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Brian Flores: Starting Tua Tagovailoa at QB 'the best thing for' the Dolphins

Tua Time has officially commenced in South Beach.

Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores confirmed Wednesday that Tua Tagovailoa will be the team's starting quarterback when it returns from a Week 7 bye.

"We feel like that's the best thing for the team," Flores said. "We feel like through practice and meetings and walkthroughs that he's ready, and that's how we're going to move going forward."

Making the move now gives Tua ample time to prep before the Dolphins face the L.A. Rams in Week 8.

"I was very excited," Tagovailoa told reporters, per the Miami Herald. "That's news that I think that anyone wanted to hear, being named the starter at any position."

The timing comes as Ryan Fitzpatrick spearheaded back-to-back blowout wins over the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets. Flores insisted that the decision to turn to Tua had nothing to do with the veteran signal-caller.

"Fitz has done a great job," Flores said. "He's been productive. His leadership's been great. It's not an easy decision for me or us as an organization. But we felt like for the team now and moving forward, this is the move we need to make."

Tagovailoa made his NFL debut last week in the closing minutes of the blowout win. The lefty threw two passes, completing both. Fitzpatrick's rousing response to the rookie getting his first action underscored the veteran as a leader who understood the score. He was always a placeholder. He knew that and led accordingly.

"Look, Fitz has been great," Flores said. "He's been great really for the last year and a half. I don't know if there's anybody who's been more instrumental in trying to instill a culture and embody a lot of things we're looking from a toughness, competitiveness, team-first. ... He's made an impact on Tua (and) a lot of the players on this team. So I have a great respect for him, and that made this decision very tough, But at the end of the day, as a team, we felt like the best thing to do for our team now and moving forward was going with Tua. But I think Fitz and the way he handles himself and his impact on the team, it'll still be there. He's been a tremendous asset and leader for this team."

Fitzpatrick admitted Wednesday that he was not taking the news very well.

"My heart just hurt all day," the veteran told reporters. "It was heartbreaking for me. Flo kind of said what he said and said what he said to you guys as well. That's the decision and the direction that the organization is going in. Obviously, we'd talked in the past about how I'm the placeholder and this eventually was going to happen. It was a matter of when, not if.

"It still just broke my heart yesterday. It's a tough thing for me to hear and now have to deal with. but I'm going to do my best with it."

Tua suffered a season-ending hip injury last year at Alabama that thrust his future into question. The Dolphins were not worried about the medical aspect, selecting him No. 5 overall. Miami knew he might not be ready for the start of the season and had the luxury of waiting, with FitzMagic holding down the fort.

Now is the time for the Tua era to begin.

"We've seen a lot of improvement from Tua," Flores said. "I think he's gotten more comfortable. Accuracy, decision making, all of those things have been good in practice. But again, practice is very different than a game. We're comfortable and confident that he'll be able to be competitive in those games when the time comes."

The coach was careful to note that it's not all on the QB. The Dolphins will win or lose based on how every player on the field performs when his number is called.

"I'm confident in all our players, to include Tua," Flores said. "He's practiced well. He works hard in meetings and walkthroughs. He's got a good rapport with his teammates. I think every week we go out to win, so yeah, I'm confident if we prepare the right way, if he prepares the way he's been preparing, I'm confident we'll go out there and have a good result. But it's not a one-man game. It's football. You need 11 guys on each play and go out there and play together, play as a team. I'm confident we'll be able to do that."

Tagovailoa said of his role for the remainder of the season, "Whatever I can do to help this team become successful. Everyone knows Fitz has done a tremendous job. I feel like I'm definitely lucky, blessed to be in the situation I'm in with him. Having the mind of (offensive coordinator) Chan (Gailey), him helping put me in the offense, in a good situation. That's what's going to be important the next couple of weeks and the entire season."

At 3-3, the Dolphins remain in the thick of the AFC race. Now Flores and the Dolphins will usher in a new future with a dynamic rookie quarterback. Whether Miami remains in the hunt or slides back, the future looks bright in South Beach.

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