Tua Tagovailoa Would Reportedly Get Bruce Arians’ Starting Nod If He’s Healthy

Tua Tagovailoa of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after passing for a touchdown in the first half against the Duke Blue Devils
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Count Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians a fan of Tua Tagovailoa. During an interview with 100.9 FM in Alabama, via JoeBucsFan.com on Friday, he said he would likely give Tagovailoa the starting job — if he knew the quarterback was healthy. Arians said he believes if the former Alabama Crimson Tide signal-caller is able to play, he needs to learn on the job as a rookie in the NFL.

“I don’t think you learn anything holding a clipboard. You know, I had Peyton Manning his first year, Andrew Luck his first year, Ben [Roethlisberger] was one of those guys that went in by accident because Tommy Maddox got hurt. You miss all the practice reps, you miss the game reps. I don’t know what you learn holding a clipboard watching.”

The Bucs head coach also made it clear that while he believes in playing talented rookies in their first season, he doesn’t necessarily love coaching them in general. He told the hosts of the radio program his view on coaching in the NFL is similar to how it is in college in that he never enjoys coaching rookies or freshmen. He added there is one added benefit of being the pros, as opposed to the NCAA — paying players is legal in the NFL, and he prefers it that way.

The question of whether Tagovailoa is healthy heading into the 2020 season has been around since before this year’s NFL Draft. There was even some talk he might fall out of the first round due to those health questions. Worries about the injury he suffered in 2019 with the Crimson Tide even led to rumors suggesting that the Dolphins might pass him up and take an offensive lineman in the first round instead.

The Dolphins did take Tagovailoa and now the question of whether or not he should start is being bandied about on the Internet. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk thinks starting him because he’s a rookie and needs to get his feet wet isn’t necessarily the situation the Dolphins are in. Last year, head coach Brian Flores had veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick take over from the much younger Josh Rosen. Florio said Flores tends to pick the quarterback he thinks will give the team the best chance to win, even if the franchise is in a rebuild.

Florio also pointed out one aspect of the debate Arians seemed to ignore, noting that it’s much easier for a team to start with a veteran like Fitzpatrick and then switch to a rookie like Tagovailoa later on. He wrote that it’s harder for a first-year player’s development when they begin the season as the starter but get benched after struggling.