When the trade deadline of Nov. 2 came and went, it assured Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa that the team was his for the final two months of the NFL season.
The expiration of that insurance comes in one game.
After the end of the Dolphins’ season finale and 16:25 kickoff against the New England Patriots on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium, the offseason for Miami begins. Ahead of the decisions the franchise will have to make, it will commit to sticking with Tagovailoa heading into year 3 for the Alabama product, or will the Dolphins (8-8) reinstate themselves in trade talks for the Houston Texans’ Deshaun Watson or the pursuit of another quarterback in the upper tier?
Tagovailoa does not allow this opportunity to occupy his mind as he enters the final start of his second NFL season.
“No, I’m not worried about that,” Tagovailoa said over the web conference after Wednesday’s training session. “If it comes up, it comes up. If it does not, it does not.”
The comments that Dolphin’s general manager Chris Grier made the last time he spoke, the day after the trading deadline expired, were telling of his mentality.
“If there is a player available around the league who is considered to be one of the best players in the league at any position, then you look at it and try to go for it,” Grier said on 3 November.
The final half of Tagovaailoa’s season could then be seen as an audition to determine if the franchise is comfortable allowing the No. 5 pick in the 2020 draft to keep the reins.
He missed the first game that followed, with a finger injury on his throwing hand, which further increased his concerns about durability. Tagovailoa then entered the second half of the November 11 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night, starting the subsequent six ahead of Sunday’s matchup with the Patriots (10-6).
Tagovailoa completed 69.3 percent of passes in the six-and-a-half games in 1,504 yards (7.2 per attempt), eight touchdowns and five interceptions, plus a rushing score. It started with a stretch of four consecutive outings with a quarterback rating of over 100.0, but the last three: 75.5 against the New York Jets, 91.5 against the New Orleans Saints and ugly 53.1 in Sunday’s dull defeat in Nashville, 34-3, to the Tennessee Titans, who eliminated the Dolphins from the playoffs.
“It did not go the way I wanted it to go,” said Tagovailoa, who is evaluating his second NFL campaign. “It did not go as our team wanted it to go. It is difficult when you have an opportunity and you do not take advantage of that opportunity.”
Tagovailoa completed only 18-of-38 passes, was fired four times, fumbled three times, lost one of those fumbles, threw an interception and had at least a few other passes that could have been intercepted in the loss to the Titans.
“We’re moving on,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said of his message to Tagovailoa this week. “We move on to the next game. We take it one game at a time, one day at a time. We make the corrections, improve and go out there and put your best foot forward. That is the case for him and every player. That would be my message. to anyone who has suffered adversity. ”
Misuse of football several times in the rain and cold at Nissan Stadium on Sunday, it left Tagovailoa motivated to work on dealing with these conditions in the offseason.
“It’s trying to be able to simulate the scenarios in cold weather and try to throw the ball when it’s wet at the same time, you know, in cold weather,” said Tagovailoa of Hawaii, who plays college football in Alabama and now professionally in Miami. “Many of the good teams are also teams in cold weather. I think that’s something I need to take into consideration in this offseason for myself. You should probably visit my brother or take a trip somewhere where it is cold, and get the feel of it. ”
With one game left in his second season, Tagovailoa has a slightly better quarterback rating than he did as a rookie, 89.8 to 87.1. His completion rate improved from 64.1 to 67.8, and yards per. trials have increased from 6.3 to 7.0. With 76 more passing attempts this year, he has thrown four more touchdowns – from 11 to 15 – but five more interceptions, from five to 10.
The lack of a bigger year 2 jump also comes among other factors such as offensive coaching changes, without a doubt the league’s worst pass protective offensive line, the lack of a consistent running game and elite, consistently healthy receiving corps and his own health / availability.