Examining Tua Tagovailoa's Schedule vs. Herbert, Burrow, Mahomes and More

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 20, 2020

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) looks to pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

The Miami Dolphins are moving forward with Tua Tagovailoa as their starting quarterback after the team's Week 7 bye.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reported the move Tuesday, which comes despite Ryan Fitzpatrick leading the Dolphins to a 3-3 start. 

Tagovailoa, the fifth overall pick in April's draft, will get his first start Nov. 1 against the Los Angeles Rams.

Dolphins' Remaining Schedule

Week 8: vs. Los Angeles Rams
Week 9: at Arizona Cardinals
Week 10: vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Week 11: at Denver Broncos
Week 12: at New York Jets
Week 13: vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Week 14: vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Week 15: vs. New England Patriots
Week 16: at Las Vegas Raiders
Week 17: at Buffalo Bills

While it's long been expected that Tagovailoa would take over at some point, the timing of the move seems odd. Fitzpatrick has thrown for 1,535 yards and 10 touchdowns against seven interceptions, good for the seventh-best (79.6) QBR in football. Miami is also coming off strong back-to-back wins and has the best point differential in the AFC East at plus-47.

There is some benefit to giving Tagovailoa a two-week period to acclimate himself to the starting lineup, but if the team was looking to ease Tagovailoa in, going against the now 0-6 Jets last week would have been ideal.

As it stands, this might signal a trade of Fitzpatrick coming before the deadline Nov. 3. A team like the Dallas Cowboys—who recently lost Dak Prescott to a season-ending injury—could look to salvage their season by installing Fitzpatrick as a starter.

Then again, the Dolphins could keep Fitzpatrick around to serve as a mentor to Tagovailoa.

Looking forward, Tagovailoa does not have a particularly appealing schedule. None of the Dolphins' next four opponents rank worse than 14th in Football Outsiders' pass defense metrics. Games against the Jets and Bengals ease things up in Weeks 12 and 13, but they're immediately followed by tests against the Chiefs and Patriots.

Matchups against the Bengals (Joe Burrow) and Chargers (Justin Herbert) will provide Tagovailoa with his first head-to-heads against fellow first-round quarterbacks, and the Kansas City matchup might provide his biggest potential shootout test against Patrick Mahomes

While the Chiefs are the only top-five pass defense Tagovailoa will face the remainder of the season, his slate isn't exactly filled with cupcakes. The timing of the move just seems at odds with logic, given the success of the Dolphins the last two weeks.        


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