It is officially Tua Time in South Florida. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on Tuesday that the Dolphins will name rookie Tua Tagovailoa the starting quarterback for the remainder season, marking his return from a dislocated hip. Veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick will move to the backup role after leading the team to a 3-3 record.
Tagovailoa entered Sunday's game late in the fourth quarter after Fitzpatrick threw three touchdown passes and built up a sizable lead. The rookie saw limited snaps but completed both of his pass attempts for nine yards. Now he will prepare for his first start against one of the league's best defensive fronts. The Dolphins are currently preparing for a Week 7 bye after defeating the New York Jets 24-0. The team will return to action on Nov. 1 when the Los Angeles Rams visit Hard Rock Stadium.
Fans and players alike rejoiced on Sunday when Tagovailoa entered the game. The fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft showcased his complete recovery from the dislocated hip that ended his college career at Alabama. The limited number of fans in attendance began cheering while Fitzpatrick waved his arms up and down to pump up the crowd.
"It wasn't more so butterflies it was just excitement to get out there and see what plays [offensive coordinator] Chan [Gailey] would give me," Tagovailoa said about taking the field for the first time following his injury. The former Alabama Crimson Tide star did not see any action early in the year due to the canceled preseason and lack of scrimmage opportunities with other teams. Sunday was his first time facing an opposing squad as a professional.
Tagovailoa immortalized his first snaps with an epic post on Instagram. A photographer captured him reclining in the middle of the field, looking at the far end of Hard Rock Stadium. The game was over, but Tagovailoa remained while soaking up the moment. He also took the opportunity to Facetime his parents, who were unable to attend the AFC East battle in Miami. "Come a long way. The journey continues [open book emoji] [blessed]" Tagovailoa wrote in the caption.
The Dolphins are 3-3 and in contention for the AFC East crown due to the strong play of Fitzpatrick and the offense. The 37-year-old veteran has thrown for 1,535 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has also rushed for 135 yards and another two scores. However, the team has always had a plan in place to start Tagovailoa when they felt he was ready.