Tua Tagovailoa admits he didn’t know playbook well enough as a rookie

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Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had an up and down rookie year after the Dolphins selected him at No. 5 overall.

He was coming off a hip injury that ended his collegiate career and didn’t have the benefit of an offseason program due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tagovailoa still compiled a 6-3 record as a starter, but he was benched for his ineffective play in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick in two of those games.

Tagovailoa has said he’s more comfortable heading into Year Two. But he admitted one of his issues in 2020 was his knowledge of the scheme — or lack thereof.

“I wasn’t comfortable calling plays,” Tagovailoa said Wednesday, via Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald. “I think the guys that were here last year were phenomenal. I just didn’t have the comfortability of checking plays, alerting plays and doing that. I just rode with the play, even if I knew it wasn’t going to work. I was going to try to make it work still.

“I didn’t actually know the playbook necessarily really, really good and that’s no one else fault but my fault. Our play calls were simple when I was in. I didn’t have alerts and checks. Where now, I feel comfortable and I can maneuver my way through these things now.”

That Tagovailoa feels more comfortable heading into Year Two is good news for the Dolphins, who made him a top-five pick. While he may not have looked as good as other top 10 picks Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert as a rookie, Tagovailoa still has plenty of time to develop into a franchise quarterback.

8 responses to “Tua Tagovailoa admits he didn’t know playbook well enough as a rookie

  1. The Dolphins passed on drafting a QB this year. Tua better be the real deal of else they screwed up majorly, and it will cost them a lot to get a new good QB.

  2. Don’t listen to Tua. He’s just being modest and overly critical of himself. The playbook was built for Fitzpatrick. The new one will be built for Tua and you will see the difference.

    In contrast, the playbook for Fitzpatrick in Washington will not be built for him (no Chan Gailey) and he will fall back to his normal self.

  3. What’s amazing – that with COVID restrictions, the one thing these guys had control of was learning the playbook. They couldn’t regularly practice, they didn’t have a preseason, OTAs, etc- but they had the playbook. And this guy is saying- “yeah, my bad, I didn’t study enough.” So the one thing you could do- you didn’t. Great. I am not a Tua detractor or a Phins hater- I just hate seeing lazy. Maybe I’m reading too deep- maybe it’s a learning deficit. Who knows? But it’s really not a good look to say the one thing you could be doing to make yourself better at your craft- you didn’t seize the opportunity.

  4. Good that he can admit that but wow, what an admission. Imagine not bothering to learn your job well enough to perform it.

  5. Learning a playbook requires more than just reading it. You’ve got to get reps against a defense. Reps preferably with the first team.

  6. Tua’s a smart kid…he’ll be fine. Not every QB comes in and is world beater day one. Even Mahomes got a year to sit.

  7. When you look at Tua and what he did well in college and the scheme and players he had last year that t was a terrible fit. Tua got rid of the ball faster in college than Fitzgerald did for us last year. So why didn’t it translate? We didn’t have one player that could get open inside of 15 yards and catch a ball. Now we have three. This new offense will use Tua’s accuracy to hit windows underneath and hit players in stride. Just my opinion but I think Tua takes a huge leap this year not a small one. I see him hitting crossers,slants and comebacks like Brady does lulling teams to sleep with it and then getting big plays over the top. He won’t be as good as Brady reading a defense but his accuracy is a huge problem with our speed at receiver.

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