Former Alabama All-American Tua Tagovailoa will make his first NFL start for the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, and the anticipation isn’t limited to the fans.
“That kid is amazing, man,” Dolphins linebacker Shaq Lawson told reporters on Monday. “I can’t wait to go and play with him on Sunday. I’ve seen him a lot in training – how athletic he is, how amazing he is. Seeing it on Sunday this week, it’s going to be amazing. He’s going to lead this team in the right way.
But what if Tagovailoa isn’t amazing against the Los Angeles Rams? What if he played more like a rookie quarterback than a franchise savior?
Miami has made two playoff appearances in the previous 18 seasons and posted a winning record in the past 11.
With 16-year-old veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick as quarterback, the Dolphins are 3-3 and a two-game winning streak in a newly competitive AFC East. New England have won the division title in the past 11 seasons, but the Patriots are 2-4 in 20202.
But Miami announced the QB’s move to the No.5 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft last week when the Dolphins opened the opening date after Tagovailoa took his first five NFL shots to close. a 24-0 victory over the New York Jets on October 25. .
Miami coach Brian Flores doesn’t think Tagovailoa’s level of performance on Sunday will affect the team’s chemistry.
“I think guys, they are rallying with each other,” said Flores. “I think they support each other. Thinking that there would be division because a guy is not playing well, I don’t think we have that in this team. I think when guys make mistakes, this team, they kind of come together. To say that there will be division, I do not see that. It was not so, and I do not foresee it.
“We will train her as we have always trained her. We get up, we rally, we bring energy to the team. To even bring this kind of energy, even talk about it, it is unfortunate that anyone even takes this path. But, obviously, that’s where people think about it. But I don’t see that in this team.
DOLPHINS COACH EXPLAINS DECISION TO PROMOTE TUA TAGOVAILOA AT THE START OF QB
Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki caught 22 passes for 202 yards and no touchdowns as a rookie. In his second season with Fitzpatrick as Miami quarterback, Gesicki caught 51 passes for 570 yards and five touchdowns in 2019.
“I think he’s given everything from the second he was here,” Gesicki said of Fitzpatrick. “Last year everyone said we weren’t supposed to win a game and we went over there and give the Dolphins fans something exciting about going this year, winning five games of our last nine, all that sort of thing.
“And then this year you see him 10 yards on the field, blocking on running games, having fun and having fun and having a little party every time he throws a big touchdown. Or even in training camp, 30 minutes after finding out his mother is dead, the first thing he thinks about is obviously his family and all that stuff, and then he straps his helmet and his shoulder pads, his laces. on his crampons and go workout – all those things that make him the person he is and the leader he is and all that sort of thing.
Miami QB CHANGE YOUR surprend TAGOVAILOA, the love RYAN FITZPATRICK
But Gesicki isn’t worried that the change in quarterback will divide the Dolphins’ locker room.
“I think he did a phenomenal job earning the respect of everyone in the locker room,” Gesicki said of Tagovailoa. “… Our locker room is tight. We all believe in each other and believe in Coach Flores and (General Manager) Chris Grier and (Owner) Mr. (Stephen) Ross and everyone upstairs making decisions, and I think we all trust Tua to come out and make decisions. rooms. … We’re all excited and honestly I think there is a lot of confidence and a lot of confidence in the players that will be set up on the pitch on Sunday.
Changing quarterfinals when the Dolphins finally look like playoff contenders won’t be a problem, Gesicki said, as players aren’t allowed to think about the playoffs six games after the regular season.
“If you know anything about Coach Flo and the way he trains us and prepares us every week,” said Gesicki, “if you think anyone here is thinking of the playoffs, a playoff push? or something other than coming back here after a week off and focusing on our opponent this week, getting ready and reducing the timing and stuff like that, that’s really our main focus.
“I think for our fans, I’m sure they’re excited and all that stuff, and I think they should be. I think it’s an exciting time, but as a pro or as a team that’s starting to come together we all trust Coach Flo and the guys upstairs making the decisions.
Flores said the biggest thing Tagovailoa can do to make his first start a success is to be ready.
“I think he just needs to do a good job of preparation throughout the week,” Flores told reporters on Monday. “I don’t like to give expectations to anyone. I think we just need to go there – really, not even go, but have a great day today, have a great meeting, have a great solution, have a great practice, have a great week and just try to play a good Sunday afternoon soccer game against a good opponent.
“It’s a team effort. Again, it won’t just be Tua, but he’s going to have to do his part in communication, aligning us, making good decisions. We say specific to Tua, but that’s anyone walking the field. We need them to do a good job with their communication, we need them to play with good fundamental technique and we need them to execute, so we ask him what we would ask anyone who is would advance on the ground. But again, he’s young, but we expect him to go out on the pitch and play with good fundamental technique and execute.
Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at Ark AMarkG1.
Marlon Davidson of the Falcons returns after 13 days on reserve / COVID-19
Dalvin Tomlinson sees Giants as contenders despite a 1-6 record
NFL State Recap: Troymaine Pope Raises Chargers
Auburn NFL roundup: Slumping Patriots try both QBs
NFL Alabama Tour: Safety First in Washington’s Loss to Dallas
Watch Daniel Thomas score his first NFL TD on a blocked punt
Landon Collins will miss the rest of the NFL season
Check out La’Mical Perine’s first NFL touchdown