipped at Alabama

It's a moment unlike any other in South Florida with the exception of LeBron James' declaration in the summer of 2010 that he was "taking his talents to South Beach."

While he's not quite on LeBron's level, Tagovailoa has the kind of star power — thanks to his college accomlishments and his charismatic personality — the Dolphins haven't seen in decades.

Yes, Jason Taylor had star power, but there also so much he could do to carry a franchise as a defensive end and sometimes linebacker. Same with Zach Thomas, who in addition to playing defense never really sought the spotlight.

Tagovailoa has the Dolphins fan base in a frenzy, and that's before he's even started a game.

Imagine what will happen if he lights it up in his starting debut against the Rams on Sunday?

Logic says, though, that fans should temper their expectations for Tua at the start of his career because quarterbacks shining from day one are few and far between.

Even the great Marino threw two interceptions in his first career start, though he also did have 322 passing yards and three touchdowns.

As was the case with Marino, not everybody is sold on Tagovailoa as a can't-miss prospect, even though he clearly has more supporters who believe he'll believe to do in the NFL some of the things he did during his abbreviated but statistically superb career at the University of Alabama.

So what's realistic to expect from Tagovailoa early on?

Using the betting props on the Rams game as a gauge, it seems a solid, if not spectacular performance is a reasonable goal.

The reality is we just don't know how good Tagovailoa will become or how quickly he'll get there.

We've heard and read countless glowing statements from teammates over the past week about his work ethic, leadership and performance in practice, but take those for what they're worth. Let's be realistic, who would expect his teammates to say anything else about the guy who's about to be handed the keys to the franchise?

Same goes for his coaches.

Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey was asked point blank how well he thought Tagovailoa would do in his first NFL start and his choice basically was to avoid the question and say he'd have to see or answer in the positive. He chose the latter, but then added a qualifier that got downplayed or left out.

“I think he’ll play great," Gailey said. "That’s what you anticipate. You anticipate him going out there and seeing the defense, and knowing where to throw the football and making good throws and making good decisions in the run game, as far as getting us where we’re supposed to get blocking-wise. I expect him to play excellent, but that’s the way I feel about every week going into every game. You think you’re going to play great. You’re disappointed when you don’t score every time.”

Tagovailoa very well might be great right from the start for the Dolphins, and that obviously would be the best-case scenario for the organization both in 2020 and beyond.

But the Dolphins and their fans also need to understand that Tua is still a rookie about to make his first NFL start, and there are no guarantees.

What's guaranteed is that his start will be scrutinized and analyzed to a degree not often seen.

The future of the franchise is now.

It's been almost two full weeks since we've learned that Tagovailoa was taking over for Ryan Fitzpatrick as the Dolphins quarterback, and the build-up has resembled something you see at the Super Bowl every year.

But now the wait is over. Tua time has arrived.