One would have thought Dolphins fans learned a good lesson fighting over Tannehill for the better part of a decade. Unfortunately, history has repeated itself through the first 11 starts of Tagovailoa's career.
It doesn't have to be this way. As a fanbase, we can course-correct and alter the way we instinctively react to a Dolphins quarterback.
For better or for worse, here are nine lessons Ryan Tannehill can teach us about Tua Tagovailoa — and, ultimately, give him a fair shot in Miami.
Don’t Live and Die by Every ThrowIt's really OK if you don't tweet — approvingly or disapprovingly — about every single play Tagovailoa makes. Angst about each and every moment of one regular-season game isn't healthy and does no one any good.
One play will never prove whether Tagovailoa is the man to lead Miami forward. He requires at least the rest of this season before any sound judgments can be made about his future with the team.
4th and 2, tua has no time and gets drilled. pic.twitter.com/d6nyLJINxF— josh houtz (@houtz) September 19, 2021
Acknowledging a Mistake Doesn’t Make You a HaterLike politics, sports have unfortunately become a place where you're either on a team, or you're not. There are no centrists when it comes to sports takes. You either agree with someone or you don't.
In Tagovailoa's case, you either defend him to the death, or you're a hater. You can't point out a flaw or the Tua Brigade breaks out in full-on whataboutisms. We need to do better.
Reasons for Playing Poorly Shouldn’t Be Confused With ExcusesFootball is a team sport. That means Tagovailoa can't succeed, or fail, on his own. He certainly can help overcome some of the Dolphins' downfalls, but he's not a superhero. Given that Tagovailoa was injured this past week, he can only do so much, especially when it seems that he's not even given a chance to succeed.
As long as there's evidence to back them up, reasons aren't excuses. They're valid, and it's OK to provide them as context when Tua doesn't look like the champ we want him to be.
Eventually, the Quarterback Must Overcome the Team’s WeaknessesFor seven years, Dolphins fans made excuses for Ryan Tannehill's failures in Miami. At some point, it's the quarterback's job to overcome his team's weaknesses and be the reason they win anyway.
Dan Marino took terrible teams deep into the playoffs. Teams with no running game and bad defenses. It wasn't always perfect, or even good, but Marino made it look a lot better than it should have.
If Tagovailoa can't accomplish similar things, Miami has an obligation to find someone who can.
The Quarterback Must Be a Vocal and Respected LeaderRyan Tannehill tried to lead by example in Miami. He wasn't the most respected player on the team or the loudest in the huddle. He just went to work and the chips fell where they fell.
Tagovailoa has to take control of the team and be the leader and face of this franchise. Not being selected as a captain this season was a terrible look, no matter what anyone says. That has to change. Tua Tagovailoa needs to be the unquestioned voice and leader of the Miami Dolphins.
#Chargers QB Justin Herbert has now thrown for more than 5,000 passing yards in his career.— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) September 19, 2021
He joins Patrick Mahomes (5,381) as the only two players to top 5,000 yards in the first 17 starts of a career. pic.twitter.com/RExaGoJiSd
It's OK to ComparePlaying the 'What If' game is usually fruitless, but in the NFL it's totally reasonable to compare a player your team selected to those who are performing well on other teams. In Tagovailoa's case, it makes sense to compare him to Justin Herbert, Mac Jones, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, and an assortment of other young quarterbacks.
Being "just good" in the NFL will only get you so far until you play a team that is great. If Tagovailoa is anything but great, the Dolphins will likely need to find someone else. That's just the name of the game in the NFL. Quarterback is the most important position in sports, so you better have someone who makes a difference in that spot on your team.
It took Ryan Tannehill and Alex Smith many years of tough play AND a change of scenary for them to thrive. Both were clearly talented, but again, were thrown into the fire early and were not in good situations. Point of all this? Patience and environment are VITAL for young QBs.— Andrew Aziz (@AndrewAzizSB) April 9, 2021
Practice Patience Before Making a DecisionRyan Tannehill had plenty of time to prove himself in Miami, which is why Dolphins fans should feel nothing when he succeeds elsewhere. He was given ample time to succeed in Miami. He had multiple coaches and entirely different rosters around him, and he failed anyway.
Dolphins fans should want Tua Tagovailoa to get at least half the waiting period as Tannehill did in Miami to prove himself so there are no regrets. He deserves enough time to prove with certainty that he won't leave Miami and become someone else's star QB.
Flores needs to be accountable and address the fact that he has been the reason for three different offensive coordinator set ups in last three seasons. #dolphins have 17 points in 8 quarters and can’t execute anything on offense.— Nick M (@McNarzuk) September 19, 2021
The Team Can't Fail Him EitherExcuses can be reasons, but context must always be a part of the equation. If Miami continues to fail Tua Tagovailoa by changing the coaches and players around him every season, they'll be repeating the same mistakes the team made with Ryan Tannehill.
Stability and patience are a prerequisite to successfully grooming a quarterback in the NFL. Miami has to give Tagovailoa the tools and stability a QB requires in order to win.
Our Week 2 Shining Star of the Week is Aaron Rodgers‼️ After facing the possibility of getting benched, QB1 came out and lit up the Detroit Lions with 4 touchdown passes ⭐️#FlexYourMuscles #DiscountDoubleCheck pic.twitter.com/bKMAve8DW8— Joel’s Muscles (@jolsmuscles) September 21, 2021
If a Better Player Is Available, Pull the TriggerEveryone is replaceable, including Tua Tagovailoa. Miami can not waste half a decade trying to figure out whether he's the guy. If you're still asking if he is going to be our guy next year, he's not going to be our guy ever.
If Tagovailoa cannot prove he's a bonafide leader and star this season, Miami should make a play for Aaron Rodgers.
They owe it to themselves after years of waiting around for quarterbacks to prove they're special. The fans deserve a win-now move, not a years-long tryout.