Deadspin Argues About Stuff: Rating Tua’s debut

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Tua Tagovailoa was okay in the Dolphins’ win over the Rams.

Tua Tagovailoa was okay in the Dolphins’ win over the Rams.
Image: (Getty Images)

Dustin Foote: Alright Donovan, Tua Tagovailoa just won his first start against the Rams in Miami. We argued about whether or not the Dolphins should start Tua when Miami made the announcement two weeks ago. I wanted him in, you wanted him out. With the win, did coach Brian Flores make the right call to start his rookie QB?

Donovan Dooley: I still think Tua would have benefited from more time behind Fitzpatrick. 12/22 for 93 yards and a TD is far from “I told you he should be playing” numbers. Also, let’s not forget one of the first few plays of the game when Aaron Donald forced Tua into a fumble and he got tossed around like a suitcase coming out of baggage claim.

Let’s also not forget that the Dolphins scored a TD on defense and special teams today, he was basically carried by his team. This is far from evidence that supports Tua being the starter now.

DF: You’re right. This wasn’t a great game for Tua. Defense and special teams should get the game ball. They won the game for Miami — no doubt.

But I went into this game expecting the Rams to blow the doors off Miami, you did too! Win or lose I thought it would’ve been good to get the rookie in. We know LA is one of the best defensive teams in the league and our last conversation revolved around whether or not we were worried about an injury prone rookie QB making his first start against Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. Tua took some shots, completed only 54 percent of his passes, and only threw one TD that his receiver had to make a play on.

It wasn’t a great performance, but it was a start. Tua will only get better from here.

DD: I’m a little less enthusiastic about crowing Tua for beating this Rams team when Jared Goff was giving the ball away like it was a pack of Skittles on Halloween. If Tua can’t win a game where the other quarterback turns the ball over four times then we have bigger problems.

Also, let’s not forget that Jalen Ramsey was nonexistent in this game due to an illness and would have made many of Tua’s few completions even harder.

Let’s keep all this in perspective, I didn’t see anything from Tua that told me that my analysis of this situation was wrong in any form or fashion. Tua was mediocre today, that’s not good enough to justify him starting this soon.

DF: So what would the alternative be? Keep Fitz in and let Tua grow cobwebs on the bench? The dude is ready to go! And at 4-3, the Dolphins will now play in some important games for the first time in years. And if we know anything about his career, it’s that Tua rises to the occasion.

DD: If Tua is actually ready, then he should be putting up performances that are on par with his fellow rookie quarterbacks like Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow. Both had better debuts than Tua.

I need to see more before I say I’m wrong about the Dolphins’ decision. Tua has done nothing to show me he’s ready like those other two have.

DF: Both rookie QB’s you mentioned caught L’s in their debut. They look great now, but remember Herbert wasn’t even supposed to start that game. Looks like putting him in was worth it for the Chargers!

I don’t deny that the Miami defense helped Tua win this game, and yes, his numbers were average. But you can’t keep the future of your franchise on a sidelines indefinitely. Tua will have more average games in his long career. But the Fins had to put him out there to see what they have.

DD: Yes, they do have to put him out there at some point. But let’s remember my argument is about timing cause playing these QBs too soon could hinder their entire careers.

I haven’t seen enough from Tua to justify this being the right time for this move. Let’s be honest, you haven’t seen enough either.

If Tua jumps out and gives me 300 yards and 3 TDs with close to zero turnovers over the next few weeks then I’ll gladly admit I was wrong.

I just need to see it.

DF: Well, Tua’s got the Cardinals, Chargers, Broncos and Jets this month. By Thanksgiving, I think we’ll both see enough to know that now was the right time for Tua.

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