Dolphins and NFL fans wanting to get a glimpse at Tua Tagovailoa might not have to wait long.
Per Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman, it's a "foregone conclusion" that the Alabama product could take the field as Miami's QB1 in Week 1, and from afar, that would be the absolute correct decision. This, of course, weighing a single factor: if Tagovailoa is healthy and ready to go, which seems to be the case.
Given the NFL's trend of shifting away from sitting rookie quarterbacks to playing them right away, with varying degrees of success, playing Tagovailoa from Week 1 over Ryan Fitzpatrick is a no-brainer, simply put. After all, the myth that Fitzpatrick is a good quarterback mentor is just that — a myth — and Tagovailoa's career and importance to a Miami franchise cursed by QB luck is more important than learning behind the mercurial Fitzpatrick.
But there's more to it than just the QB competition in South Florida. Overall, the case that rookie QBs need to start sooner in today's NFL is stronger than ever. Daniel Jones, Kyler Murray, Drew Lock and Gardner Minshew were just four of the NFL's rookie QBs who started games last year and had varying degrees of success — but more than enough positives to move them forward than negatives to hold them back.
Jones outplayed some expectations (while turning the ball over 27 times), while Murray flashed qualities that could make him an NFL star. The mustached Minshew stole headlines and wins in Jacksonville while Lock's 4-1 record and seven touchdowns as Denver's starter opened eyes and provided a firm foundation for what the Broncos can expect.
The age-old role of young QBs carrying a clipboard is going the way of the dodo, and that's for the better. Tagovailoa's college career speaks for itself, after all, and the only way to get acclimated to NFL game speed is to play in NFL games, so it's only common sense to start the rookies sooner rather than later to really know what you have under center. Why would/should teams risk sitting a guy for three or four seasons only to discover he's not who they thought he was?
There's also the question of a team's window of contention during a quarterback's rookie deal, especially given the rising costs of quarterback contracts in today's NFL, so knowing who you have at QB sooner rather than later is a plus for a lot of teams. This all works to favor Tagovailoa, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. That kind of capital doesn't — or shouldn't — sit on the bench for long, especially when Miami showed flashes of being on the come-up last season.
In all, if Tagovailoa lives up to the expectations of being an elite-caliber NFL quarterback, there's zero harm in starting him from Week 1. And it's good to see that becoming the rule over the exception in today's NFL.