MIAMI GARDENS — Backup quarterback might be the most important No. 2 job on the Dolphins’ roster, considering Tua Tagovailoa’s tendency to miss playing time.
Between Skylar Thompson and Mike White, the Dolphins need to find a reliable backup behind Tagovailoa, who missed 5 1/2 games last year.
Coach Mike McDaniel said he’ll announce his backup quarterback decision Monday.
I’ll announce mine now.
The backup should be Thompson, the one they had on the roster all along.
Thompson is better than White.
Thompson, last year’s seventh-round pick, has shown that during OTAs and minicamp, and he’s shown that during training camp. And although he didn’t necessarily show he’s the better quarterback during preseason games, Thompson would be my No. 2 quarterback for the Dolphins.
But I thought Thompson ran the offense better during training camp. I also thought Thompson threw better passes and made better decisions.
Yes, Thompson struggled last season. He appeared in seven games, making five starts. He was 60 of 105 for 534 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions and a 62.2 passer rating. He completed 57.1% of his passes and was sacked six times.
And, yes, Thompson struggled in his wild-card start at Buffalo. But he’s a year older and a year more seasoned.
You could argue McDaniel’s decision is incomplete, considering White spent the final week of training camp in concussion protocol after only playing a few snaps in the second preseason game at Houston and not playing at all in the preseason finale at Jacksonville.
But White, the University School and Western Kentucky alum who joined the Dolphins as a free agent from the New York Jets, is out of concussion protocol.
White made four starts for the Jets last season and went 103 for 175 for 1,192 yards, five touchdowns, eight interceptions and a 75.1 passer rating. He completed 58.8% of his passes and was sacked four times. He earned courage points last season for playing with broken ribs.
The thing is, White, who had a 2-5 record as a starter in two seasons for the Jets, didn’t seem to have that “it” factor when he was on the field.
Thompson didn’t either, but I felt it with Thompson more than White.
Understand that just because a decision is made Monday, it won’t have to last the entire season. Perhaps White performs well enough in practice and the classroom to take the No. 2 job in Week 4 or whatever.
But right now, Thompson should get the job.
And again, backup quarterback is the most important of the Dolphins’ backups, considering Tagovailoa’s propensity for injuries.
Of course, that “most important” title might be relative to how many games left tackle Terron Armstead misses. But for now we’ll stick with backup quarterback being the Dolphins’ No. 1 backup job.
Backup left tackle is No. 2 on the list of most important Dolphins backups, followed by backup right tackle, No. 4 cornerback (the backup in the nickel package) and No. 3 edge rusher (backup to starters Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb).
Kendall Lamm is probably the backup left and right tackle, rookie Cam Smith is likely the No. 4 cornerback, and Andrew Van Ginkel is probably the No. 3 edge rusher.
I trust the Dolphins’ depth. It got them to the playoffs last year.
I also trust Thompson to go .500 for, say, a four-game stretch.
You can’t realistically ask for much more from a backup.
On a side note, the Dolphins should also have all three quarterbacks available each game.
The memories of last year’s difficulties, when Tagovailoa, backup Teddy Bridgewater and Thompson were all knocked out of games due to injuries, should still be fresh in everyone’s minds.
If the Dolphins enter a game with two quarterbacks next season, they deserve whatever fate they get, including having wide receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr., who would likely serve as the No. 3 quarterback for the second consecutive season, play meaningful snaps.
My preference for a backup quarterback was someone with experience, and preferably playoff experience. Bridgewater, now with Detroit, wasn’t going to return to the Dolphins, but he fit the bill. Andy Dalton, now with Carolina, would have fit the bill.
By the way, there’s no harm to kicking White’s tires. Yeah, he’s guaranteed $4 million, but you simply add that to the cost of doing business, consider yourself lucky to have two decent backup quarterbacks, and move on to the next concern.
Last season showed there’s a chance both Thompson and White will play this season.
The Dolphins must hope whichever backup quarterback plays, it’s not for an extended period.
Of course, that’s the case with most backups.
If the Dolphins’ backup quarterback must play, however, Thompson should be under center.