Former Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick recently revealed that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was “broken” by former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores.
Flores was Miami’s head coach for the first two seasons of Tagovailoa’s career after the team drafted him with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Fitzpatrick, who was on the team with Tagovailoa in the 2020 season, shared how things have changed for the 25-year-old.
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“Tua Tagovailoa, who I was with, Brian Flores – same New England way – he was broken for Brian Flores the way he treated him, the way that he coached him,” Fitzpatrick said. “And what happens? Mike McDaniel comes in. He restores his confidence. He gets it back, and now he’s an MVP candidate.”
Tagovailoa started nine games in his rookie season under Flores after Fitzpatrick began the season as the starter. However, things didn’t go super smoothly for the young quarterback.
Flores benched Tagovailoa on multiple occasions in the 2020 season, something that likely hurt the passer’s confidence.
Even though Tagovailoa was the team’s starter for a good chunk of the 2020 season and when he was healthy in the 2021 season, he never really blossomed under Flores.
The Dolphins moved on from Flores after the 2021 campaign and brought in McDaniel – an offensive-minded head coach – to help Tagovailoa’s development.
In his first season under McDaniel’s guidance, Tagovailoa thrived. Last season, he played some of the best football of his NFL career with the additions of McDaniel and star receiver Tyreek Hill to the team. Tagovailoa threw for 3,548 yards, 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 13 games during the regular season.
He also led the NFL in yards gained per pass attempt and yards gained per pass completion.
This season, as Fitzpatrick mentioned, Tagovailoa is playing at an MVP-caliber level. The University of Alabama product has thrown for 3,457 yards, 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 12 games. He’s also completing a career-high 70.1 percent of his passes.
Flores’ coaching style clearly wasn’t the best for Tagovailoa to reach his full potential, and it looks like the Dolphins made the right choice by moving on from him to bring in McDaniel.
This season, Miami is 9-3 through its first 12 games and holds the No. 1 seed in the AFC. If Tagovailoa keeps playing at a high level, it’s possible the team can secure that top spot and make a deep playoff run.