Dolphins give Tua Tagovailoa the tools to succeed ahead of Year 3

At the start of the 2022 offseason, even when the Miami Dolphins were still between coaches after firing Brian Flores but before hiring Mike McDaniel, they made it clear they weren’t looking for a top quarterback to overthrow. Tua Tagovailoa.

The Dolphins’ actions since have confirmed that.

When Deshaun Watson was criminally cleared amid allegations of sexual misconduct and sexual assault, the Dolphins did not insert themselves into the frenzy of teams interested in trading for him. He eventually moved from the Houston Texans to the Cleveland Browns. Miami also wasn’t involved in trade talks for Russell Wilson or Matt Ryan, as veteran flaggers also switched teams.

The Dolphins are also unlikely to take a quarterback in the draft that runs April 28-30, at least not one who will compete to start. Their picks from the first two rounds were shipped to the Kansas City Chiefs as part of star receiver Tyreek Hill’s package. They are now down to four picks in the next draft, one third round, one fourth round and two sevenths.

It’s a far cry from the flirtation with the idea of ​​trading for Watson that has prevailed throughout the 2021 offseason, reaching fever pitch in the final week of the preseason and at the trade deadline. of last season.

In the end, Dolphins general manager Chris Grier opted not to pull the trigger on a deal, buying Tagovailoa the second half of last season after five missed starts early on due to rib injuries or one finger on his throwing hand.

Returning in the second half of a surprising upset victory on Nov. 11 over the Baltimore Ravens, Tagovailoa notched a streak where he had a triple-digit quarterback rating in four straight appearances. That, along with Miami’s strong defense, allowed the Dolphins to finish with eight wins in their last nine games and one win shy of a playoff berth. But there were still some uneven performances, including one with two interceptions against the Jets in a victory and especially the terrible Week 17, 34-3, loss in the rain and cold at the Tennessee Titans which eliminated the playoff team.

That wasn’t enough to keep the Dolphins brass away from another season of Tagovailoa, and instead the organization opted to give Tagovailoa their full support next season while setting him up for success.

The Dolphins went out and acquired Hill, who is expected to form the NFL’s fastest duo with Jaylen Waddle entering his second season. They added Cedrick Wilson Jr. in free agency, who can play mostly in the slot while tight end Mike Gesicki lines up all around and can step up and make contested catches.

Prized free agent tackle Terron Armstead will solidify the left end of the line while serving as a run-blocking mauler in McDaniel’s rushing attack that also brought in free agent brakes Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds.

A quarterback was signed in free agency, but one who comes to Miami — returning home to Miami, in fact — to help Tagovailoa in a backup role. Teddy Bridgewater will provide this support, while being more than able to step in if needed, given his experience.

“We’re very happy to have Teddy in the process and hope to win a few games with these two guys working together and making Tua the best player he can be,” McDaniel said at the NFL’s annual meetings.

After being mishandled with Tagovailoa in his first two seasons, he has everything he needs to excel as long as he stays healthy. If he can’t make a third-year jump, the Dolphins could easily re-engage in pursuit of another quarterback in 2023.

The Dolphins also have Chris Streveler as their third quarterback. He will provide another arm in training camp, and the team can potentially find another quarterback to compete with him for the No. 3 and practice squad duties once the season begins.

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About Octavia A. Dorr

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