Dolphins HC Brian Flores: 'We have a lot of confidence' in Tua Tagovailoa despite benching

At the first sign of significant struggle this season, Dolphins coach Brian Flores yanked Tua Tagovailoa from Sunday's game against the Broncos in favor of veteran signal-caller Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Flores reiterated Monday that the benching isn't a signal of waning trust in the young quarterback. Tua remains the Dolphins' starter.

"He's a talented player. He's a young player," Flores said, via Cameron Wolfe of ESPN. "He's a developing player. We have a lot of confidence in him. That's why he's the starter. ... He's got my full support. He's got the support of the coaching staff and the locker room."

Tua played poorly in Sunday's 20-13 loss to the Broncos. The rookie completed 11 of 20 passes for 83 yards, 4.2 yards per attempt, threw one TD and took six sacks. Tagovailoa was lucky his first career interception was wiped out by a penalty.

While ups and downs are expected for a rookie QB, Tua looked lost for long stretches Sunday. Behind an offensive line that struggled with the Broncos' pressure, the signal-caller couldn't diagnose where the pressure was coming from, struggled to get to his outlets, and uncharacteristically panicked in the pocket compared to what we'd seen in weeks prior.

With Tua under center, the Dolphins had five three-and-outs in eight drives and earned just 10 first downs and 100 total yards of offense. The only TD came off a short field produced by a Dolphins interception early in the first quarter.

Fitzpatrick entered the game and immediately jumpstarted Miami's offense, generating 123 yards and seven first downs in his two drives. The first drive ended in a field goal to cut a 10-point lead to seven. On the final drive, Fitzpatrick got the ball on Miami's 1-yard-line and drove all the way to the Denver 15 before throwing an interception in the end zone to thwart a potential comeback.

The Dolphins' playoff hopes took a hit with the loss to the struggling Broncos. Miami fell to 6-4 and out of the final playoff spot in the AFC. Flores' decision to bench Tagovailoa when the going got tough will lead to more questions about the coach's plan for the rookie QB. Will he ever let Tua play through a rough stretch where he's taking a beating?

Experience comes in all forms. Sometimes the most notable lessons arise in defeats. Any time the rookie struggles from here on out, he'll have to look over his shoulder to see if his coach is going to give him the hook.

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