Here’s the latest part of our Miami Dolphins Q&A, where South Florida Sun Sentinel writers David Furones and Omar Kelly answer questions from readers.
Q: Will the fact that the dolphins will face Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert in the foreseeable future change the dolphins’ perspective on a deal with Deshaun Watson? Dave Hyde’s recent article about meeting these guys, and that it does not bode well for Miami, made me wonder what other choices they have. – Matt S., via email
ONE: Watching the divisional playoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills, it felt hard to imagine a scenario where you dropped Tua Tagovailoa in there and he would hang out with either Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes.
Granted, that game was a drastic outlier where both quarterbacks had to be almost perfect. And even then, a perfect quarterback had to lose.
I don’t think the Dolphins leaked out that they were obligated to build around Tagovailoa this offseason, just to get that decision influenced by watching a playoff game with two quarterbacks that we already knew was better to play on their excellent best.
We can not expect Tagovailoa to be on par with Mahomes or Allen yet, but he is not there with Joe Burrow or Justin Herbert either. However, he has all the excuses through two NFL seasons for why he is behind his 2020 draft first-round contemporaries.
He’s had a terrible passport protection. He has not had a healthy receiving corps with any significant depth. He did not have the support of his former coach, Brian Flores, and he has had to deal with his own injuries.
Despite all this, he has shown signs of limitation. He usually makes at least one major decision per. match. His lack of arm strength may not allow him to do all the deep or narrow window throws, but then again, could his hip, rib or finger injuries still have affected him through year 2? Could this be the offseason where he gets his body completely ready 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 there is still uncertainty in Watson’s legal situation and neither Aaron Rodgers nor Russell Wilson decide they want out of Green Bay and Seattle, respectively.
If the opportunities are not there, then do not give up on election No. 5 in the 2020 draft too soon. Maybe a new head coach and offensive staff could make the most of Tagovailoa, and if that’s not clear after next season, then take the quarterback search into the offseason that follows, where the next coach can build with another behind center.
Now, even though Tagovailoa cannot get to a place where he is on the caliber of Mahomes, Allen, Burrow, Herbert or Lamar Jackson, there are paths to success even if you do not have the star franchise quarterback who will lift your organization through one and a half decade.
Even with Rodgers and Drew Brees in the NFC for so long, the list of quarterbacks who have reached the Super Bowl in the decade-plus since one of them won the conference includes Colin Kaepernick, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jared Goff and Nick Foles – with Foles to win his chance and Garoppolo a fight away from coming back this postseason. Even when Wilson had his back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, it was when he was younger on a team with a great defensive and running game at the helm before Wilson took on more of the responsibility on the team.
For about two decades, the AFC went through either Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Ben Roethlisberger before Mahomes helped Kansas City win the conference the last two years. He has a home game left to reach yet another Super Bowl, but Joe Flacco was able to win it all once. Eli Manning proved twice with the Giants that a hot after-season, along with a solid defense, can give you a ring.
For it to work without a top quarterback, everything else has to be almost perfect. The Rams have a star-studded list of just about every position, so they had to go out and add the best veteran quarterback they could find in Matthew Stafford to replace Goff.
The Dolphins have a top defense in place now, so that reduces the likelihood that Tagovailoa or any other quarterback in the future would win a Bills-Chiefs shootout. But then again, ask Buffalo’s No. 1-ranked defense about it after Sunday.
And with Mahomes, Allen, Burrow, Herbert and Jackson in the conference, you better have a guy who can play in a high-scoring affair if a match were to go that way.
Do you have a question?
What are some early draft goals that Dolphins will choose?
Can the Dolphins hire an offensive coach, retain defensive assistants?
Will Zach Thomas enter the Hall of Fame this year?
Why not throw downfield to Waddle more?
What do the Dolphins think of training team rookie RB Gerrid Doaks?
Which free agent recipient could Dolphins pair with Waddle?
What’s up with Jason Sanders’ miss?
What changes might the corps receive in the offseason?
Which offensive linemen should the Dolphins target in free agency?
Can Tua still be a top-10 quarterback?
Does Austin Jackson’s shift to leftist hope?
Has the franchise error Fitzpatrick, Tunsil, Tannehill acted?