The Tua Tagovailoa era will begin earlier than expected in Miami, as Dolphins head coach Brian Flores officially announced a change at quarterback on Wednesday morning.
Tagovailoa will get the chance to run the Miami offense when the Dolphins play the Los Angeles Rams on Nov. 1, following a bye week.
Tagovailoa Behind Herbert, Burrow for Rookie Honors
That extra time to prepare may have helped Miami make the decision to give Tagovailoa the reins, but Flores says it was mostly done because the Alabama standout was ready to do the job.
Coach Flores has announced that @Tua will be the starting quarterback. #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/kxVqpwZPLY
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) October 21, 2020
“We feel like through practice, meetings, and walkthroughs that he’s ready, and that’s how we’re going moving forward,” Flores told reporters. “He’s gotten more comfortable – accuracy, decision making have been good in practice. But again, practice is very different than games. We’re going to do everything we can from a meeting, walkthrough, practice standpoint to get him ready to play in a game.”
The news shook up markets for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. While Tagovailoa opened among the favorites to win the award, his lack of playing time sent him down to the +5000 range by Week 6 at most sportsbooks.
|NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Odds (via FanDuel Sportsbook)|
|Justin Herbert: +155|
|Joe Burrow: +260|
|Justin Jefferson: +750|
|Tua Tagovailoa: +850|
|Clyde Edwards-Helaire: +1000|
That changed after The Athletic first reported that Tagovailoa was taking over as starter on Tuesday night. At FanDuel Sportsbook, Tagovailoa is now an +850 pick to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (+155) leads the favorites after four effective starts, while Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow (+260) is the second choice. Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (+750) is also in the mix.
Tagovailoa took his first five snaps of the season on Sunday in garbage time of a 24-0 win over the New York Jets. He completed two passes for nine yards in the appearance.
Fitzpatrick Heartbroken by Demotion
The decision came as a surprise because of how well Miami starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had been playing. The 37-year-old veteran knew he was a placeholder for Tagovailoa in the long run. But, Fitzpatrick has thrown for 1,535 yards and 10 touchdowns against seven interceptions while completing 70% of his passes this year, and is coming off back-to-back wins to bring the Dolphins record up to 3-3 on the season.
“It was heartbreaking for me,” Fitzpatrick told reporters. “There was a lot of stuff going through my mind yesterday just from a personal standpoint, not necessarily with the team. Is this it? Was that my last game as an NFL player in terms of being the starter and going out there and playing?”
Given that Tagovailoa can only start a maximum of 10 games this season, it may be tough for him to catch Herbert and Burrow for Rookie of the Year honors. However, FanDuel has also opened up other prop markets on the rookie quarterback.
For instance, bettors can predict who will catch Tagovailoa’s first touchdown pass. FanDuel lists Davante Parker as the +330 favorite ahead of Mike Gesicki (+460) and Myles Gaskin (+500). The sportsbook also posted over/under totals on Tagovailoa’s total passing yardage for the season (1,999.5), and the number of touchdowns he’ll throw (11.5).