Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians has a new quarterback he's excited about in Tom Brady, but he's not the only coach in Florida who is working on getting to know a new signal-caller. Brian Flores and the Miami Dolphins selected former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but it's unknown if he will come in and play right away.
Tagovailoa suffered a serious hip injury against Mississippi State in November that prematurely ended his final collegiate season, and many still question if he has fully recovered. Tagovailoa has apparently made great strides in his recovery, but no one knows if he is actually "100 percent." During a recent radio interview on 100.9 FM in Alabama, Arians was asked by former NFL running back Trent Richardson about what he would do if he was in Flores' shoes, and the "quarterback whisperer" gave a very clear answer.
"I think it all depends on his health; if he's healthy I'm playing him," Arians said, via JoeBucsFan.com.
"I don't think you learn anything holding a clipboard. 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."
Tagovailoa finished his junior season as the Crimson Tide's career touchdown responsibility leader (96) and finished third in Alabama history with 7,442 passing yards. Miami did draft Tagovailoa to be the future under center, but the Dolphins also currently have veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and former No. 10 overall pick Josh Rosen in their quarterback room. While he turned 37 last year, Fitzpatrick threw for 3,529 yards, 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 15 games, and went 5-8 as a starter. It's worth noting that he started in every game the Dolphins won last season. Fitzpatrick has called himself Tagovailoa's "biggest cheerleader," but he would like to get some playing time in 2020 as well.
Ultimately, it seems likely that Flores will employ Arians' strategy. If the Dolphins' medical staff comes to the conclusion that Tagovailoa is 100 percent healthy, he's going to have a great shot to lead Miami's offense out onto the field in the season opener. If he is still somewhat recovering, then it's an easy decision to give Fitzpatrick a chance to play for a little while.