Tua Tagovailoa Made Some Intriguing Comments About the Dolphins’ Playbook, and Head Coach Brian Flores Responded

The Miami Dolphins are committed to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, at least for the time being.

Barring an injury, Tagovailoa is expected to be the Dolphins’ full-time starting quarterback during the 2021 season. But the young signal-caller still has some thoughts on his rookie campaign, and he made some significant comments that head coach Brian Flores needed to address.

Brian Flores defended Tua Tagovailoa after some intriguing comments

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (L) and head coach Brian Flores in 2020.
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores had a firm response after quarterback Tua Tagovailoa made some intriguing comments about the team’s playbook | Mark Brown/Getty Images

Honesty is the best policy, at least in Tua Tagovailoa’s eyes.

During a recent press conference, the second-year quarterback admitted he didn’t feel comfortable calling plays as a rookie. He also acknowledged that he “didn’t actually know the playbook necessarily really, really good” in his first season.

Were those comments a veiled shot at former Dolphins offensive coordinator Chan Gailey? Was the admission something that the front office should be concerned about entering his second year? 

According to The Palm Beach Post, head coach Brian Flores didn’t place his quarterback’s comments in either category. Flores explained that he thought Tagovailoa was simply comparing and contrasting his progression as a quarterback.

“So I think contextually, I think we all understand where he’s coming from. I think he’s thinking about where he is right now versus last year, and that’s good. This time is about reflection and where you are now versus where you were six months ago. I think he’s worked hard to improve in a lot of areas. And I think he’s communicated that.”

Brian Flores

Flores noted he took a similar mental approach following the 2019 season, his first year leading the Dolphins.

Tagovailoa didn’t exactly have a disastrous rookie season

The worst thing about Tagovailoa’s rookie season? He wasn’t Joe Burrow or Justin Herbert, two other quarterbacks selected among the 2021 NFL draft’s first six picks.

In 10 games and nine starts, the former Alabama star quarterback completed 64.1% of his passes for 1,814 yards, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions. He also ran for three touchdowns. Those would be acceptable numbers for a rookie quarterback in most years, especially one whose final college season ended early because of a hip injury.

Unfortunately for Tua, he went one pick ahead of Herbert, who shredded defenses for 4,336 yards and 31 touchdowns in 15 starts for the Los Angeles Chargers. Elsewhere, Burrow completed 65.3% of his passes for 2,688 yards, 13 touchdowns, and five interceptions in 10 starts for the Bengals before he tore his ACL in November.

Because Tagovailoa went through growing pains as a rookie, it became easy to already call him a “bust” or propose the Dolphins trade him for Deshaun Watson. Who knows what the modern mainstream media would have suggested after Peyton Manning threw 28 interceptions as a rookie in 1998?

Tagovailoa will have plenty of chances to silence the doubters this fall

The Miami Dolphins have tied their immediate future to Tagovailoa, especially with Watson’s legal problems looming in Houston.

The Dolphins finished just shy of reaching the postseason last year, and Ryan Fitzpatrick is now in Washington. A talented Dolphins team now belongs to Tagovailoa, who will play the entire 2021 season at 23 years old.

If Tagovailoa takes the second-year jump that he certainly is capable of doing, the Dolphins could find themselves in the postseason for the first time since 2016. And in a situation where Tagovailoa doesn’t live up to the hype, the Dolphins have Jacoby Brissett ready and waiting in the wings.

Ideally, for the Dolphins, that first scenario will be their reality in 2021 and beyond. It all starts with a quarterback who, at least for now, is willing to admit his faults and prepare for better days.

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