Sports

Nine Lessons Ryan Tannehill Can Teach Dolphins Fans About Tua Tagovailoa

Tua Tagovailoa deserves a fair shot in Miami.
Tua Tagovailoa deserves a fair shot in Miami. Photo by Mark Brown/Getty
It's a case of déjà vu when it comes to how Miami Dolphins fans are reacting to a quarterback's career. There are many parallels between how the fanbase is reacting to Tua Tagovailoa and how the fanbase reacted to Ryan Tannehill during his seven-year stay in Miami.

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 Throw

It'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.

Acknowledging a Mistake Doesn’t Make You a Hater

Like 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 Excuses

Football 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 Weaknesses

For 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 Leader

Ryan 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.

It's OK to Compare

Playing 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.

Practice Patience Before Making a Decision

Ryan 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.

The Team Can't Fail Him Either

Excuses 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.

If a Better Player Is Available, Pull the Trigger

Everyone 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.
KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.
Contact: Ryan Yousefi