The Miami Dolphins are fighting for their playoff lives and the status of starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is going to make that battle even tougher. Just a few weeks ago they seemed like a shoo-in for one of the Wild Card spots, potentially even catching the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East divisional race. But, a five-game losing streak has them on the outside looking in of the postseason.
Miami is going to need some help this weekend if they want that final Wild Card spot. The New England Patriots need to lose their game to the Buffalo Bills, who are dealing with things beyond the game of football as they await updates on their teammate and brother, Damar Hamlin, who suffered a cardiac arrest on Monday Night Football.
In addition to a Patriots loss, the Dolphins have to defeat the New York Jets. That task became tougher as they will be doing it without starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Head coach Mike McDaniel shared that Tagovailoa remains without a timeline to return from concussion protocol and the team isn’t even factoring him into their plans for Week 18. It will be either Teddy Bridgewater or Skylar Thompson under center for Miami on Sunday afternoon.
“I haven’t even thought about [Tagovailoa’s] playing status. It’s about him getting healthy each and every day,” McDaniel said. “And so I can’t really even factor him into any sort of equation until we’re ready to broach that. It’s just really a situation of, at this point in the week — Monday and Tuesday game prep — I’ll be preparing for both Skylar and Teddy, and then proceed as the week progresses.”
This was the same situation that the Dolphins were facing in their first matchup with the Jets this season. Tagovailoa had suffered his first documented concussion the previous week and was not able to suit up. Bridgewater was injured on the first play of the game, forcing the rookie Thompson into the lineup.
McDaniel is operating under the advice that was given to him by medical professionals last week. They urged him to make sure Tagovailoa remains focused on the current day and not anything else.
“Specifically as mandated, I haven’t had a discussion with Tua about when he’s playing,” McDaniel said. “Because again, the picture was painted very … from his head coach to the player, no timeline has been discussed with intent.
“It is a day-to-day process really that, that is most important that we adhere to. And that’s just getting him better each and every day and getting him healthy as a person. So I don’t really have a timeline, unfortunately.”
Given the gruesome head injuries that Tagovailoa has suffered this season, it is hard to imagine that he will be suiting up again in the coming weeks. His long-term health needs to be taken into consideration as two of the head injuries he suffered came in such a short period of time.
While that could ultimately cost the Dolphins their chance at making the playoffs this season, Tua Tagovailoa’s well-being should be paramount and trump anything else.