By: Dylan Ashcraft, Editor
Is there a position in professional sports more polarizing than the NFL quarterback?
Some teams have been incredibly fortunate, seeing their quarterback succession go from one great to another; Joe Montana to Steve Young; Brett Favre to Aaron Rogers; Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck. Luck, of course, called it a career way sooner than anyone could have imagined, but you get the point.
On the contrary, it has been 20 years since Dan Marino hung up his cleats for the Miami Dolphins, and fans everywhere have held their collective breaths for a true successor ever since. 22 quarterbacks have started at least one game for the team after Dan-an agonizing, endless handing of the torch number 13 left burning ever so brightly. The 22nd, of course, is none other than the lefty from Alabama who happened to dawn the same number 13 in college: Tua Tagovailoa.
Having an other-worldly quarterback shatter every passing record in the book while playing in an era where it was acceptable to light up the passer set a lofty standard for fans and media members alike. Dan the man was way ahead of his time. And for a multitude of reasons, the Dolphins brass failed to usher in a signal-caller who ever came close to meeting those standards. Mistakes were made.
Draft-day disasters: Jamar Fletcher over Drew Brees; Ronnie Brown over Aaron Rogers; Jake Long over Matt Ryan; Ryan Tannehill over Russel Wilson. Failures in free agency: Daunte Culpepper over Drew Brees (again). And disastrous coach/quarterback pairing: Neither Joe Philbin nor Adam Gase did Ryan Tannehill any favors in coaching or protection.
Fast forward to 2020, and the stars seem to be aligned in Miami for the first time in forever. The front office is making decisions that appear to have longevity and culture in mind, while walking in lock-step with the coaching staff. Speaking of coaching, the Dolphins appear to have one hell of a coach in Brian Flores. And last but not least, it appears the team has their quarterback of the future at long last in Tua Tagovailoa.
The three most important facets of the game of football, all coming together at once.
With that comes a word of caution: patience. Tua is already the polarizing face of the franchise in Miami. He has endorsements knocking down his door. He is 3-0 as the starter of a team playing quality, complimentary football. The Dolphins have not had a player with this much hype surrounding him since Marino himself. And while these are all good things, it also has the ability to become incredibly toxic without exercising the aforementioned caution.
Tua is still a rookie. While he has desirable trait after desirable trait to go with a bright future, he will certainly have ups and downs. It comes with the territory. Media heads have flipped back and forth on opposing talking points regarding the young quarterback (we see you, Cowherd). Tagovailoa is already primed to be at the front and center of this league for the foreseeable future, working hand-in-hand with coach Flores to bring the Dolphins back to relevance. The microscope is firmly fixated on south Florida.
Dolphins fans, cherish every moment of this ride. Remember the pain we have collectively endured to get to this point. We know what it is like to be irrelevant. We know what it is like to be scoffed at. We know what it is like to not have nice things. It took 22 tries since Dan, but it appears we have something nice once again. Trust the process. Watch Tua grow. And most importantly, don’t let the hype blind us to the pains it took to get to this point. The climax of a story, after all, is nothing without the journey it took to get there.
It is exciting to be a Dolphins fan again. Cheers!
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