Count veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick among those who believe Tagovailoa is ready to make that type of jump.
“Everything is going to be a little more comfortable this year,” Fitzpatrick told ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe. “Playing in the league is going to be a little more familiar, your routine through the week and on road games. He’s no longer trying to figure out where the grocery store is, where he’s going to live or what car he’s going to drive. All that stuff is figured out. He can solely focus on being an NFL QB.
“To have an offseason, to have repetitions, to have some sense of continuity with [co-offensive coordinators] George Godsey and Eric Studesville in his ear calling the plays and working with him. All that stuff points to him having a much better season this year and continuing to progress as a quarterback. That’s the most important thing for him — progression.
“They drafted him in the top five for a reason, with his skill set and what he can do. There are very few people on this planet who can do that. For them to be fully bought in and believe in him, he’s going to do the same thing. He’s going to buy into what they’re coaching, and I think good results are going to come from it.”
There has been speculation outside the building that the Dolphins could follow the Arizona Cardinals’ path and move on from their first-round pick quickly. Those rumors have been rejected by the Miami brass outright. With Deshaun Watson trade gossip not slowing, those talks about Tua’s future in Miami won’t abate.
Tagovailoa didn’t experience the first-year success of draftmates Justin Herbert or Joe Burrow, pre-injury. The Dolphins QB flashed early but struggled as the season wore on with accuracy and reading defenses. Were those issues a harbinger of a career headed sideways or the product of a young, talented signal-caller who didn’t have offseason workouts, learning through the struggles?
Fitzpatrick, who reiterated plans to continue playing, mentored Tua through the season and took over when the rookie was benched twice. The veteran journeyman said that the trade rumors Tagovailoa is experiencing are just part of the high-profile position.
“That’s the nature of being a QB in the spotlight,” Fitzpatrick said. “Unless you’re winning the Super Bowl, there are always going to be questions and rumors. You look at a guy like Jared Goff, who was in the Super Bowl a few years ago and a No. 1 pick, now he’s on another team.
“I saw Tua’s comments from the other day. The advice I would give him and what he’s going to do is put your head down, you go to work, you tune all that stuff out and you let your presence, leadership ability and play on the field doing all the talking for you. There’s always going to be rumors. There’s always going to be haters and doubters. As long as you have the belief in yourself and a team that believes in you because of how you carry yourself every day, that’s what matters. It gets harder and harder as social media is such a big part of everybody’s life now to tune it out, but that’s what he has to do, and that’s what I think he’s going to do.”