Stop Playing it Safe – Start Tua

After watching Miami Dolphins’ quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick struggle in the red zone against the Seattle Seahawks defense, a unit that has given up an average of almost 30 points per game this season, no one would blame head coach Brian Flores for allowing his thoughts to center on the idea of starting rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa next week against the San Francisco 49ers.

Stop thinking and just start the kid, coach.

Give your team a chance to build around a quarterback with a higher ceiling than Fitzpatrick. We have all the evidence required to predict the outcome of the Dolphins’ season should Fitzpatrick continue to start. There are games where “Fitzmagic” burns a hole in the sun, making throws that impersonate a franchise quarterback. Unfortunately, those virtuoso performances are followed by too many sub-standard games filled with too many passes thrown to the opposing team. There is a reason why Fitzpatrick’s record as a starting quarterback is a losing one – he isn’t good enough.

The thing is, coach, Ryan Fitzpatrick knows he isn’t good enough. After all, the man did graduate from Harvard. One of the reasons why we like “Fitzmagic” so much is that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. (We also love the beard and flamboyant shirts). He knows his role. “Fitz” is always there to fill in when needed without the added baggage of thinking he is a franchise quarterback.

When asked about starting Tua, Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores offered the following quotes reported by the South Florida Sun Sentinel, “As far as being a starter, we don’t feel like he’s ready, there just yet. That’s where we’re at with him and other players or other rookies that aren’t ready to take that step just yet.”

And this quote referencing Tua’s hip injury, “Look, the honest thing for me is what if it was my kid, and he had a serious injury like that, I wouldn’t want his coach to be in a rush to throw him in there because of anything like that.”

NFL coaches like playing things safe. Flores would prefer a “forced” hand that would make his decision to start Tua completely unassailable. But “Fitzmagic” is too good of a player for this. The 1-8 or 2-7 win-loss record will not happen. As far as Tua’s previous injury goes, sure that is cause for concern, but how can two to three weeks make a real difference when he’s had 10+ months to heal? In other words, if the injury is a real issue, then Tua probably should get placed on the Injured Reserve (IR) list this year. By the way, no one is ready to play NFL quarterback at the level coaches would like for their first start – this requires on the job training during actual games, preferably ones with real stakes, not throw away games at the end of the season.

No one can blame Flores, or any other coach, for seeking the unassailable scenario for tough decisions involving the most important player on an NFL team; especially, if the record is lacking a bit in the “wins” column.

But the pursuit of glory almost always requires risk – no time like the present to start the future.



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