The Miami Dolphins are on the verge of a postseason bid. A win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, and they're in.
With the decision to keep Tua as the starter, coach Brian Flores opens up the possibility of another poor start from the rookie jeopardizing the Dolphins' playoff chances.
After struggling the past several weeks, the rookie insists neither getting benched nor the weight of the postseason opportunity has eaten at him.
"I'd say for me there's really no extra, added pressure," Tagovailoa said, via the Miami Herald. "The expectation for myself is very high in how I perform and how I go out there and try to lead the guys to victory.
"Obviously, this past weekend, I didn't play to that standard. It's more so me knowing that we've got to go out here and get the job done. If you can't get the job done, then that's on you. That's on no one else."
With Tagovailoa under center, the Dolphins' offense has been more restricted than when Fitzpatrick has been in the lineup.
According to Next Gen Stats, Tagovailoa has thrown passes of 10-plus air yards on 29.3 percent of his attempts this season (26th-highest in NFL). Fitzpatrick has thrown passes of 10-plus air yards on 34.1 percent of his attempts this season (9th-highest in NFL).
Despite Fitzpatrick twice being asked to relieve Tua late in games when the rookie struggled and jumpstarting a struggling offense each time, the locker room hasn't second-guessed Flores' decision to keep the rookie under center.
Joining NFL Network's Good Morning Football on Thursday, corner Byron Jones said the team fully supports both Tua and Fitzpatrick and is ready to back any moves Flores makes.
"I think it's awesome," Jones said of the QB duo's dynamic. "It's guys that really appreciate their role and how important they are to the team. Fitz is good. That's probably the thing that had the biggest impact on me coming in, is just seeing how good Fitzpatrick is and his spirit. He's a guy in the locker room that really uplifts everyone around, and it's so rare to have that type of person in the locker room. Understand, he was probably benched, what, Week 4, Week 3, and you call on a guy in Week 16 to show up big time, and he does it without any ego, without any hard feelings. That's hard to find at any level... To have a guy understand how important he is to this team and the future of this team.
"I just love seeing how they interact together, Coach Flo, Tua, Fitz. They just understand how important it is to the team. If one's not doing so well, the other lifts the person up. Coach Flo isn't scared to make decisions, and we all trust him, and we all understand that he's the head coach and he makes the decision, and we're all behind him 100 percent."
Needing a win to secure a playoff bid, it will be interesting to see how Tua responds to being benched. If he struggles, how long might Flores wait before putting in his veteran reliever once again?