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Mike McDaniel: I'd 'Be a Fool' Not to Embrace Tua Tagovailoa as Dolphins 2023 Starter

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 16, 2023

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - NOVEMBER 06: Head coach Mike McDaniel of the Miami Dolphins speaks with Tua Tagovailoa #1 prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on November 06, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Tua Tagovailoa missed Sunday's playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills and suffered multiple concussions this season, but Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel is looking forward to the quarterback being back under center in 2023.

McDaniel told reporters he would "jump on the opportunity" for Tagovailoa to be the team's leader next year following Sunday's 34-31 wild-card loss. "I'd be a fool to not embrace him," he added.

With Tagovailoa sidelined and Teddy Bridgewater only available as a backup because of a dislocated pinky finger, Miami was forced to start rookie Skylar Thompson at quarterback in Buffalo.

He made some solid throws but still finished just 18-of-45 passing for 220 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in defeat. He was also sacked four times and could have received some more help from his talented pass-catchers, who failed to come down with contested balls on multiple occasions.

It is easy to think about what could have been for the Dolphins this season.

They went 8-5 when Tagovailoa was a starter, and one of those losses came when he was carted off the field early in the game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Another came when he suffered an apparent concussion in a loss to the Green Bay Packers, where his level of play dropped off in the second half.

Tagovailoa's health will be a major talking point this offseason, but ESPN's Adam Schefter reported he is "expected" to be back as the starting quarterback in 2023, with medical professionals feeling "confident" in that likelihood.

It is not difficult to envision the Dolphins competing for a playoff spot again next season, with the 24-year-old throwing to the likes of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, especially if he can stay healthy.

McDaniel is ready to "embrace" running it back.