The Miami Dolphins are coming off just their second winning record in 12 seasons in just the second year of the Brian Flores-era, ending with a 10-6 record but ultimately missing out on the playoffs. While there are certainly plenty of positive takeaways from this past year, there are also plenty of places for criticism, some of which is directed at rookie quarterback Tue Tagovailoa, according to a recent report from the Miami Herald.
The report in question cites three unnamed players expressing their concerns over whether the former first-round draft pick is the right man for the job. One player basically said as much when it was revealed that the 22-year-old would be the starter next season.
"I understand what they said," one player told the Herald. "But I don't understand why."
The players made sure to clarify that they haven't quite given up on their young teammate -- "they remain hopeful Tagovailoa will improve," is what the Herald story says -- but the commentary from the anonymous group shows that there isn't a lot of confidence in how he stacks up to some of the best quarterbacks in the league.
From the Herald report:
"But the concerning thing to the players who spoke to the Herald is they are not convinced Tagovailoa is going to be great in the future.
They said they were unimpressed by Tagovailoa during training camp to the point they thought he wouldn't be ready to play in 2020. They said they were 'caught totally off guard,' as one put it, when Tagovailoa was named the starter the seventh game of the season.
And another said that before the season finale when players were informed by Flores that Ryan Fitzpatrick would not be available against the Buffalo Bills, he was disappointed because he believes Fitzpatrick was better than Tagovailoa."
It's not an ideal situation. Concerns were expressed over the ex-Alabama prospect's quarterbacking talents beyond his accuracy -- which isn't a terrible skill to have, for what it's worth -- and the ceiling is being set very high for the QB by teammates:
"One defensive player said he isn't impressed with Tagovailoa's ball velocity or arm strength or ability to make off-schedule plays with his legs. So he ultimately questions whether Tagovailoa will ever be able to match the feats of other quarterbacks in the AFC such as Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson.
'Those are the boys we got to beat, right?' this player said. 'It looks right now like that's going to be a big challenge.'"
Josh Allen set multiple franchise records this season, Patrick Mahomes can already boast an MVP award and Super Bowl at just 25 years old and Deshaun Watson is one of the most electrifying players in the sport in spite of the Texans' front office appearing to actively make life more difficult for him on the field. That's a tall task for anyone, including Tagovailoa, to live up to as a rookie.
At the same time, there are some more rational criticisms of the 22-year-old, as one offensive player told the Herald that Ryan Fitzpatrick -- who was at one point benched for, and brought back on to replace, the rookie this season -- just straight up looked better than Tagovailoa did in practice. It was even at the point where he was "frustrated" Fitzpatrick wasn't available to play in the season finale, a 56-26 loss to the aforementioned Allen's Bills.
Ultimately these concerns from teammates only hold so much weight, as the unnamed players are not the ones making the decisions. As far as people in those roles are concerned, Tua will be Miami's man next year.
"I think Tua has made a lot of improvement, really developed over the course of the year, so we'll just continue to try to make those improvements," Flores said.