After Benching, Tua Tagovailoa Shows He’s a Team-First Guy

Miami Dolphins rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was surprisingly benched in favor of veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick during the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s loss to the Denver Broncos. The Dolphins had a chance to tie the game on the final drive, but Fitzpatrick was intercepted in the end zone. Tagovailoa, who remains the team’s starter, showed Sunday that he certainly puts the team first.

Tua Tagovailoa was brought along slowly

RELATED: Tua Tagovailoa Has the Perfect Mentor in Ryan Fitzpatrick

Tua Tagovailoa was drafted by the Miami Dolphins with the fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. While he came to Miami after a very impressive career at Alabama, he wasn’t thrown into the fire. Head coach Brian Flores brought him along slowly as Tagovailoa watched veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick from the sidelines during the first six games of the 2020 season.

The Dolphins were viewed by many as not having much of a chance for reaching the postseason this year. Fitzpatrick was a bridge quarterback and a mentor for Tagovailoa. The Dolphins struggled out of the gate, losing three of their first four games.

Miami then put together wins over the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Jets to climb even at 3-3. After Fitzpatrick guided the Dolphins to those victories, Flores, right before his team’s bye week, announced Tagovailoa would start Week 8 against the Los Angeles Rams. Although his numbers haven’t been strong, Tagovailoa led the Dolphins to three straight wins. They suffered their first loss under the rookie quarterback last week at Denver in a game that Tagovailoa was benched late.

Tagovailoa doubtful to play Sunday

While Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores has said Tua Tagovailoa remains the team’s starting quarterback, he is unlikely to play Sunday against the New York Jets. It has nothing to do with his performance in last week’s loss to the Denver Broncos. Tagovailoa jammed his thumb on a teammate’s helmet in practice this week.

The incident happened Wednesday and there was speculation whether or not the injury would prevent him from starting Sunday. Flores wouldn’t speculate. “I can’t say specifically for Tua or any player on exactly what they can play through or not play though,” Flores said, according to ESPN. “I know he’s a tough kid. He wants to play, and we’ll see how this goes.”

The Dolphins brought up rookie practice-squad quarterback Reid Sinnett to the active roster for the first time this season. That likely would mean Tagovailia would be inactive for the game. He is listed as doubtful as Ryan Fitzpatrick gets his starting job back, at least for now.

Tagovailoa showed he’s a team-first player

Much of the talk surrounding the Miami Dolphins’ loss to the Denver Broncos last week wasn’t about the fact the Dolphins just saw their five-game win streak snapped. It was about quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Was he hurt? Why wasn’t he playing in the fourth quarter? Was he already benched?

Tagovailoa was replaced by veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick in hopes of making a late rally. Tagovailoa didn’t play well and Flores made a change. During the week, there were questions on whether or not Tagovailoa would be looking over his shoulder now, wondering if he’ll get benched when he doesn’t play well. “For me,” Tagovailoa told The Miami Herald, “there’s no looking behind me, or to the left or to the right. It’s what I can do to help our guys to be successful.”

After Sunday’s benching, Tagovailoa said he understands doing what’s best for the team is the way to go. “My thoughts were, whatever was going to be best for the team,” Tagovailoa said, according to CBS Sports. “When I was in, we couldn’t really get things going and Coach felt like it was the best decision to put ‘Fitz’ in to give us a spark. When I heard that — it’s really what’s best for the team.”