Myths, Rumors, and Facts During Tua Tagovailoa’s Path, Part Four

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Myths, rumors, and facts about Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa‘s path in the NFL is a four-part series. This is the conclusion, part four, of parts one, two, and three of that series.

Part Four: Myths, Facts, and Rumors about Tua Tagovailoa’s Path

Rumor: Tua won’t succeed or have numbers any different than Jimmy Garappolo in Mike McDaniel‘s West Coast offense is an unwise rumor.

Fact: This can’t be listed as a myth yet. That’s because it is only a prediction. This has been said by sports analysts and media personalities. Therefore, it can’t be a fact either. Sports show host Colin Cowherd insinuated that Tagovailoa’s stats will be the same as what Garrappolo’s stats were last season. His reasoning was because Garrappolo was under Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system, which McDaniel will run in Miami. However, that reasoning isn’t plausible. Both Matt Schaub and Matt Ryan were in Kyle Shanahan’s system during their best seasons. Matt Schaub led the NFL in passing yards and Matt Ryan won the NFL’s MVP during those years.

Booger McFarland and Shannon Sharpe both criticized Tagovailoa on sports shows this year. Alabama fans who saw Tagovailoa play in 2019 under Steve Sarkisian’s system were confused at McFarland’s and Sharpe’s comments. Both McFarland and Sharpe said that Tagovailoa won’t succeed in McDaniel’s run-heavy West Coast offense. The fact that Sarkisian mixed West Coast plays in with an RPO offense in 2019 at Alabama had Alabama fans perplexed at the comments. The Montgomery Advertiser’s Alex Byington wrote about Steve Sarkisian after his first 2019 Alabama game. He wrote that Sarkisian “showed off some of his West Coast tendencies throughout,” in the article, “A glimpse into how Alabama’s offense could look under first-year OC Steve Sarkisian.”

Miami’s Offense Will Be Similar to Tagovailoa’s Alabama Offense

Former Alabama fullback Martin Houston said that Sarkisian’s offense was similar to Homer Smith’s offense at Alabama in 1989 during Tide 100.9 radio show in 2019.  Smith was Alabama’s offensive coordinator in 1989. Smith has often been associated with inventing the triple option. But Bleacher Report‘s Douglas Webb called Smith’s offense a West Coast offense in a 2009 article entitled, “Crimson Tide’s Fall Camp: Top Five Questions to be Answered.”

Tagovailoa didn’t struggle under Sarkisian’s offense. He was having his best season at Alabama that year, before the hip injury. He didn’t struggle with the run-heavy system either. Najee Harris had his best season up until that time with 1,224 rushing yards and 304 receiving yards. Tagovailoa’s outstanding 206.9 passer rating in 2019 didn’t qualify for a record. That’s because he didn’t play every quarter for the nine games he played that year. He had 33 touchdowns and 2,840 yards in only 252 attempts in just nine games under Sarkisian’s offense. For comparison, Patrick Mahomes had 5,052 yards in 591 attempts at Texas Tech in 2016. Tagovailoa may have set unbreakable college records if he had finished the 2019 season under Sarkisian’s offense.

Sports analyst Cameron Wolfe reported that Tagovailoa said the Dolphins 2022 offense will be similar to the offense he played in at Alabama. That’s noteworthy since Tagovailoa excelled at Alabama under Sarkisian.

Tua Tagovailoa’s Path Involves Myths About His Size

Myth: Stephen A. Smith said that Tagovailoa’s “miniature size that he brings behind center is an impediment to his success” on ESPN’s First Take. But said it without context. Tagovailoa’s size impeding his playing ability is another myth during Tua Tagovailoa’s path in the NFL.

