The pressure is on Tua Tagovailoa, and he has already been given the ammunition he needs to be a success this season.
It was a difficult rookie year for Tua, who found himself in and out as a Miami Dolphins starter.
Ryan Fitzpatrick enjoyed one of his most consistent seasons in his long career, offering a safe option for Brian Flores to fall back on.
Though, in truth ‘safe’ is not the right word. It was Tua who was safe…too safe.
The rookie QB didn’t trust himself to throw into tight pressure and too often missed opportunities by playing safe and failing to look downfield.
Fitzpatrick, on the other hand, took those risks and took the Dolphins to within a win of the playoffs.
This year, Fitzpatrick is not there to fall back on, Jacoby Brissett replacing him as the Fins’ back-up QB, but for Tua, it’s all or nothing in any case.
It might be early in the 23-year-old’s career, but after a disappointing rookie campaign, he knows he must perform in 2021.
Why? The Dolphins have already made it clear they want to succeed now, getting involved in early trade talks for Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson.
That ship quickly sailed given the allegations against Watson and the lack of clarity whether he will end up on the commissioner’s exempt list or worse.
But the Dolphins were involved in talks, and that gives Tua a big point to prove, something all of the best QBs in this game seem to need.
From Tom Brady to Aaron Rodgers, they all find something to use, setting off on a mission to prove people wrong and deny the odds on places like sidelines.io/nfl/odds each year, even if that something is a creation of their own.
And so the Watson trade talk should be seen as a freebie rather than an insult for Tua, something to take advantage of.
Not only that, but he now has the weapons to enjoy a much better season.
Flores has already built a playoff calibre defense that has to be taken advantage of, while the reemergence of Devante Parker and the addition of rookie wide-receiver Jaylen Waddle puts pressure on the offense to take an almighty step forward this coming season.
Tua must lead that offense, take smart chances in key moments and show he is the QB everyone thought he was before that horrific hip injury in college.
It might just be now or never for Tua in Miami and his make or break season gets going when the Dolphins take on the Patriots in New England on September 12.