The first sign at Brian Flores and Chris Grier being in over their head came with the mismanagement of Tua Tagovailoa, but the mismanagement of the young QB did not happen just because. Miami was in a tough spot as they wanted to accomplish two things in 2020, for one the team felt like they had played well enough and had enough pieces to make a run for the playoffs. But the Dolphins also wanted to start playing and developing their young QB since Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert were having exceptional starts. So why not throw Tua Tagovailoa in the mix as well?
Well for one the Miami Dolphins were in completely different positions than the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Chargers, why? This team was ready to compete and those teams were ready to experiment. The Bengals were the #1 overall pick and Joe Burrow was brought in as the savior and Andy Dalton was shipped out to Dallas, so Burrow was the starter from day one on a really depleted team.
The Los Angeles Chargers did not plan on starting Justin Herbert and instead preferred he would sit behind Tyrod Taylor, we don’t know if that was going to be the case for the entire season though. However, Tyrod Taylor suffered a punctured lung due to a doctor’s procedure gone wrong pre game, and thus why Justin Herbert was forced to start against the Chiefs on week 2 of the 2020 season, and he’s remained the starter ever since on a 1 dimensional team. Reliable weapons on offesnse but a safety hazard on defense.
The Miami Dolphins started the season with Ryan Fitzpatrick and most people did not expect to see any action from a rookie Tua Tagovailoa, since he was less than 1 year removed from a catastrophic hip injury. At least in my opinion I expected Tagovailoa to red shirt behind Fitzpatrick and learn as much as he could, as well as rehab back to 100% to either start taking snaps or starting games the last few weeks of the season (depending on the circumstances) since playoffs weren’t a highlighted goal for the Dolphins last year.
Instead as we all know Tagovailoa had his debut mid season in what came to a shock to many, Tagovailoa was replacing a Ryan Fitzpatrick that had a slow start but had been on absolute fire the last two weeks before that. The rest as we all know is history, Tua was never 100% to play when he was put in to start and that really dropped his value around the league since he was seen as limited.
And as I mentioned earlier by this time the Dolphins were stuck trying to make a playoff push due to not missing a beat with Tua and still winning games, but also trying to develop Tua at the same time. Of course this backfired pretty viciously as rookies are going to make rookie mistakes, have bad games which they must learn from, and use those moments to grow as an NFL QB and learn to overcome adversity. Which in many instances results in lost games, but the experience and evaluation you get from letting your young QB play things through pays off in the long run.
The Dolphins could not afford to do that since they were now unexpectedly in a position to make a run for the playoffs, and Brian Flores was not going to let games go to waste without doing everything he can to turn things around into a win. Of course many adjustments are made throughout a game but the most shocking one was the benchings of Tua Tagovailoa. A move that would hurt his QBs confidence, hurt the teams confidence in their QB, and also start unnecessary noise within the fanbase and the media.
But nevertheless the Miami Dolphins still rallied to a 10-6 season and the team was so disciplined, well coached, and had so much potential that it raised Brian Flores into candidate for Coach of the Year for the 2020 season.