Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was diagnosed with a concussion and ruled out for Sunday’s game at New England with a playoff spot on the line.
If the Dolphins (8-7) beat the Patriots (7-8) behind backup Teddy Bridgewater, and the New York Jets lose to the Seahawks at Seattle, Miami would earn an AFC wild-card spot and end a five-year playoff drought.
Head coach Mike McDaniel confirmed the official diagnosis on Wednesday, adding that Tagovailoa would focus solely on his health. He was not removed from last week’s loss to the Green Bay Packers, and the NFL absolved in-person concussion spotters and the Miami coaching staff for not identifying the issue during live action.
Per NFL Network, league chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said Tuesday that Tagovailoa exhibited zero injury behaviors and reported zero symptoms “that would have triggered the (league’s concussion) protocol.”
The network also reported the NFL Players Association will again investigate the handling of Tagovailoa’s injury. The NFL and NFLPA jointly investigated Tagovailoa’s previous head injury sustained during the Dolphins’ game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 29.
“The step-by-step process outlined in the concussion protocol was followed, the outcome in this case was not what was intended,” the NFL and NFLPA said in a joint statement on Oct. 8.
The league then announced changes to the protocol.
A modified protocol added the term “ataxia” to the list of mandatory “no-go” symptoms. Ataxia is defined as an abnormality of balance or stability, motor coordination or dysfunctional speech caused by a neurological issue.
McDaniel wouldn’t divulge additional details on Tagovailoa’s latest injury on Wednesday, including whether he could be available next week against the Jets.
“This is a private time for him to focus on his health and that’s all I really want to get into,” McDaniel said. “This is a human being. His health is the first, foremost and only priority.”
McDaniel said he became concerned with Tagovailoa’s health after watching film of the loss to the Packers. At that point, the team pushed Tagovailoa to meet with team doctors.
“There were some things that caused us to really prod,” he said.
McDaniel said it’s “terrible” to see Tagovailoa in concussion protocol for a second time this season. Tagovailoa said in October that he completely lost consciousness and doesn’t recall being transported on a backboard by ambulance to a Cincinnati hospital after a hit from Bengals nose tackle Josh Tupou.
One game later, the Dolphins started Bridgewater against the Jets but had to insert seventh-round rookie Skylar Thompson on the second drive due to Bridgewater being diagnosed with a concussion.
The Dolphins have lost four consecutive games and hit the road for the fourth time in five weeks. Miami defeated the Patriots 20-7 in Week 1.
“Moving forward today, Teddy Bridgewater is the starter,” McDaniel said on Wednesday.
–Field Level Media