Pulled for the second time in 5 starts, what’s next for Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa?
Eight starts in his career, Tua Tagovailoa has as many benchings in the fourth quarter as comebacks in the fourth quarter:
For the second time in five starts, Brian Flores drew Tagovailoa for late-game performance.
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And unlike the first time on Saturday, it worked.
Ryan Fitzpatrick rallied the Dolphins past the Raiders on Saturday night, scoring 13 points on the Dolphins' last three possessions - as many as Tagovailoa in its nine series.
Flores insisted late Saturday that Tagovailoa, not Fitzpatrick, would start week 17 against the Bills. But it's fair to ask if Tagovailoa is giving the dolphins the best chance of winning this game.
This year it has always been about developing Tagovailoa for the future, but at least it has hit a plateau in the last few weeks. On Saturday, it took him 22 pass attempts for 94 passes - a reflection of how the offense just doesn't click when he's on the field, also because of the lack of explosive games.
Tagovailoa passes made up just two of the 10 longest Dolphins games on Saturday - and those ranked eighth (a 14-yard pass for Jakeem Grant) and ninth (a 13-yard pass for Grant).
Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, had three passes over 30 meters in just 13 attempts.
"Sometimes you just have to do the recordings," said Tagovailoa. “You have to give the guys a chance and just bring the ball into play because time is running out and we don't have all day to think here, think there and try to move the ball like that. ”
When asked if he needs to push the ball down any more, given that Fitzpatrick is able to produce with the exact same recipient group, Fitzovailoa replied:
"I would say so, but I would also say with what is given, I will continue to take what the defense gives me. If I feel that this is not open, I will not toss it. And so I have to get better. That's it. "
After the game, Flores suggested that he owe it to the players in the locker room to make a change to the quarterback if a spark is needed, shrugging off concerns that it might damage Tagovailoa's confidence.
"This is the second time it has happened but I would say it's just something to learn from," said Tagovailoa. "While Fitz is in there, I will support him. I will support the entire offensive there and as a team you are really only looking forward to one win and we have that tonight, so we are happy with that."
This season, Tagovailoa's stats are respectable. He completed 65 percent of his passes and threw 10 touchdowns on 2 interceptions. But his yards per try (6.3) are among the worst in the league, well behind Fitzpatrick's.
"It always feels good to win first," said Tagovailoa. "I know outsiders will likely say," Well, it wasn't you who brought the victory. "Of course it was Fitz and I think it was a huge effort not just from him but from the entire offensive. Only he understands how to get into a groove and where to go fast with the ball and so on; I think "That's what makes Fitz what he is, and in a way it wasn't that shocking tonight to see what happened. They call him Fitzmagic for a reason."
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