Flores on Pulling Tua: Team Needed a Spark
The decision to pull rookie Tua Tagovailoa in the fourth quarter of the Miami Dolphins loss against the Denver Broncos certainly was eye-opening, but head coach Brian Flores said there was a simple reason.
The Dolphins offense was struggling and needed a spark.
Despite being sacked six times and being on the injury report this week with a foot injury, the move was not injury-related.
"We just felt like it was the best move at that point in the game," Flores said after the Dolphins' 20-13 loss at Empower Field at Mile High ended the team's five-game winning streak. "We had to get in two-minute mode and we just felt like he gave us the best chance to win the game, which we had an opportunity at the end — to tie it, I should say."
Flores made clear the move was made for this game only and that Tua would start against the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium next Sunday.
It was the first NFL setback for Tua, who had won his first three starts and was looking to join Ben Roethlisberger as the only quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era to win their first four career starts.
Flores said he had no concerns about the switch affecting Tua's confidence.
“He’s a confident kid," Flores said. "No, not at all. He's dealt with a lot of adversity. He's a confident kid. I think he’s fine.”
Before being pulled, Tagovailoa was 11-for-20 for 83 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions, though he had a pick overturned by a defensive penalty.
Fitzpatrick was 12-for-18 for 117 yards in less than a quarter of action, though he did have the game-clinching interception by safety Jason Simmons.
Fitzpatrick said after the game his role was not changing.
“It’s very clear this is Tua’s team," Fitzpatrick said. "Tua is going to continue to get better and grow. For me, my defined role right now is whatever Coach Flo or whatever the team needs out of me. Today was different than the last few weeks in that he needed me to get out there and try to move the ball and provide a spark. But the few weeks before that it really was just full support mode on Tua. And even in a game like Tua when I’m out there, I’m still talking with Tua on the sideline and we’re going through stuff and trying to get him to see what I’m seeing and why I’m doing the things I’m doing.
"There’s no controversy. I mean, this is his team. He’s going to lead this team and continue to lead the team. We’ve just all kind of got to pull in the right direction and get everybody to continue to get better.”