Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores benched Tua Tagovailoa for the second time this season on Sunday, turning to veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Fitzpatrick, 38, led Miami to a 26-25 win, as the Dolphins (10-5) have won nine of their last 11 games.
Afterward, Flores referred to Fitzpatrick as an ace in the bullpen and said that Tagovailoa will start against Buffalo (12-3) in Week 17.
“I’m not sold on Tua,” Brandon Tierney said on Tiki & Tierney. “I love him as a kid. I’m not sold on Tua. I’m not sold on him being a star.”
Tagovailoa, 22, was the fifth overall pick in the NFL Draft. He has completed 65.1 percent of his passes for 1,453 yards and has accounted for 13 touchdowns (10 pass, three rush) to two interceptions in nine games.
“I think he’s going to be a good quarterback,” Tiki Barber said, “but he’s unsure of himself. I don’t know if he’s going to be Justin Herbert [throwing] these darts downfield and [turning] into the icon that he was at [Alabama]. Remember at [Alabama] he was reading defenses and looking guys off and throwing [touchdown passes]. I don’t know if he’s going to to turn into that in the NFL, but I do think he’s going to start taking strides.”
Tagovailoa went 17-of-22 for 94 yards (4.3 yards per attempt) and a touchdown against the Raiders. Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, went 9-of-13 for 182 yards (14.0 yards per attempt) and a touchdown – in less than one quarter.
Barber, who played 10 seasons in the NFL, is okay with Flores turning to Fitzpatrick in key moments for one simple reason.
“There’s no controversy,” Barber said. “A lot of times you would see a controversy, like, ‘Fitz is going to give us the best chance to win,’ the rest of the team is going to say, ‘We want Fitz.’ But I don’t think that that’s the case in Miami. That’s something. That’s saying a lot. I can’t think of a situation where it’s ever been like this in the NFL where you have a guy that’s starting – young or otherwise – he gets benched, and then the next week he comes back in and he’s still the starter and it’s not even a conversation.”