Ryan Fitzpatrick: Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa, Brian Flores Relationship Was ‘Difficult’
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Former Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick thinks the team is succeeding this season because Tua Tagovailoa has the full support of head coach Mike McDaniel.
Speaking to Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post, Fitzpatrick felt the dynamic between Tagovailoa and former head coach Brian Flores was “difficult” in some ways.
“[McDaniel’s] all about preaching confidence to a guy and building him up rather than trying to break him down,” Fitzpatrick said. “And I think that’s translated well, so far to the field.”
Fitzpatrick and Flores spent two seasons together with the Dolphins from 2019 to ’20. Tagovailoa joined them in 2020 after being drafted No. 5 overall following a successful two-year run as Alabama’s starting quarterback.
Flores used Fitzpatrick as his starter for the first six games of the 2020 season. Tagovailoa didn’t get into a game until late in a Week 6 blowout win over the New York Jets.
After Miami’s bye in Week 7, Tagovailoa replaced Fitzpatrick at quarterback. Despite having a solid statistical line through his first four starts (61.1 percent completion rate, six touchdowns, no interceptions), Flores benched his rookie late in Week 11 against the Denver Broncos.
An injury forced Tagovailoa to miss Week 12 but he returned to his post as the starter the following week. He finished his debut season with 1,814 yards, 11 touchdowns and a 64.1 percent completion rate.
Fitzpatrick signed with the Washington Commanders as a free agent after the 2020 season, ensuring Tagovailoa would be Miami’s quarterback in 2021. The 24-year-old had another decent performance with 2,653 yards, 16 touchdowns and a 67.8 percent completion rate in 13 games.
There’s no denying the talent around Tagovailoa is better in 2022 than it was in the previous two years. The Dolphins brought in Tyreek Hill, who is arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL, to play alongside Jaylen Waddle on the outside.
But McDaniel, who was hired to replace Flores in February after spending the previous five seasons as an assistant for the San Francisco 49ers, routinely went out of his way before the start of the season to praise Tagovailoa’s ability.
“It’s the most accurate, catchable ball I’ve ever seen,” McDaniel said of Tagovailoa’s throwing skills during an August appearance on The Dan Le Batard Show:
The results thus far have backed up what McDaniel has been saying. Tagovailoa leads the NFL in QBR (82.8), ranks second in passing yards (925), is tied for third in touchdown passes (eight) and is fourth in completion percentage (71.3).
McDaniel has the Dolphins off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2018.