Here’s the latest edition of our Miami Dolphin Q&A, where South Florida Sun Sentinel contributors David Furones and Omar Kelly answer readers’ questions.
Question: Does the fact that the Dolphins are facing Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert for the foreseeable future change how the Dolphins feel about trading for Deshawn Watson? Dave Hyde’s recent article about meeting these guys and how it doesn’t bode well for Miami got me wondering what other options they have. — Matt S., via email
A: Watching a divisional playoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills, it was hard for me to imagine a scenario where you throw Tua Tagovailoa in there and he hangs out with either Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes.
Of course, this game was a stark exception, where both quarterbacks had to be near-perfect. And even then, one perfect quarterback had to lose.
I don’t think the Dolphins leaked word that they intended to build around Tagovailoa in the offseason only to have that decision shaken by watching a playoff game by two quarterbacks we already knew were better players in their best performance.
We can’t expect Tagovailoa to be at the level of Mahomes or Allen just yet, but neither is he with Joe Barrow or Justin Herbert. However, in two seasons in the NFL, he has every excuse for why he’s lagging behind his peers in the first round of the 2020 Draft.
He has terrible pass defense. He did not have a healthy receiving body with sufficient depth. He did not have the support of his former coach Brian Flores and had to deal with his injuries.
Despite all this, he showed signs of narrow-mindedness. He usually makes at least one mind-blowing decision per game. The lack of strength in his arms may have prevented him from doing all of the deep or tight window throws, but then again, could his hip, rib or finger injuries still affect him during Year 2? Could this be the off-season when he fully prepares his body and we finally see his full potential next fall?
The prospect of that makes it reasonable to at least give him another season, especially if the uncertainty in Watson’s legal situation persists and neither Aaron Rodgers nor Russell Wilson decide they want to leave Green Bay and Seattle, respectively.
If there are no options, don’t drop the 5th pick in the 2020 draft too soon. Perhaps a new head coach and forward could get the most out of Tagovailoa, and if that doesn’t become apparent after next season, look for a quarterback in the offseason that follows when the next coach can build with someone else behind center.
Now, even if Tagovailoa can’t reach the level of Mahomes, Allen, Barrow, Herbert, or Lamar Jackson, there are paths to success even if you don’t have a star franchise quarterback to lift your organization up in a decade and a half.
Even though Rodgers and Drew Brees have been in the NFC for so long, the list of quarterbacks who will reach the Super Bowl within a decade or more of one winning the conference includes Colin Kaepernick, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jared Goff and Nick Fowles. with Fowles. having won his chance, and Garoppolo is one game away from returning in this playoff. Even when Wilson appeared back-to-back in the Super Bowl, it was when he was younger in a team led by great defensive and running performance before Wilson took on more responsibility for the team.
For about two decades, the AFC went through Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Ben Roethlisberger before Mahomes helped Kansas City win the conference over the last two years. He had a home game left to reach another Super Bowl, but Joe Flacco was able to win everything once. Eli Manning proved twice with the Giants that a hot playoff matched with solid defense can earn you a ring.
For this to work without the best quarterback, everything else has to be near-perfect. The Rams have a stellar lineup in just about every position, so they had to go and add the best veteran quarterback they could find in Matthew Stafford to replace Goff.
The Dolphins have a solid defense right now, so it’s less likely that Tagovailoa or any other quarterback will have to win a Bills-Chiefs-sized shootout in the future. But again, ask the No. 1 Buffalo quarterback after Sunday.
And with Mahomes, Allen, Burrow, Herbert and Jackson in the conference, it’s better to have a guy who can play in a scoring game if the game goes that way.
Have a question?
What goals will the Dolphins pick early in the draft?
Can the Dolphins hire a offensive coach, keep defensive assistants?
Will Zach Thomas be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year?
Why not throw down the field for more waddle?
What do the Dolphins think of RB newcomer Jerrid Doakes?
What free agent wide receiver can pair the Dolphins with the Waddle?
What about Jason Sanders misses?
What changes can occur in the reception building during the off-season?
What linemen should the Dolphins target in free will?
Can Tua still be in the top 10 quarterbacks?
Does Austin Jackson’s move to left-back give you hope?
Did the franchise derail the Fitzpatrick, Tansil, Tannehill deals?