Now that Tua Tagovailoa has been ruled out against the Buffalo Bills, how will the Miami Dolphins cope?
With their starting QB ruled out, this is indeed a major set back to both the player and the team. How the Dolphins respond is all that matters now.
No matter where you stand on concussions, or the Dolphins, or Tua Tagovailoa, the fact remains that Miami’s signal caller has become synonymous with the word ‘concussion’ this season and that’s not a good thing. Even worse, is the fact that he’s now set to miss his team’s opening playoff game.
Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa set to miss playoff clash with Bills
According to reports, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa remains in the league’s concussion protocol and has such, has now been officially ruled out of Sunday’s Super Wild Card Weekend matchup against the Buffalo Bills. After an announcement from Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel on Wednesday, it’s now a case of all-hands-on deck for Miami. “As of today, Tua has not been cleared by doctors to resume football activities on the field with his teammates, so because of that and because of the time that he’s missed, I can rule him out for Sunday,” McDaniel said.
How did Tua Tagovailoa get here and what do the Dolphins do now?
In case you missed it, Tagovailoa was placed in the league’s protocol on back on December 26th and as a result, missed Miami’s last two games of the campaign. In terms of what this means for the Dolphins, Tagovailoa’s absence will see Miami go down one of two roads. Either they will turn to veteran signal caller, Teddy Bridgewater, or they will give the reins to rookie Skylar Thompson. Where Bridgewater is concerned, the QB has recently been fighting to recover from a finger injury which he suffered in the team’s Week 17 game against the Patriots.
With that said, McDaniels did disclose that the Dolphins will be preparing for Sunday’s game with Thompson in mind as the starter. “His biggest thing is that he knew he had to be in a position where he had to be fully functional on Sunday, that took some strain, and really just some guts and work ethic,” McDaniel said about Bridgewater’s situation before speaking of Thompson. “That’s not an easy thing to do, and as it stands right now, he’s working to prepare himself to be capable on Sunday. But as a result of that, he can’t afford any setbacks or really anything that’s conflicting against the healing process in the week. As a result, we will be approaching the game today, the Wednesday game, as Skylar Thompson as our starting quarterback.”
Do the Dolphins have a chance against the Bills?
With nothing set in stone, there is of course still the chance that Bridgewater could improve and be cleared to play before Sunday arrived. That, would of course greatly increase their chances against a Bills team that’s favored to go all the way. Yet, it must be said that the road back for Bridgewater isn’t exactly straightforward.
“It’s him communicating, and he’s got to be able to rip it in time to be able to get some work with his teammates, but that’s not even really his objective,” McDaniel said. “With this timeline, he’s really focusing on being able to come through if needed, because he knows on the front end, he’s not going to be able to get that many reps, if any, so it’s him building and bottom line is if we’re in the situation on Sunday and we need him to play and he says he can play, my relationship with him and what he’s earned, the trust that I have for him, if he says he can roll he can roll.”
What happens if Teddy Bridgewater can’t play?
In the event that Bridgewater can’t play, the Dolphins’ hopes of advancing will rest squarely on the arm of Thompson. In truth, Thompson has given a good account of himself when he’s been asked. With a 57% completion rate for 534 yards, he’s definitely not horrible. Indeed, it was he who helped to engineer a hard-fought win against the Jets in Week 18 to put the Dolphins into the playoffs. Ultimately, Tagovailoa’s absence is a blow but not a surprise. Having seen no less than three concussions this year, this isn’t so much about if he misses the team’s next game, as it is about whether or not he will be healthy in the long run.
“I’m just thinking about his day, and him getting to full health as a human being,” McDaniel said, “and then when it’s time to turn the page, I’ll turn the page, but I’m pretty over integrity and principle to a fault, and stubborn as all get-out, so if I hear that’s the way that I should approach it I will approach it that way, and I do not deviate. So, the next step is really for him to be fully through this protocol, and then we can see where the land lays, so to speak, but outside of that, I’m just worried about him.”
How has Tua Tagovailoa coped with the news?
Speaking about the mentality of his player, McDaniel disclosed that Tagovailoa has learned his status is out of his control, which in turn has led to understandable frustration. This after all, is a quarterback who had his name in the MVP hat prior to injury. It goes without saying that such a player wants to be on the field. On the other hand, he knows all-too-well that such things can’t be rushed.
“I would say it’s conflicting,” McDaniel said of Tagvailoa’s reaction to the news. “He himself is learning that he needs to listen to the advice of doctors and medical professionals, he understands the severity of doing that, so there’s a little bit of things that he can’t control. You know, he was an incredible part of the entire season, I think eight of our wins were as a result of him playing quarterback amongst the team, and that did not come because it was just gifted, that was a lot of work and preparation, so it’s very frustrating, much as a lot of things in life and football are, but it’s very frustrating for him to not be able to go through everything with his teammates. And really, it was a huge goal of his to get this team to the playoffs, and he wants to play in the playoffs. There’s nothing more fun than playoff football, and he really finds normal football fun, so very conflicting, I would say, but understands that it’s in his best interest that the doctors and medical professionals are seeking, and respects and regards that, so that’s about it.”