Tagovailoa boasts immediate chemistry with former Alabama teammate Jaylen Waddle, whom the Dolphins selected sixth overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, Cameron Wolfe of ESPN reports. As a rookie, Tagovailoa struggled to make the most of a receiving corps compromised of contested-catch specialists who don't provide much separation, and it's clear that Miami's priority this offseason has been to surround him with more explosive playmakers. By making Waddle the second wideout selected in April's draft, the Dolphins are allowing Tagovailoa the benefit of linking up with a playmaker whose skillset he's already familiar with, and who should be able to start out of the slot immediately. It's worth noting that Miami also had the option of reuniting the young quarterback with DeVonta Smith, the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner and a potentially more complete receiver at the NFL level. The decision to grab Waddle instead clearly points to a bet on Tagovailoa's ability to maximize the potential of an explosive playmaker capable of bringing separation to the short and intermediate game. Even if Waddle doesn't play outside right off the bat, he should provide Tagovailoa with a perfect complement to new deep threat Will Fuller (suspension).
Coach Brian Flores expects Tagovailoa to make a big jump in his second NFL season, Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald reports. Flores was arguably side-stepping a question about Tagovailoa's status as the starting quarterback for 2021. It would be unusual to move on from a No. 5 overall pick after nine NFL starts, but that hasn't slowed down trade rumors involving Tagovailoa and Texans QB Deshaun Watson. Even if nothing materializes on that front, Miami might consider a QB with the No. 3 overall pick. Flores also mentioned that he'd like to retain Ryan Fitzpatrick, though the 38-year-old seemingly intends to sign elsewhere once he becomes a free agent March 17.
Tagovailoa completed 35 of 58 passes for 361 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in Sunday's 56-26 loss to the Bills. He also rushed six times for 28 yards in the season finale. Tagovailoa was benched for Ryan Fitzpatrick last week but got the call under center with a postseason berth on the line after Fitzpatrick tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. While his final stat line looks respectable, much of Tua's yardage, as well as his 25-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Perry, came after the game was well out of hand due to a combination of effective Buffalo offense and mistakes from Tagovailoa. Fitzpatrick's status for the opening round of the postseason is in doubt, but Miami's hopes of even getting that far now hinge on a Colts loss to the Jaguars in the late window, so it appears the Dolphins will come up just short of a postseason berth. The fifth overall pick out of Alabama finishes his rookie season with 1,814 yards and an 11:5 TD:INT in 10 games (nine starts), and Tagovailoa will likely open his second season as the Dolphins' starter under center.
Tagovailoa will be backed up by Jake Rudock against Buffalo on Sunday, with Ryan Fitzpatrick having tested positive for COVID-19, Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post reports. Tagovailoa has been replaced by Fitzpatrick with the Dolphins trailing twice this season, most recently during last weekend's narrow win over the Raiders. With Fitzpatrick now destined for the reserve/COVID-19 list, though, the rookie signal-caller won't get the benefit of a relief option should he struggle against Buffalo. The Dolphins would guarantee a playoff berth with a win over the Bills, so pressure may be mounting for Tagovailoa to take convincing command of the offense.
Coach Brian Flores said after Saturday's win over the Raiders that Tagovailoa will start Week 17 against the Bills, Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald reports. The rookie completed 17 of 22 pass attempts for 94 yards before being benched in the fourth quarter Saturday, but he'll remain the starter for the final game of the regular season despite Ryan Fitzpatrick delivering an incredible victory for the Dolphins. Flores didn't hesitate in naming Tagovailoa the starter for Week 17, but he could have a shorter leash for his young quarterback with Miami attempting to secure its place in the playoffs.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/12||@New England Patriots||4||17.88|
|3||09/26||@Las Vegas Raiders||24||22.38|
|5||10/10||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers||12||19.80|
|11||11/21||@New York Jets||29||24.75|
|13||12/05||New York Giants||3||17.63|
|15||12/19||New York Jets||29||24.75|
|16||12/27||@New Orleans Saints||10||19.00|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||64.1||1814||11||5||109||3||156|