Dolphins coordinator Gailey has ‘great’ feeling about Tua

  • Tribune News Service Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Chan Gailey anticipates quarterback Tua Tagovailoa “making good throws and good decisions in the run game and getting us to where we’re supposed to be, blocking wise. I expect him to play excellent.”

Here’s an incredible fact you might not get anywhere else:

Chan Gailey, who turns 69 in January, is in his 16th season as an NFL head coach or offensive coordinator.

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He’s coached John Elway and Troy Aikman and Kordell Stewart and Jay Fiedler and dozens of other quarterbacks — including Ryan Fitzpatrick in two different cities

But Sunday will be the first time in those 16 years he’ll be coaching a rookie quarterback making his first start.

So it’ll be uncharted waters for him, too.

But he is pretty confident with how Hawaii’s Tua Tagovailoa will perform.

“I think he’ll play great. That’s what you anticipate,” Gailey said Tuesday, five days ahead of Tagovailoa’s premiere at home against the Rams.

Gailey added that he anticipates Tagovaioa “making good throws and good decisions in the run game and getting us to where we’re supposed to be, blocking wise. I expect him to play excellent.”

If the Dolphins are planning wholesale changes to their offense with the quarterback switch, they’re doing a good job keeping those plans quiet.

But Gailey did say there will be subtle adjustments, particularly since the Dolphins are going from a right-handed quarterback to a southpaw.

In short, the playbook will be flipped at times.

“I would think that the No. 1 thing I would think about is if somebody tries to make a right-handed quarterback scramble, you want him to scramble to the left,” Gailey said, and added the reverse is true for lefties. “We practice things both left and right. It doesn’t change a lot for us. If we’ve had a bootleg that’s been to the right for Fitz, it’s been on Tua’s wristband every week that he runs it to the left. We practiced it both ways. Nothing really changes for us.”

As for chatter that Fitzpatrick might be on the trading block — we hear that such a move it unlikely, but presumably can’t be ruled out — Gailey would not speculate.

But he was asked about his thoughts on benching Fitzpatrick; they two men are quite close.

“I’m close with Fitz, but guess what, I like Tua,” Gailey said. “I like Tua a lot. I think he’s got a great future. I’m excited for him. We do what’s best for the football team all the time. That’s what we do. That’s where we are with this thing right now.”

Impressive and inquisitive.

Those are the takeaways of Dolphins defensive coaches in assessing what they’ve seen from Tagovailoa as he approaches his first NFL start.

Here’s what the Dolphins’ defensive coaches said Tuesday they have observed about him:

• Outside linebackers coach Austin Clark: “He’s a heck of a player and I’m fired up to see him Sunday.”

• Linebackers coach Anthony Campanile, on what stands out about him: “”Great leadership qualities. Very good athlete, a guy that guys enjoy playing with. I’m seeing a lot of great qualities to be honest with you. He’s always a very inquisitive guy and really a great kid. He has a great way about him. I think everybody in the building feels that way.”

• Defensive backs coach Gerald Alexander: “There was a reason he was drafted in the first round. He has great skill. I’m looking forward to seeing what he will do for us.”

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Alexander said Tagovailoa hasn’t picked his brain because “I might be low on Tua’s totem poll.”

Beasley and Jackson write for the Miami Herald

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