Dolphins GM Chris Grier: Tua Tagovailoa Is Starting QB

One of this offseason’s most intriguing storylines may have just been nipped in the bud. Speaking at his end of season media availability, Dolphins GM Chris Grier declared Tua Tagovailoa the starting quarterback moving forward, via Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald.

“Tua we’re very happy with,” Grier said. “He’s our starting quarterback.” While Grier didn’t really hedge much, it’s worth pointing out that he did decline to answer whether the team would consider drafting a quarterback with the third overall pick, saying he wasn’t going to get into draft strategy. It’s difficult to parse this kind of coach and front office-speak, but Grier’s declaration did sound more definitive than when the Cardinals said Josh Rosen was “the guy” before promptly drafting Kyler Murray.

It sounds like the plan right now is to surround Tagovailoa with better weapons, and that will start with upgrading the receiving corp. “We’re very happy with that and looking forward to watching him progress here over the next offseason and going into next year,” Grier continued. Head coach Brian Flores also spoke to the media and said he expected his entire coaching staff back next year, including polarizing offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.

There had been an erroneous report Monday that Gailey was being let go. Flores also didn’t say whether he wanted Ryan Fitzpatrick back with the team in 2021, stating that he needed to evaluate the whole roster first. If the team really is intent on running it back with Tagovailoa, keeping Fitzpatrick would likely prove to be too much of a distraction.

Tagovailoa, of course, found himself benched for Fitzpatrick a couple of times, including in the team’s crucial Week 16 game against the Raiders when Fitzpatrick led a miracle comeback. Had Fitzpatrick not caught COVID-19, he almost certainly would’ve been inserted into their Week 17 loss to the Bills, which knocked them out of the playoffs, where Tagovailoa melted down.
Tagovailoa didn’t play all that poorly by rookie quarterback standards, but he didn’t show nearly as many flashes as Joe Burrow or Justin Herbert, and he often held onto the ball too long and took unnecessary sacks. His struggles with inefficiency led some to question whether or not the Dolphins, with their massive haul of draft picks, would consider starting from scratch with a new passer in this deep quarterback draft.
As of right now it doesn’t seem like they have any plans to do so, although it wouldn’t be too shocking if it turned out Grier and Flores were just playing media games. Tagovailoa finished his rookie season averaging 6.3 yards per attempt with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions in nine starts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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