Former NFL coach of year admits he was wrong on Tua. And Dolphins’ Xavien Howard sidelined

Gary Landers/AP
·4 min read

Former New Orleans Saints Super Bowl-winning coach Sean Payton, whom the Dolphins tried to hire in January, made an admission on Wednesday: He was wrong about Tua Tagovailoa.

Payton, the Associated Press’ Coach of the Year in 2006, predicted last week that Tagovailoa would be benched and replaced by Teddy Bridgewater at some point this season.

After watching Tagovailoa throw for 469 yards and six touchdowns on Sunday in Baltimore, Payton told Fox Sports colleague Colin Cowherd: “I’ve been somewhat hard on Tua and wrong really because these first two games have been really impressive. Watching the game, [Waddle and Hill] reminded you of [Mark] Clayton and [Mark] Duper...

“Credit [coach] Mike McDaniel and those guys; it’s one of those teams that’s drinking the Kool-Aid and playing well. They had a good defense a year ago. Now they have a good offense and explosive offense, and Tua has been following the game plan. Certainly, I’ve been wrong and he’s been impressive.”

Opinions among former NFL general managers who now work in TV have very much varied about Tagovailoa.

Former Kansas City Chiefs general manager and longtime NFL executive Scott Pioli was an advocate for Tagovailoa all offseason and was pleased to see his breakout performance against Baltimore.

“It’s about his decision-making, maturity. and and physically, on the field, it’s about his accuracy,” Pioli — a two-time Sporting News executive of the year — said this week on NFL Network, where he works as a studio analyst.

“He’s aware of his strengths and his limitations. What he does is he finds what works around for the spaces and places that he has limitations. To me, that’s a player that has true confidence. He is confident without being arrogant. His teammates not only like him, they respect him and respond to him. They respond to his competitiveness.

“When I look at Tua, he’s one of the players I absolutely fall in love with because I love guys with the right makeup and that are good teammates. He’s the type of player we want to represent the NFL and what’s good about it. He’s a winner, he’s selfless, he’s authentic. And he shows it.

“His off-the-field kindness we see with all the things he does. That’s not some marketing campaign. He’s the kind of guy who I really believe can represent the National Football League in a good way. I love Tua. What I hope he does is continues to be consistent and do this every single week.”

Former Dolphins executive Mike Tannenbaum, the former Jets general manager, has voiced doubts about Tagovailoa because of size and durability questions and physical limitations.

HOWARD INJURED

Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard missed practice Wednesday because of a groin injury, leaving his status in question for Sunday’s game at Buffalo. He missed a game last season with a groin injury.

McDaniel did not address Howard’s status before practice, and Howard is not permitted to speak to reporters if he doesn’t practice.

Terron Armstead, who played through a toe injury on Sunday, missed practice with that toe injury on Wednesday.

Tight ends Hunter Long (ankle) and Cethan Carter (concussion protocol) remained out Wednesday. Edge player Melvin Ingram Jr. was given Wednesday off as a veteran’s rest day.

Two Dolphins were limited Wednesday: No. 3 wide receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. (ribs) and linebacker Channing Tindall (illness).

THIS AND THAT

Before the Dolphins won at Baltimore and Indianapolis was blown out in Jacksonville this past weekend, CBS assigned its lead announcing team (Jim Nantz and Tony Romo) to Sunday’s Kansas City-Indianapolis game, with the intention of sending that game to more of the country than the Bills-Dolphins game.

Sunday’s results did not change that plan.

CBS will send the Chiefs games to 29 percent of the country and the Dolphins game to 20 percent of the country. Among the markets not getting the Dolphins on Sunday: Orlando and Jacksonville.

Here’s a look at where the games will be televised. Kevin Harlan and Trent Green, CBS’ No. 3 NFL team, will call the Dolphins game for the second Sunday in a row.