The Miami Dolphins have pledged Tua Tagovailoa as their starting defender in 2021, but not everyone on the team is happy.
Armando Salguero, Miami Herald columnist, spoke to three Dolphins players about Tagovailoa and the organization’s decision to name him a starter in 2021 and they expressed doubt about the overall ability of Tagovailoa and his ability to develop what the team wants him to be: top-tier defenders.
Concerns began to arise during training camp.
According to Salguero, the three players he spoke with, who remain anonymous because they say the Dolphins’ coaches “demanded”; they have never disclosed any concerns to the media – admitting Tagovailoa was a teammate. Excellent But that doesn’t automatically translate to a talent on the pitch and what they see this season worries them that he doesn’t have what it takes to raise his game.
It started during the training camp when the three players “Not impressed” by Tagovailoa until “they think he won’t be ready to play in 2020.” He had been training fully and without restrictions in late July, five to six weeks prior to the start of the season and was not named as a week 1 starter without knowing their opinion about it. Did Tagovailoa get better in the first half of the season.
All three players were caught “totally defensive” when defender Ryan Fitzpatrick was in charge before Week 8 and Tagovailoa was selected as a future starter, many told Salguero they were disappointed when it was right. Saying that Fitzpatrick was unable to play a crucial game in Week 17 against the Buffalo Bills, the Dolphins needed to win that game to reach the playoffs and at least one player thought Fitzpatrick should have started that game. (Which ended in a 56-26 loss) instead of Tagovailoa.
“We always think of the next person no matter what,” the player said, “but I see Tua as the next man because Fitz is better.”
Curious about Tua’s future
The 2020 season is just Tagovailoa’s first time as a pro and he has had a total of nine starts under his belt. His future was totally unwritten. But one player told Salguero he was unsure if Tagovailoa had the ability to improve to the level he needed so the Dolphins could truly compete.
… Players also said that they did not see the trait in Takoviloa’s skill that was beyond his precision.
One defensive player said he was not impressed with Takoviloa’s ball speed or arm power, or his off-grid ability with his legs. In the end, he questioned whether Tagovailoa would be able to match the abilities of other AFC defenders such as Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson.
“That’s the boy we have to beat, right?” Said the player, “now it looks like a big challenge.”
Salguero only spoke to three players and said it did not know if the other players felt the same way. And it’s entirely possible that Tagovailoa can make a great step forward in 2021 and prove these players are wrong. But until he does, questions about his future and overall abilities will not go away.
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