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Tua Tagovailoa was scheduled for tests on his rib cage after leaving the Miami Dolphins 35-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, and the team fears the starting quarterback may have muscle or cartilage damage that would keep him out of the lineup for weeks.
The best-case scenario would be for an MRI to show Tagovailoa suffered a mild intercostal muscle strain, which commonly heals within a few days.
But more moderate strains can take between 3-6 weeks to heal.
If Tagovailoa suffered a mild case of bruised ribs, he might be able to play within a couple of weeks.
And the worst-case scenario is that Tagovailoa suffered cartilage damage between his ribs, in which case he could miss between 8-12 weeks.
[Update: Tagovailoa suffered bruised ribs, per an NFL source. His status for Sunday remains uncertain.]
The point is the Dolphins’ starting quarterback situation is uncertain for now. And the feeling in the Miami locker room after the Buffalo loss was dire: “Like a funeral,” cornerback Xavien Howard said.
And that suggests a logical fix.
No, not Jacoby Brissett. The Dolphins will almost certainly turn to Brissett if Tagovailoa is unavailable, as they did against the Bills.
But that wasn’t the solution on Sunday and probably wouldn’t be a long-term fix for a team with designs on making the playoffs.
The solution is general manager Chris Grier calling Houston general manager Nick Caserio Monday morning and offering him those three first-round draft picks that Caserio covets in exchange for trading quarterback Deshaun Watson.
This just in: Watson is still in a great amount of legal trouble. Just google it.
But the Dolphins are now in a great amount of football trouble. Their quarterback, often injured at Alabama, is now injured for the second time in two seasons with them.
And even if Tagovailoa finds a way to regain his health without missing games, he would face a Las Vegas Raiders defense that hit Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger 10 times and sacked him twice on Sunday.
Also this: Tagovailoa was outplayed by former Alabama teammate and New England rookie Mac Jones in the regular-season opener.
So the durability questions combined with the uncertainty about Tagovailoa’s level of play demand another run at Watson.
The price will be high. Because Houston actually wants more than just three first-rounders over the next three years. It also wants other considerations.
But giving up picks, including three first-rounders, isn’t quite what it might seem for Miami, which has burned more first-round picks than anyone on players not anywhere close to Watson’s ability.
The Dolphins’ last six first-round picks are defensive lineman Christian Wilkins, Tagovailoa, offensive tackle Austin Jackson, cornerback Noah Igbinoghene, receiver Jaylen Waddle and linebacker Jaelan Phillips.
Who would not give up some — and probably all — those first-round players for Watson? Waiting.
The Dolphins value first-round picks as much as any team. But when they employ their first-round picks, they have not been hitting home runs with the selections lately.
So what’s the point of keeping picks if they’re not going to be great?
And, again, Watson is in a legal mess. But ESPN has reported he would likely not be suspended for this season, barring an indictment connected to 10 criminal complaints against him for sexual misconduct of various types against women who were hired to provide massages.
That legal uncertainty has so far kept all teams, including the Dolphins, from stretching themselves to offer enough to get Watson.
Miami’s choice now is to weigh that Watson legal uncertainty versus Tagovailoa’s uncertain durability and ability.
Some other Monday morning NFL perspectives:
Titans’ comeback victory says what?
This team either beat the law of averages and we won’t be seeing this again for a long time, or they found something within themselves that potentially has lasting effects.
The Titans were down 30-16 with 13 minutes to play against the Seattle Seahawks and that’s it, right? Over.
Because the Titans aren’t built for comebacks and history has proven it.
That history shows Tennessee lost 62 straight games in which they were down 14-points or more in the fourth quarter. The last time the Titans authored a fourth-quarter comeback after facing a two-touchdown deficit was 2006 when a Vince Young-led squad overcame a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit against the New York Giants.
But on Sunday evening, the Titans scrambled to victory by running the football.
Running back Derrick Henry had a 60-yard run and a 1-yard run with 32 seconds to play to tie the score. And in overtime, the Titans ran Henry four consecutive plays starting from the Seattle 39-yard line to set up a winning FG.
Henry totaled 237 scrimmage yards (182 rushing, 55 receiving) to join Jim Brown, LaDainian Tomlinson and Barry Sanders with at least 10 games of 150 rushing yards and two rushing TDs.
So what did coach Mike Vrabel find out about his team?
“I found out that they’re willing to compete, willing to battle and fight,” Vrabel said.
“Last week, we didn’t play to our standards, and that was on us,” Henry said of the season-opening blowout loss to Arizona. “I don’t think anybody expected us to come out here and get a W … I’m glad we came out here and got a win.”
Tom Brady on pace to be better than ever
Tom Brady was 30 years old in 2007 when he authored his best NFL season on a New England team that was undefeated through the regular season and postseason until a Super Bowl loss.
Well, Brady is now 44 and on a better pace than the one he set in that 2007 season.
Brady threw five TD passes against Atlanta Sunday and now has nine TDs with two interceptions through two games. He had six TDs and one interception after two games in 2007.
Brady had 576 passing yards the first two games of 2007 and has 655 passing yards through two games this season.
Brady obviously maintained his amazing pace throughout the entire ’07 season, but he’s on a pretty good streak now in that he’s had four consecutive games dating back to last season in which he’s thrown at least four touchdown passes.
“I know I can play better,” Brady said. “I can make some better throws. I had some more opportunities today to make some throws and missed [Antonio Brown] a few times, had some other reads I should have done a better job on, but we’ll keep working at it, keep getting in football shape, get used to the heat a little bit.”
So how far has Brady come in the Tampa Bay offense since last year?
“It’s light years,” coach Bruce Arians said. “I mean, he didn’t know the plays last year. I mean, he knows them all now. So that’s pretty good.”
Zack Moss shows his resolve
The Bills showed perseverance after losing their season-opener and then coming back to beat the Dolphins in Week 2, but somehow the team effort pales in comparison to what running back Zack Moss did in scoring two touchdowns against the Dolphins.
Raiders have beaten two legit teams. Derek Carr has 817 passing yards in those two games.
Derek Carr is not in the company of Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady, right?
Well, that hasn’t mattered the last two weeks because he’s arguably been the most clutch quarterback in the entire NFL.
On Sunday, Carr threw a 61-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to give his team a nine-point lead. When the Steelers cut that to six points, Carr engineered a field goal drive to seal the game.
There was 3:42 to play when the Raiders got the ball before that field goal. The drive took 3:32 off the clock.
“I just let his performance speak for itself,” coach Jon Gruden said. “I’ve been clamoring about Derek Carr since I’ve been here. Hopefully he gets some recognition for doing what he did today. He had some long drives, he was big again at the end of the game against two great defense two weeks in a row. And that’s why we’ve been able to win.”