Fact: Tagovailoa isn’t exactly small at 6’1″ and 217 pounds. As mentioned in the February Last Word on Sports article, “Sports Shows Out of Ideas Are Recycling Tua Tagovailoa Criticism,” almost 40% of quarterbacks that started NFL games in 2021 are approximately the same size as Tagovailoa. That article stated, “Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, Tyrod Taylor, Ian Book, Taylor Heinicke, Jaylen Hurts, Jimmy Garroppolo, Andy Dalton, Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, and Mack Jones are all either smaller, the same size, or just bigger by a small margin.”

A Rocky Relationship With Flores During Tagovailoa’s Path

Rumor or is it?: The idea that the previous coaching staff never supported Tagovailoa should be treated as a rumor at this point, whether true or not. The only reason it should be treated as a rumor is that nobody has ever admitted nor probably ever will admit they never supported Tagovailoa. How Tagovailoa feels about it may be different.

Fact: The McDaniel coaching staff fully supports Tagovailoa. That has become apparent during Tua Tagovailoa’s path in the NFL. McDaniel has promised unity for the Dolphins unlike reports of division during former Dolphins coach Brian Flores’ tenure. Most of the rumors that stem from the Flores era surrounds the constant narrative of Tagovailoa being replaced last season. Flores never was transparent enough to give a direct yes or no answer when asked about a Deshaun Watson trade. “Tua is the quarterback,”  was the only answer he would ever give to the media. Many fans cited that as an indicator that Flores wanted Watson on the team more than he wanted Tagovailoa. Flores wanting to draft Jordan Love instead of Tagovailoa has become recent news from the Tua-Flores saga. Dolphins beat reporter Omar Kelly discussed Flores’ draft desire on the Big O Radio Show.

Tagovailoa was asked about his relationship with Flores in an April press conference. Tagovailoa paused and then said, “Big question. That’s a big question. Ummm…(pause)…Well…(pause)…I’ll tell you this. Ummm…(pause)…I’m very thankful he drafted me to come here to play for the Miami Dolphins. That’s it.”

Fans Question Flores’ Decisions

It confused fans when Tagovailoa was kept out of games for a broken finger. Tagovailoa not being able to make all the throws they needed him to make was one reason Flores gave for Tagovailoa’s benching. Fans wondered if the throws Flores spoke about were deep passes.

It didn’t make sense to fans since Tagovailoa barely threw deep passes anyway. But Jacoby Brissett got injured against the Baltimore Ravens and Flores had to put Tagovailoa in the game. Tagovailoa proved his coach wrong. He was able to make every throw he needed to make, including a 35-yard deep pass to Waddle. Tagovailoa had an excellent performance. Fans wanted to know why Tagovailoa was benched in the first place. That brought speculation that the Dolphins coach didn’t support nor have confidence in Tagovailoa.

Additionally, reports of a locker-room shouting match between Flores and Tagovailoa were everywhere. That presumably happened after Tagovailoa underperformed in poor weather conditions during the game against the Tennessee Titans. Some fans had wondered if he was even coached before the game on how to play in cold weather conditions. That was a question for many since it was the first time in Tagovailoa’s life playing in those conditions. Reports that Flores provided unkind words of discouragement became the narrative.

Tagovailoa Expected To Return To Alabama Form

But Tagovailoa may find himself on the mountaintop once again with McDaniel. The new Dolphins head coach has publicly displayed full support for Tagovailoa. McDaniel’s video chat of telling Tagovailoa he’s all in on him and that he’s going to get all of that greatness out of him has become famous. McDaniel is transparent and addresses rumors directly. He doesn’t dodge questions with misleading answers about Tagovailoa.

Unlike any other year, the Dolphins have surrounded Tagovailoa with pro-bowl players. Just like the tandem of offensive weapons that Herbert and Burrow had from day one, Tagovailoa will now have a tandem of offensive weapons for the first time in his career. And if Tagovailoa takes full advantage of the new Dolphins offense, he should return to his old Alabama form. Then and only then will he become one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. And narratives with facts during Tua Tagovailoa’s path in the NFL should outweigh the myths or rumors. That’s when others will begin to look up from the valley at Tua Tagovailoa standing on the mountain.

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