Two of the three quarterbacks selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft had great days on Sunday. No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow earned his first win as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals by throwing for 300 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He remembered that winning was fun. No. 6 overall pick Justin Herbert did not get a win, but kept his Los Angeles Chargers in contention with a much more talented Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad and made a few incredible throws that reminded everyone why his draft stock was so high. He finished with 290 yards and three touchdowns with a pick, while completing 80 percent of his passes.
That leaves No. 4 overall pick Tua Tagovailoa, who had a much less interesting day. He rode the pine as starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick led the team to another loss against the Seattle Seahawks. The fact that Miami only lost by eight to the human torch that is currently Russell Wilson is a point for Fitzpatrick and the rest of the roster. But after watching Burrow and Herbert ball out yesterday, it feels like the time is coming for Tua to take the field. Right?
Maybe not. Head coach Brian Flores was asked that very question today during media availability and said that while the team's prized rookie has "checked all the boxes" insofar as his health goes, they won't be caving to external pressure to get him out there.
All the reasons for keeping Tua out make sense. He is coming off a nasty hip injury at Alabama, this season is already bizarre with a pandemic happening in the background, and the Dolphins are not very good so it's not like they're sacrificing a potential playoff run by throwing Tua in there before they deem he's ready. He's to be the franchise quarterback, and taking any risk at all this season, of all seasons, isn't entirely necessary.
But there does come a point where the Alabama product is missing out on valuable experience in the process of getting relegated to the sideline. The biggest worry going into the season in terms of how it relates to Tua felt like the offensive line. With no training camp to coalesce as a unit (and the fact that it wasn't exactly an elite group last year to begin with), putting the team's first overall pick out there felt like it was asking for trouble. Now, though, the line has proved it can be adequate. The Bills sacked Fitzpatrick three times in Week 2, but otherwise the line has only allowed a sack per game in the first four weeks of the season. Not great, but it means that when Tua does step in behind those linemen, he isn't walking into a meat grinder.
The time has come. Tua's draft classmates are proving their worth to their organizations, and he should get that opportunity, too. There's never a "good" time for a rookie to make his debut, because rookies are never really ready. But, as the cliche goes, there's no time like the present. Let Tua play football again.