Despite benching him throughout the 2020 season, Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores has faith in quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
The Miami Dolphins fell just short of making the playoffs last season, but they showed they could be a force in the AFC for years to come. It certainly helps when they have a ton of cap space to bring in a variety of free agents and excess draft capital to bring in contributors on the cheap. However, the team’s success is dependent on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s progression in his sophomore season.
While speaking with NBC Sports’ Peter King for his latest “Football Morning in America” column, Flores says he is not looking at only Tagovailoa to improve heading into the 2021 season, stressing that he still has faith in the quarterback after being benched for veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick last season.
“I never like to put it on one player,” Flores said. “I think we’ve got a lot of young players, and we’re looking for all of those players as well as really everyone on our team to improve in a variety of ways. If they’re putting all the work in, I expect them to improve, get better, and perform better. Tua is obviously at the top of that list. He’s been working. All signs point to—or I would say based on my experience—he’s doing everything necessary to make some improvements. That’s really all we can ask for. My thing is if you put the work in, the results will take care of themselves.
“Last year’s situation is … we’ve talked about this numerous times. If he had started the season, we wouldn’t have pulled him. We put him in. We’re in a playoff chase. At that point [second half in game 15, at Las Vegas, when Ryan Fitzpatrick entered in relief], it’s hey, we’ve got to do whatever we’ve got to do to try to win. But no, my confidence wasn’t shaken in him.”
Dolphins: Brian Flores has lofty praise for Tua Tagovailoa
It has been no secret that the Dolphins have long coveted the former Alabama signal caller. Following the historic season by LSU’s Joe Burrow, Tagovailoa dropped to the Dolphins in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. While Tagovailoa did make his NFL debut midway through the season, the rookie did struggle at points.
Through 10 games, Tagovailoa completed 64.1 percent of his passes for 1,814 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. At some points, Tagovailoa was pulled in favor of Fitzpatrick. But as Flores mentioned in the quote above, those decisions were made because they were fighting tooth and nail for a win in the hopes of clinching a playoff berth. Despite the strategy, the Dolphins narrowly missed the playoffs.
Now, Tagovailoa is the undisputed starting quarterback for Miami, despite the team adding former Indianapolis Colts signal caller Jacoby Brissett. He will be leading the first-team offense in training camp. Plus, the Dolphins provided Tagovailoa with a plethora of help, from signing former Houston Texans wideout Will Fuller to selecting Alabama teammate Jaylen Waddle in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Flores has faith in Tagovailoa’s ability to lead the team to success in 2021 but does note that he would like to see improvements from him and the entire team as a whole.