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Miami Dolphins could bench Tua Tagovailoa during 2021 season

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa lived with some uncertainty this offseason amid NFL trade rumors linking his team to Deshaun Watson. While the Dolphins are now prepared to roll with Tagovailoa in 2021, it’s not a guarantee he remains the starter.

Drafted with the No. 5 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Tagovailoa was at a significant disadvantage in his first NFL season. The COVID-19 pandemic wiped out rookie minicamp and preseason games, a crucial time for a young quarterback to receive practice and in-game reps in a new offense.

While Tagovailoa showed flashes of impressive talent at times, there were also struggles. For the most part, the Dolphins won because of their defense rather than with the help of their top pick.

  • Tua Tagovailoa stats (2020): 64.1% completion rate, 11-5 TD-INT ratio, 6.3 ypa, 181.4 ypg, 52.5 QBR

Miami let Ryan Fitzpatrick walk, replacing the trusted veteran with Jacoby Brissett. While there won’t be a quarterback competition in training camp, NFL reporter Ben Volin suggests it wouldn’t be a surprise if a change was made during the season.

“The job is Tua Tagovailoa’s. But we already saw last year that Brian Flores doesn’t have a ton of confidence in Tagovailoa and was willing to send him back to the bench. If Tua struggles early in the first two months, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Flores turn to Jacoby Brissett to save the Dolphins’ playoff hopes.”

Boston Globe’s Ben Volin on Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa

It’s a fair thought, considering head coach Brian Flores benched Tagovailoa in his rookie season. The Dolphins came a game away from reaching the NFL Playoffs and that loss was the result of a three-interception performance by Tagovailoa in Week 17.

Miami’s coaching staff understands the situation its quarterback operated under last season. That’s why there is excitement this summer. Tagovailoa benefits from a full offseason to learn the system, will play in the preseason and the Dolphins’ receiving corps is upgraded significantly.

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The Miami Dolphins schedule sets this team up nicely for success and they have one of the best defenses in the NFL. But if Tagovailoa can’t get the job done, Brissett (84.1 career passer rating) is more than capable of starting.