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You heard the news Wednesday that Tua Tagovailoa will miss the Miami Dolphins game this Sunday at Las Vegas because his rib injury is worse than first thought, and, if you have followed this young man’s travails, the reaction had to be:
Of course it is.
What, exactly, has gone right for Tagovailoa in the year and a half since Miami drafted him in the first round out of Alabama? Anything?
Some day he’s going to look back and laugh at his unimaginably weird entree into the NFL. We can only hope because that would mean this will have all worked out in the end — an eventuality presently unknowable and open to vigorous debate.
Tua’s budding pro career has been a walk on hot coals, barefoot and uphill, so of course the hit he took in last week’s 35-0 home loss to Buffalo ended up fracturing his ribs. And of course he will miss at least this one game as veteran backup Jacoby Brissett takes over.
(Miami has not ruled out Tagovailoa playing the following week, although a quarterback with tender ribs and the Fins’ sack-inviting offensive line seem a most precarious match indeed).
Tagovailoa’s injury is a fitting, latest chapter in the book of Tua ever since he arrived on Miami’s radar. A brief chronology:
He was the guy coming off serious hip surgery who as a potential draftee might or might not have posed a health or durability risk.
He is drafted fifth overall and most pundits and plenty of Dolfans immediately say, “Should-a taken Justin Herbert instead!” (An opinion feathered by Herbert’s excellent rookie year).
A pandemic deprives Tagovailoa of the rookie offseason and preseason he, in particular, could have dearly used.
He has an up-and-down first season that includes twice being benched for veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.
He later admits he was not entirely healthy as a rookie and was not as comfortable with or knowledgeable of the offense as he should have been.
Speculation and rumor about the Dolphins’ reported interest in trading for Deshaun Watson chases Tagovailoa across the summer and into the new season. (The speculation seemingly will pop up, Punxsutawney Phil-style, with every Dolphins loss or interception until Tagovailoa makes it go away).
Miami makes moves to give Tagovailoa more help including top draft pick Jaylen Waddle, but the Fins through two games have scored the fewest points in the NFL.
Now — conjuring anew those old health an durability concerns — Tagovailoa gets knocked out of Game 2 injured.
Yes, some day Tua and Dolfans will look back on all this and laugh, because Tagovailoa will prove to have been a quarterback worthy of the high pick., a winner who cast aside the rough start to his career and all of the doubters.
We will all look back and laugh, we hope. Because the alternative — Tagovailoa just didn’t work out so what’s next? — wouldn’t be funny at all.