DAVIE, Fla. — Head coach Brian Flores strongly pushed back on the idea that the Miami Dolphins need to give rookie Tua Tagovailoa an audition for the rest of the 2020 season to figure out whether they want to select another quarterback in the 2021 NFL draft.
“There’s a couple things out there, let’s call it a source close to Dolphins thinking saying that we are auditioning Tua. I’m just going to tell you about my thinking. We brought Tua here because we believe in him, same as all the other draft picks. We believe in developing players and improving players on a daily basis,” Flores said. “That would be the opposite of giving someone a 10-game audition. That’s just my thinking on that, just so everybody’s clear.”
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday that one factor that contributed to the Dolphins’ decision to name Tagovailoa as their starting quarterback in Week 7 over popular veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick was the fact that Miami owns the Houston Texans‘ first- and second-round picks in next year’s NFL draft.
The Texans’ first-round pick is projected to end up in the top 10, and the 2021 NFL draft could field multiple intriguing top-10 quarterback options, including Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State’s Justin Fields. The Dolphins also have their own first- and second-round selections.
But Flores made it clear that he’s committed to Tagovailoa far beyond the 2020 season, and it appears the Dolphins will spend more time in the 2021 offseason focusing on building a team around Tagovailoa rather than adding his potential replacement.
“I’m comfortable with what comes out of these 10 games,” Flores said. “Since I’ve been here, I think everybody has heard me talk about the development of players, improvement on a daily basis. I just don’t see how somebody close to Dolphins thinking can say that this would be a 10-game audition. Not sure where or who that came from.”
Tagovailoa is set to start his second NFL game Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, and the expectation is that he will remain the team’s starter for the rest of their season and beyond. The 4-3 Dolphins are in playoff contention with the league’s No. 1 scoring defense (18.6 points per game allowed), which helped Tagovailoa get his first NFL win Sunday vs. the Los Angeles Rams despite throwing for just 93 yards.
When explaining the decision to start Tagovailoa a couple of weeks ago, Flores cited Tagovailoa’s overall readiness, improvement in practice and a feeling within the organization that it was time to see the rookie because that was the best thing for the team.