Tua Tagovailoa entered the NFL last season with high expectations placed on his shoulders after going to the Miami Dolphins with the No. 5 pick in the 2020 draft. But, like any rookie might, the former Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback had his growing pains.
Even so, he never lost the trust of Brian Flores.
Tagovailoa went 6-3 as the Dolphins starter in 2020, but was pulled mid-game twice for veteran back-up Ryan Fitzpatrick. The 38-year-old led Miami to a victory in one of those contests and nearly picked up two wins.
However, just because Flores chose to pull his rookie quarterback, doesn't indicate a more glaring issue in Miami. The Dolphins head coach explained that he did whatever he thought was best to win games down the stretch with the AFC East club still in the playoff picture.
"Last year’s situation is . . . we’ve talked about this numerous times,” Flores told Peter King in Football Morning in America. “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, 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."
Flores will need to continue to show confidence in his young quarterback if the Dolphins hope for improvement in year two. Although Tagovailoa was able to post a winning record in his nine starts, he didn't appear to be firing on cylinders in Miami's offense. The Dolphins hope that adding the Alabama quarterback's former wide receiver, Jaylen Waddle, will help open the team's passing game in 2021.
In 10 appearances, Tagovailoa threw for 1,814 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions, while completing 64.2 percent of his passes. He added 109 yards and three scores on the ground.
With plenty of time left in the offseason, Flores and Tagovailoa will surely be busy at work for the rest of the summer.