Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores announced that the team will roll with rookie Tua Tagovailoa as its starting quarterback, just days after making his NFL debut in the final minutes of Miami’s big win over the New York Jets.
Tagovailoa will make his first NFL start when the Dolphins return from their bye week in Week 8 against the Los Angeles Rams. The Alabama product and first-round pick will replace veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick under center.
Fitzpatrick met with reporters on Wednesday and he was very emotional about being benched, despite playing well and leading the Dolphins to a 3-3 record, and second-place in the AFC East. Fitzpatrick said the decision “broke his heart.”
“I was shocked by it. It definitely caught me off guard. It was a hard thing for me to hear yesterday, just digesting the news. My heart just hurt all day.” Fitzpatrick told reporters.
Flores said the decision to bench Fitzpatrick was difficult.
“Fitz has done a great job,” Flores said on Wednesday. “He has been productive. His leadership has been great. But we felt like for the team now, moving forward, this is a move we need to make.”
Unfortunately for the Dolphins, news of the quarterback change leaked on Tuesday before Flores told the team.
“The one thing in this situation that’s unfortunate is that I didn’t get a chance to address the team before this was out in the media,” Flores said. "It's not the way I or we want to do business. Unfortunately, it's kind of the way of the world right now.
“I'm not happy about that at all. I'll address that to the team and really apologize to them that they had to find out through social media. I don’t think that’s fair to them.”
Flores added: “Fitz has been great for the last year and a half. I don’t know if there has been anybody more instrumental in trying to instill the culture that we're looking for. He has made an impact on Tua and a lot of other players on this team. I have a great respect for him, and that made this decision very tough.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.