- Dolphins’ top draft pick Tua Tagovailoa’s odds to start Week 1 have shortened to +200
- Veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick is the betting favorite to start against the Patriots on September 13
- Read below to see if you should take a flier on Tua taking the Week 1 reins for Miami
It started as a long term plan to ease Tua Tagovailoa into the starter’s role after recovering from a devastating hip injury.
It’s suddenly turned into the shortest odds the promising pivot has seen to become the Miami’s Dolphins’ Week 1 starter since before the NFL Draft in April.
2020 Dolphins’ Week 1 Starter Odds
*Odds from June 15
With a capable, yet limited starter in veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick the betting favorite to line up under center in New England on September 13, is there any way the former Crimson Tide wunderkid douses FitzMagic?
What Has Changed in a Month?
As mentioned, Tagovailoa was pegged with +160 odds to be the Dolphins’ Week 1 starter — before even being drafted by Miami with the fifth overall pick.
Since then, the fantasy of finding a franchise pivot with the most talent since Dan Marino (sorry, Chad Pennington) turned into the reality that he was coming off a career-threatening hip injury.
The odds reflected that, as he faded into +325 odds in May.
But a recent surge comes from the latest reports coming out of Miami. And Tagovailoa’s rehabilitation is reportedly nothing short of a miracle. No, really.
Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa makes his move to South Florida; offseason hip recovery has been ‘miraculous’ https://t.co/3mHr4cZX1Y
— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) June 13, 2020
Having Tua at the facility also has the Dolphins’ brass gushing over their prized pick. It’s not just the talent that they’re raving about, but the rate at which he’s been working through everything they are throwing at him.
— ? Trate121 ? (@MayitoQuintero) June 14, 2020
Couple that with a guy who had No. 1 overall pick talent prior to injury — in 24 games as a starter, he completed around 70% of his passes, throwing for better than 6,000 yards, 76 touchdowns to just nine interceptions before getting cut down by injury in his junior season — and it appears that the sky is the limit.
Training Wheels or Full Speed Ahead?
If Tagovailoa continues to rehab at this pace, it could mean a legitimate position battle with Fitzpatrick for the starter’s role.
Fitzpatrick earned a lot of respect for steadying a franchise that looked like it was going hard off the rails after a historically bad start to 2019.
After rejoining the lineup in Week 6, Ryan Fitzpatrick was PFF's 10th-highest graded QB in the NFL.
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) June 8, 2020
Benched after Week 1, he returned as a starter in Week 6 to replace the brutal Josh Rosen experience, going 5-7 the rest of the way.
Let’s be clear: Miami has made some great strides this offseason, including beefing up their defense with stud Byron Jones at corner, while adding plug and play free agents like Kyle Van Noy, Shaq Lawson and Elandon Roberts.
They also signed Ereck Flowers to bolster their line, and inked running back Jordan Howard to offer relief to whoever is under center.
But even with Tom Brady in the NFC, and the division more up for grabs for the first time in at least a decade (when Brady injured his knee in Week 1 of the 2009 season), Miami likely isn’t there yet.
And rather than risk rushing Tua into the lineup for a season of punishment, letting him sit for at least the first half of the season and letting Fitzpatrick bridge does seem like the best option.
If you believe NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the battle is already over, and it’s Fitzpatrick’s job. He cites, among other things, that in Chan Gailey’s last 80 games as head coach or coordinator in the NFL, Fitzpatrick has been the starting quarterback in 72 of them. An important factoid as Gailey is Miami’s offensive coordinator.
What’s the Best Bet?
A bet on Tagovailoa is definitely a long shot, and looked a lot better at +325 than it does now, but it’s the best value bet of all three options.
I can’t help but recall a time when the Seattle Seahawks had their path to a pivot, signing Matt Flynn to big money only for him to lose a job to an unheralded rookie by the name of Russell Wilson.
Which is to say that betting on outright talent to shine through is never a bad option.
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