Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has officially been diagnosed with a concussion, coach Mike McDaniel said Wednesday.
Miami’s third-year quarterback completed Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers without showing behavior or signs that would cause him to enter the NFL’s concussion protocol, but on Monday, McDaniel noted Tagovailoa entered protocol after exhibiting symptoms at team facilities Monday.
Up until Wednesday morning, Tagovailoa had not been known to have sustained a concussion but only was said to be examined for one, as of Monday.
The NFL and NFL Players Association began a joint review of how concussion protocol was handled in checking Tagovailoa.
“A joint NFL-NFLPA review of the application of the concussion protocol involving Miami Dolphins’ quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is now underway,” a league spokesperson said in a statement. “We welcome that review, and as we have done previously, we will report the results in conjunction with the NFLPA.”
McDaniel said veteran Teddy Bridgewater will start Sunday at New England in a critical game as both teams are fighting for the playoffs.
“Moving forward and the team’s whole approach is Teddy Bridgewater is the starter,” McDaniel said. “I met with Teddy [Tuesday] and we were exchanging ideas and talking through some stuff all the way until 10:15 and then it was his bedtime.”
The concussion is at least Tagovailoa’s second this season after missing two games following the Sept. 29 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals when he was hospitalized after lying motionless on the field and being taken off the field on a stretcher. Observers also question if he sustained a concussion four days earlier, on Sept. 25, when he was woozy and stumbled following a blow to the head in a win over the Buffalo Bills.
McDaniel did not specifically point to the fall that caused Tagovailoa’s head to bounce off the ground late in the first half Sunday, in video that has circulated across social media since the game, but he clarified that coaches urged Tagovailoa to check with doctors Monday upon reviewing film to begin the quarterback’s concussion examination.
“Once we get some information back, we’re like, ‘You need to go see the see the doctor,’ ” McDaniel said. “So to say, with absolute certainty, that it was this, that or otherwise; it was just there were some things that caused us to really prod and, as a result, we felt like he needed to see medical professionals.”
McDaniel, while saying Tagovailoa was at team facilities Wednesday and doing better than he was Tuesday, said the Dolphins are taking the diagnosis extremely seriously and are doing whatever they can to ensure he has a healthy recovery.
“I’ve been advised by medical professionals that it’s critical that Tua worries only about the day that he’s currently in and nothing else,” McDaniel said. “He is in the building, but beyond that, as medical professionals will tell you, any added pressure or anything beyond that day does not behoove the process at all. So, I’ll take that very serious and worry about his health first and foremost and take the advice of medical professionals.”
The Dolphins (8-7), having lost four consecutive games and barely holding on to the final AFC wild-card spot, go into the pivotal divisional matchup in Foxborough leaning on their backup quarterback. They are assured of clinching a playoff spot if they win their final two games against the Patriots (7-8) and New York Jets. However, they can clinch a postseason berth Sunday with a win against the Patriots and a Jets loss in Seattle. New England must win its last two games to clinch a wild-card berth.
Tagovailoa also may miss next week’s season finale against the Jets.
Bridgewater was counted on to finish the game in Cincinnati in Week 4, started the following week’s loss to the Jets before being disqualified by a concussion spotter after the first play and played in relief of fellow quarterback Skylar Thompson in the Week 6 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
“Every time you go out there, it’s an opportunity just to learn different things about your teammates and yourself,” Bridgewater said of gaining chemistry with receivers. “We practice throughout the week. We throw routes on air. You get a good feel for the guys. You just want to apply it to the games.”
Players, like star receiver Tyreek Hill, are confident in Bridgewater, with 64 career starts under his belt, handling the situation.
“You remember my comment from earlier [this season] when I said I can put up numbers with anybody? That still stands,” Hill said. “All of the guys got chemistry with Teddy. He just brings that veteran presence that we all kind of need. I even need it sometimes. Just to have another guy in the huddle giving me confidence, giving us confidence. Just having Teddy is going to be fine.”
Said Jaylen Waddle: “Teddy B is going to be himself out the huddle, in the huddle, just around. [He’s] a great leader.”
McDaniel did not say what stage of the league’s five-step protocol to return to play Tagovailoa is currently in. He declined to delve into specifics on his upcoming medical outlook.
“This is a private time for him to focus on his health and that’s all I really want to get into,” McDaniel said. “I’ll do what the medical experts advise me to do, and I’m quite certain they’re not going to advise me in the wrong direction when it has to do with his health.”