One former NFL GM has had enough of the Tua Tagovailoa hype.
Tagovailoa made his Dolphins debut on Sunday and the team cruised to a 28-17 victory over the Rams. However, the final margin had little to do with the Alabama rookie with Miami being led by defense and special teams.
It wasn’t so much Tagovailoa’s performance that irked former Browns and Patriots exec Michael Lombardi, as it was the level of excitement around it.
“Tua was nice. They’re trying to make him be the second coming of any quarterback,” Lombardi said on VSiN Live. “He throws a 5-yard completion and (host) Scott Hanson on the Red Zone was going absolutely berserk like he just saw the Red Sea parted. I mean seriously, the guy threw a high school play, and he completed it.
“That’s not why you draft the guy the [fifth] pick overall. You want to see unique talent, and the way Justin Herbert plays, even in a loss, that’s unique talent. The way Joe Burrow has played in games, as rookies, that’s unique talent.”
Tagovailoa sat behind Ryan Fitzpatrick the first six games of the season, in part because he was recovering from hip surgery. With the Dolphins ahead most of the game, they were cautious with their play-calling.
ESPN.com reported before Sunday’s game that part of the motivation for starting Tagovailoa was to see what they had in him given they own the first- and second-round picks for the 1-6 Texans. Lombardi, who now works for VSiN, seemed to agree with that logic.
“You’ve got to ask yourself the question as you sit there as a Miami Dolphin executive, and as a Miami Dolphins coach, is Tua better than Justin Fields? Because you’re going to end up with a top-five pick. Is Tua better than the North Dakota State quarterback (Trey Lance)? You’ve got to ask yourself those questions and generate honest answers, or else your franchise is going to be stuck in time. … Is he good enough to win a Super Bowl? I think that’s the (question) they need to get answered with Tua.”
Tagovailoa completed 12-of-22 passes for 93 yards and a touchdown after fumbling the ball way on his first possession. Dolphins offensive coordinator Chan Gailey is confident he will improve the more he plays.
“He needs reps. He’s just gotta keep working timing with these guys and keep getting reps,” Gailey said, according to the Miami Herald. “Those reps that he got the other day were invaluable and I think he’ll start to get better in bigger jumps as we go forward because the more he sees, the more he understands, the more feel he gets with the receivers, I think he’ll get better and better. He just needs to play. He’s got a lot of talent. I’m anxious to see what steps he’s going to take this week.”