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Brian Flores on Tua Tagovailoa amid Deshaun Watson talk: ‘His psyche’s in a good place’

  • October 22, 2021

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores neither confirmed nor denied reports that his club is engaged in ongoing trade talks with the Texans for Deshaun Watson.

“I don’t really get into rumors,” Flores said Friday. “Tua (Tagovailoa) is our quarterback. We’re happy with the quarterback situation. And I’ll leave it at that. Which we’ve said. And I’ve said multiple times.”

It seems likely Tagovailoa will be Miami’s starting quarterback against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium.

Tagovailoa is a 23-year-old player in his second NFL season. What are Flores and his staff doing to ensure the Watson reports do not negatively impact the quarterback’s psyche?

“I think his preparation and the way he practices and the way he performs has been good,” Flores said. “I thought he played very well last week. I thought he was out for a few games and he came back and he played very well last week. I think his psyche’s in a good place.

“He’s a confident kid. He’s a tough kid. And really he’s played in two games this year. So he should have a lot of confidence in the way he’s played. We have a lot of confidence in him because of the way he’s played. Our focus is on Atlanta. And for him to play well again and for our team to play well.”

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If the Dolphins trade for Watson, it seems likely they would attempt to trade Tagovailoa. Any inquiring team would get a positive referral from Flores.

“I think he’s developing,” Flores said. “I think this kid is smart. I think he’s tough. I think he’s talented. I think he’s accurate. I think he definitely has an opportunity to be a very good player. But there’s a lot that goes into that. A lot of work from him. A lot of work from us. It doesn’t just happen overnight. He knows that. We know that.

“There are always bumps in the road, for any career, or any profession… And you’ve got to work through those. And work through that adversity and you become better for you. He’s already worked through adversity with the hip. And he’s overcome it. And I think he definitely has a chance to be a very good NFL player.”

Recently, former NFL general manager Louis Riddick criticized the Dolphins for allegedly not setting up Tagovailoa for success.

“I would try to set the table for this young man,” Riddick said of Tagovailoa. “I feel like the deck has been stacked against him.”

But Miami has tried to design an offense that suits Tagovailoa’s strengths. And they’ve drafted wide receiver Jaylen Waddle and signed receiver Will Fuller. And they’ve drafted offensive linemen Robert Hunt and Liam Eichenberg and Solomon Kindley. 

On Thursday, Flores said the franchise has supported Tagovailoa.

“In the same way we would support any other player that we bring in,” Flores said. “Try to get to know him. Try to find out the best ways to teach. Try to figure out strengths, weaknesses, and build on the strengths. I think we try to support every player and Tua is no different from that standpoint. To me, that’s what coaching is about.”

Another thing the Dolphins did to support Tagovailoa is hire his one-time Elite 11 coach, Charlie Frye. Though Frye’s title is quarterbacks coach, a report this week said it was actually Frye calling the plays the first four weeks of the season.

On Friday, Flores neither confirmed nor denied the report.

“Our focus in on Atlanta,” Flores said. “We’ve talked at length about the situation. It’s always been a collaborative effort. It was that early in the year. It’s that now. We talked about the process early in the year, that changed to what the process is now. And we’ll kind of leave it at that and move forward. Our focus is on Atlanta. It’s always been a collaborative effort. It always will be a collaborative effort.”

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