He’s a developing talent, a popular teammate, a tough-minded quarterback who tested just fine in his career cameos.
Mike White fits that way as the Miami Dolphins most important signing this offseason.
He’s a hometown name, a local sensation, a Pembroke Pines kid who grew up a few miles from the stadium he’ll now play.
White coming home works in that warm-hearted way, too.
Finally — and this is important — no one outside White’s family and friends got overly excited about him signing Monday with the Dolphins. He’s not Tom Brady or even Jimmy Garoppolo, who were among those loudly reported to be Dolphins targets in ways that threatened the cocoon of confidence built around Tua Tagovailoa.
There’s nothing loud about White’s signing. He isn’t even a veteran starter like Teddy Bridgewater, who kick-started a national debate last offseason on if he was better than Tagovailoa upon his signing. White brings no debate with him. Even the former New York Jets fan base that considered him a savior for two eye-batting weeks paid scant attention while toe-tapping impatiently for the arrival of Aaron Rodgers.
Can White save the Dolphins season if it falls on the backup again? That’s the real question considering the real concern over Tagovailoa’s health.
The answer: You trust Mike McDaniel if you’re a Dolphins fan. That’s why he’s here. He solved Tagovailoa last year. He must think White fits this system, too. You don’t have to be overly excited about this signing any more than if the Dolphins got Andy Dalton, Gardner Minshew, Baker Mayfield or any of the full shelf of second-tier of quarterbacks out there.
White has played in eight NFL games. He’s started seven, including four last season with the Jets. That’s not much of a simple size and even that is truncated by injury. White started in December wins while passing for 315 yards against Chicago and 368 yards against Minnesota. He then was sacked hard enough to break a rib against Buffalo and gutted out his way through that and another loss.
That’s really all there is go on beyond the perseverance of his football journey. That shows who he is. His high-school coach at the University School in Davie, Roger Harriott, points to White’s transfer in college after an unfortunate coaching change at South Florida turned a passing system into a running one.
“His transition from USF to Western Kentucky showed his resilient spirit and ability to make the most of an adverse circumstance by leading his team to a conference championship, bowl win and setting passing records.,” said Harriott, now the St. Thomas Aquinas coach. “He thrives through challenging transitions.”
It’s clear why White wanted to come to the Dolphins. It’s home. It’s a great system for a quarterback with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle running wide open most Sundays last year. He also got a two-year, $16 million contract where there’s the real possibility of a playing opportunity.
Tagovailoa hasn’t played a full season going back to college. His two — probably three — concussions remain a serious concern. That’s why he’s taking jiu-jitsu to learn how to fall properly and why so much conversation has been around this position.
The Dolphins played nice in picking up Tagovailoa’s fifth-year option on his contract. That seems as much about that cocoon of confidence as anything. If Tagovailoa has a big season, that option will be ripped up and he’ll sign a mega-contract. If he suffers more concussions, the Dolphins will have to start all over at quarterback.
They’re pushing all their chips to the middle of the table that says it’s this year or bust. Vic Fangio, the star of a defensive coordinator, was made the highest-paid NFL assistant. Star cornerback Jalen Ramsey was purchased more than traded for from the Los Angeles Rams.
Monday brought the quieter signing of White. But let’s be clear: There won’t be a more important signing this offseason. The season could fall to him. You hope for Tagovailoa’s sake it doesn’t. You trust McDaniel’s decision if it does.
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Author: Amnon Jakony |
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