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Tua Tracker: How did NFL experts, analysts grade Dolphins QB Tagovailoa vs. the Raiders?

Dan Rorabaugh
Palm Beach Post

Did Santa deliver a quarterback controversy to Brian Flores and the Miami Dolphins?

Tua Tagovailoa was replaced midgame for Ryan Fitzpatrick on Saturday night against the Las Vegas Raiders. Tua was 17 of 22 for 94 yards and a touchdown, adding 11 yards on three carries.

It was the second time this season the No. 5 overall NFL Draft pick was pulled. This time, Fitzpatrick came out victorious, going 9 of 13 for 182 yards and a TD in one of the most improbable wins anywhere this season.

Flores said after the game Tua will still start in next week's regular-season finale vs. the Buffalo Bills. But should he switch to FitzMagic? NFL experts and analysts on social media weighed in.

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Tempered expectations for Tua

Before the game, the NFL Network analysts talked up the importance of the other Dolphins stepping up around Tagovailoa. Steve Smith Sr. said Tua needs to learn to step up in the pocket and be more willing to throw the ball away when a play isn't there. Tua was sacked three times in his final three possessions — all three-and-outs. (Smith also predicted Tua would throw for 300 yards.)

In a prerecorded interview, Steve Wyche asked Tagovailoa about his benching against Denver, when the rookie went 11 of 20 for 83 yards and a TD.

Miami native Michael Irvin said Tua will have to plays some plays if the Dolphins want to make any noise in the playoffs.

Another so-so start for Tua

Tagovailoa got out to a start that's becoming all too familiar with Dolphins fans. He was 10 of 13 for 45 yards in the first half with only one pass that went at least 10 yards in the air, according to Amazon's AWS. 

Some reporters brought up the Dolphins' lack of quality targets, a common refrain in preaching patience.

Some put blame on the coaching staff.

But that wasn't flying with everyone, especially with Myles Gaskin looking sharp in his return.

Tua critics come out strong

It wasn't looking good in the first half, but once the third quarter rolled on and the Dolphins offense looked even more stagnant, the anti-Tua sentiment got stronger than it has all season.

Tagovailoa's tendency to get away with throwing interceptable balls that defenders couldn't bring in caught fire.

Former NFL lineman and current Fox Sports analyst Geoff Schwartz has been a vocal critic of Tua's development. And he was not having it with Tua supporters in his mentions Saturday night.

But Schwartz did not have the strongest words against Tagovailoa on Saturday. That honor went to CBS' Pete Prisco, who flat-out said the Dolphins made a mistake drafting him.

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FitzMagic strikes again

The greatest stunner came after Tua came off the field after his third straight three-and-out. Ryan Fitzpatrick stepped in and put up two incredible drives, including what might be the play of the year.

NFL observers largely lauded the call to pull the rookie, showing excitement at what Fitzpatrick could offer.

Some still thought taking Tua out was a bad move.

And NFL Network's Rich Eisen just had jokes.

Schwartz had one last point for supporting Tua, brought up by NFL Network's in-game analyst and former NFL MVP Kurt Warner.

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