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Playing to Tua’s strengths
Super Bowl shows Dolphins can win with current quarterback Tagovailoa
Here’s a lesson that can be learned from Sunday’s Super Bowl: the Dolphins can get to the title game, and win, with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. They just need to finish building their team and find a way to play to Tagovailoa’s strengths.
Obviously, that’s much more difficult than it sounds, but it can happen.
Let’s pay attention to what’s really going on in the NFL. Teams have made it to Super Bowls without a star quarterback who throws for 4,500 yards and 30 touchdowns. And they’ve done it recently.
Philly won a Super Bowl in
2017 with quarterback Nick Foles.
Sometimes you get to Super Bowls because of your team — not because of your quarterback. You don’t need a strapping, 6-foot-5 guy with a rocket of a right arm.
Here’s hoping the Dolphins, who have made recent pursuits of superstar quarterbacks Tom Brady and Deshaun Watson, get that same takeaway from this year’s Super Bowl.
Kansas City, led by the dynamic passer, Patrick Mahomes, faces Philadelphia, led by the dynamic player, Jalen Hurts.
Even if Hurts and the Eagles don’t win, the quarterback takeaway remains the same because Hurts isn’t your prototypical 21st century NFL passing quarterback.
There are teams that know how to build and win regardless of the quarterback and Philadelphia is one of them.
Similarly, the Rams went to recent Super Bowls with Jared Goff and Matthew Stafford at quarterback.
San Francisco reached Super Bowls with quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Jimmy Garoppolo, and came close this year with rookie Brock Purdy.
It’s not necessarily the quarterback, as Super Bowl appearances from Garoppolo, Goff and Foles will attest, it’s knowing how to build a team and play to your quarterback’s strengths.
The Dolphins, who have strongly voiced their stance that Tagovailoa will be their starter next season, seem content with their quarterback situation.
“I would say with Tua, he’s our starting quarterback,” general manager Chris Grier said at the Dolphins’ season-ending news conference last month. “I don’t know how we could say it any more clearly.”
That’s good. That part of the equation is settled.
Now the Dolphins must figure out the best way to win with
Perhaps it’s having a strong ground game and better utilizing play action and a tight end. Or perhaps it’s throwing more check-downs and getting rid of the ball faster. Perhaps it’s building a bone-crushing defense.
And because Tagovailoa comes with concussion concerns they’ll need a quality backup, and they’ll need to employ that same philosophy that they can win without him throwing for 4,500 yards and 30 touchdowns.
It wouldn’t hurt to acquire a top-notch running back to take some pressure off Tagovailoa, something that would make the play-action and star receiver Tyreek Hill more effective.
In the past, it seemed the Dolphins spent way too much time plotting and scheming to get a quarterback that fits a certain mold.
To me, they should have just built their overall team while figuring out how to win with their current quarterback. And then when “that guy” comes along it’s a plug-and-play situation.
That’s why Philly is in the Super Bowl.
It’s why San Francisco was able to reach the NFC Championship game.
There are perhaps only five or six elite quarterbacks, or, more precisely, five or six quarterbacks that play at an elite level each year.
Good teams know quarterbacks don’t have to fit a specific mold.
For example, Mahomes had 648 passing attempts during the regular season, which ranked third in the NFL, while Hurts had 460 passing attempts, which ranked 16th. That makes sense considering Hurts’ skills and how the Eagles win games.
Meanwhile, Hurts had
165 rushing attempts, while Mahomes had 61. Again, that makes sense considering Hurts’ skills and how the Eagles win games.
Yes, it’s a quarterback’s league, more than ever.
And, yes, the quarterback is still the most important player on the field. It was that way in the days of Slingin’ Sammy Baugh and Y.A. Tittle in the 1930s and 1940s.
The thing to remember is you can win with your quarterback playing almost any style.
One of the big takeaways from the Super Bowl is that a team, once adequately built, doesn’t need a future Hall of Fame quarterback. Philly already proved that with Foles, and it’s proving it again with Hurts.