Have the Miami Dolphins found their franchise quarterback?
By my unofficial count at a recent preseason game, the two most popular jerseys worn by Dolphins fans bore the names of either current quarterback Tua Tagovailoa or all-time legend Dan Marino (who hasn’t played for the team since the previous century), not necessarily in that order. Miami has been looking for the team’s next great quarterback for what seems like decades, and after the team used a top-five overall pick to select Tagovailoa out of Alabama in 2020, pressure is building on Tua to prove that he’s worthy of the hype.
(If not, those Deshaun Watson trade rumors may just continue to get louder.)
As a rookie, Tagovailoa split time with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, starting nine of Miami’s 16 games. The result was a 10-6 season, equaling the Dolphins’ best record since 2008, but Miami still finished the year on outside of the playoffs looking in. Now, with Fitzpatrick gone to Washington, it’s Tua’s job for better or worse.
He’ll have one more familiar face to throw to, as Miami drafted wideout Jaylen Waddle, a college teammate of Tagovailoa’s, with the sixth overall pick this spring. Top receiver DeVante Parker and leading rusher Myles Gaskin will also continue to play significant roles in the Dolphins’ offensive attack, and the addition of free agent Will Fuller could help as well.
The defense should be a strength of the team, led by Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard, as Miami ranked sixth in the NFL in points allowed a year ago. Having an All-Pro kicker like Jason Sanders can be a gamechanger too: Sanders made 36 of his 39 field goals (and 100% of his extra points) last season.
The Dolphins kick off the 2021 season with two consecutive divisional games, opening at New England September 12 and hosting Buffalo at Hard Rock Stadium seven days later. October’s slate includes a pair of intrastate foes, as Miami visits Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay October 10 and faces Jacksonville in London, England the following weekend.
National television games include a home Thursday Night Football matchup against Baltimore on November 11 and a Monday night game in New Orleans December 27. The regular season ends the same way it began, with a second showdown against the Patriots on January 9.
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