Bruce Arians would start Tua Tagovailoa, if he’s healthy

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The Dolphins have three competent quarterbacks, including rookie Tua Tagovailoa. Coach Brian Flores showed in 2019 a willingness to play the best guy, period. It’s unclear whether he’ll do that in 2020, or whether he’ll get the rookie on the field in order to get him the reps needed for his future development.

Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians recently was asked whether he’d go with Tua or a veteran. Arians was, as he always is, direct and clear.

“I think it all depends on his health; if he’s healthy I’m playing him,” Arians told 100.9 FM in Alabama, via

Tagovailoa suffered a fractured hip last year at Alabama. Doctors have expressed confidence that he’s ready to go for his rookie season.

“I don’t think you learn anything holding a clipboard,” Arians added. “You know, I had Peyton Manning his first year, Andrew Luck his first year, Ben [Roethlisberger] was one of those guys that went in by accident because Tommy Maddox got hurt. You miss all the practice reps, you miss the game reps. I don’t know what you learn holding a clipboard watching.”

He’s right, but the balance becomes whether the Dolphins are more likely to win with Ryan Fitzpatrick or Tua. If Flores believes the team is better off with Fitzpatrick, what should Flores do?

Last year, as the Dolphins were trying to determine the ceiling of Josh Rosen, the 10th pick in 2018, Flores decided to go with the older player, because Flores gave them a better chance to win.

Here’s one key point to remember in this regard: It’s much easier to start with Fitz and switch to Tua than to start with Tua and switch to Fitz. Once the hand-picked franchise quarterback is in the fray, benching him won’t help his development or confidence.

12 responses to “Bruce Arians would start Tua Tagovailoa, if he’s healthy

  1. actually i think the dolphins biggest issue is configuring the offensive line to work with both a left handed quarterback and a right handed one.

    I would configure the offensive line to a left hander right now.

    Even if pass protection might be weaker at beginning for a right hander.

    Tua is the Dolphins future.

  2. This all depends on the O-line. I think you have to start Fitz for a while and see how they hold up. Bruce Arians has forgotten more about football than I’ll ever know but I do know that while holding a clipboard is not ideal, neither is your young QB behind a porous O-line. Careers have been ruined by that approach.

  3. Ask Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes how well it worked out that he sat his rookie year behind Alex Smith. Arians is a blowhard.

  4. Bruce Arians must have forgotten what Yogi Berra said when Yogi said “You can observe a lot just by watching”

  5. Why does it matter what Bruce thinks?

    He needs to start worrying about his severely declining 42 year old quarterback.

  6. It won’t mean much in terms of wins. The roster is better than it was last year but I doubt either QB gets them to the playoffs this year. I’d sit him out a year get him a better o line and weapons next season and let him play after a year as a back up to fitz and rosen. If anything, I like the idea of tryin to develop rosen some this year and maybe trading him off mid season or at the end of year.

  7. Well, if holding a clipboard taught you anything, then Charlie Whitehurst would be Otto Graham.

    Arians, in my coach GM mind, is easily correct that game reps and reps with the starters are what actually teaches players how to play and lets them learn the actual lessons that they need to first hand. But sitting for a year, maybe two in some cases, can teach players other things. Mostly, this is how to prepare correctly throughout a season. Watching someone like Fitzpatrick and then seeing how that translates to game results is helpful for a rookie, even one as professional and accomplished as Tua.

    Also (and this is really only applicable to the kind of guys you should want to be your franchise players), it will make him more determined. Aaron Rodgers sitting for years didn’t make as much more skilled as it made him more determined. Of course the Packers didn’t need him to start until then. Some guys, like Herbert, are really just not ready though. Herbert has a lot of work to do in learning how to get comfortable playing under center before getting put in the game in real time. Paxton Lynch is a direct example of putting a guy in who still hadn’t learned to do that yet, despite his ability.

    Starting reps are the only things that REALLY help, but the guy does have to be ready for them. Of course, this is a comment from some guy on the Internet and not one of the NFL’s more successful coaches, so my lack of expertise is obvious. Still, I think that sitting can help, but only for a short time in most cases. After a certain point, there’s nothing you can learn from a holding a clipboard. It’s time to see if you can put those lessons to work and actually develop real experience.

  8. I remember a Patrick Mahomes quote form last year where he said he benefited from sitting behind Alex Smith because he didn’t really know what was going on and sitting gave him time to learn. Id probably bring in Tua at the mid point of the season, to give him some extra learning time, especially considering the Covid disruption.

  9. No one ever accused Coach Arians of being the smartest guy in the room.

  10. He probably should sit just to heal completely but I want to see him play. Watching this kid spin the football is a thing beauty.

  11. Riddle me this:

    Back in the day a team would draft a QB and he’d sit at least a year sometimes 2 or 3 and the BUST rate was very low, about 10-15% or so, but in this era of drafting a QB and throwing him straight to the wolves the BUST rate is hovering around 70% since 2000 with the latest additions of Mariota, Winston and Rosen, don’t you think that the “throw them straight to the wolves” mentality is one of the biggest reasons for the bust rate being so high?

    I DO!

    BTW QBs don’t make Bama look good, Bama makes their QBs look good!

    With that being said who was the last franchise QB to come out of Bama?

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