Saturday, February 24, 2024

Ryan Fitzpatrick says Tua Tagovailoa is ‘limited’ physically; Sean Payton predicts Dolphins will bench QB

Tua Tagovailoa stayed undefeated against Bill Belichick and the Patriots on Sunday, leading the Dolphins to a 20-7 victory over their rivals in Week 1. But some prominent names around the NFL remain unconvinced the young quarterback is the future in Miami. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tagovailoa’s predecessor, indicated to the “Pardon My Take” podcast this week that Tua’s physical limitations will make it hard for him to emerge as “elite.” Former Saints coach Sean Payton took it a step further, telling “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” that he foresees the Dolphins benching Tagovailoa later this year.

“I get how dicey every opinion around Tua is,” said Fitzpatrick, who spent 2019-2020 on the Dolphins. “But if you’re a top-10 quarterback, you have to have at least one trait that is absolutely special — something you can do that nobody else can do. … With Tua, it’s the not the arm strength. It’s not the ability to run. It’s not the ability to scramble or get out of trouble. So what is it? … Anticipation and accuracy. Those are the things he has to be elite at. And I think that he is very, very good at it.

“The problem is,” Fitzpatrick continued, “sometimes you have to create … and he’s not gonna be able to scramble around, escape the pocket and make the big plays down the field. So he has to take what he has that’s elite — his accuracy — and hopefully, as he gets better, his decision-making, and he has to be the best in the NFL at it, because he’s limited in some of those other ways.”

Payton was even blunter while skimming over the Dolphins’ QB situation. Months after he was contacted by Miami as a potential head coaching candidate (for which the Dolphins were punished, as Payton was still under contract with the Saints), the former Super Bowl champion told Cowherd that he expects up to eight teams to make a QB change during the 2022 season, the Dolphins included.

“I think at some point we’ll see (another QB starting) in Miami,” he said, before alluding to Tagovailoa’s backup. “And they played well with Tua (in Week 1), but Teddy Bridgewater, who I’ve had before, he’s an outstanding player.”

Tagovailoa went 23 of 33 for 270 yards and one touchdown in the Dolphins’ Week 1 win over New England. He’ll get his next chance to prove doubters wrong when Miami visits the Ravens (1-0) this Sunday.

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