It’s no surprise that the Dolphins already have ruled out quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for Week Five, due to the concussion he suffered last Thursday night in Cincinnati. Even though, in theory, Tua could receive all appropriate clearances before Sunday, there’s no way the team should let him back on the field until there is no doubt that he has fully recovered and that he has no enhanced risk of a serious outcome if he suffers another concussion.
There’s another issue that becomes directly relevant to Tua’s return. Officially listed at 6-1 and 217 but definitely not that tall nor that heavy, Tua falls into the “small quarterback” category. While, in reality, he’s a normal-sized human, most NFL quarterbacks, when encountered in normal human circumstances, prompt an immediate search for the closest beanstalk.
Typically, NFL quarterbacks are very tall. And large. And capable of withstanding a serious injury when thrown to the ground by an equally tall (if not taller) and equally large (if not larger) defensive player.
So what can a normal-sized human playing NFL quarterback do? He can protect himself. He can get rid of the ball faster. He can get down on the ground before he’s forcibly deposited there.
At a time when too many people are incorrectly suggesting that it was Tua’s burden to tell doctors that he had a potential concussion against the Bills nine days ago, the basic reality is that every NFL player has a duty to protect himself on the field. Smaller players need to be even more careful.
There’s no shame in not being big enough to play pro football safely. For Tua, the challenge becomes adjusting his game the best he can to avoid taking the kind of clean and legal but devastating hit that he absorbed on Thursday night.