Tagged in: Brian flores

Tua Tagovailoa believes he’s Miami Dolphins’ franchise QB, but says he must ‘prove’ it

Tua Tagovailoa considers he can be the Miami Dolphins’ franchise quarterback but knows he has to prove it with better play in Year 2.

Tagovailoa is coming off a rookie season where he went 6-3 with a 64.1% completion rate, 14 total touchdowns and five interceptions. But the former Alabama star was substituted twice in the fourth quarter by veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and struggled at times to throw the ball effectively downfield.

With the Dolphins in the thick of offseason quarterback speculation for the second straight year, Tagovailoa was asked whether he is convinced that Miami is all-in on him as the franchise quarterback.

“In my mind and in my heart, I would hope so,” Tagovailoa said Monday during an interview with Sirius Mad Dog Radio. “With the way things went last year, you always have to prove yourself to do better, and I want to do better.”

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Dolphins coach Brian Flores told ESPN last month that he’s “excited about the future with Tagovailoa,” and the Dolphins believe in him. Dolphins general manager Chris Grier also said last month that Tagovailoa is their starting quarterback and they are happy with his development.

This offseason will prove if the Dolphins’ strong public commitment to Tagovailoa matches their actions, with multiple options potentially available, including unhappy Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter recently reported that Watson has requested a trade, while ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that Watson has Miami high on his preferred trade destination list.

The Dolphins are one of the few teams with the draft capital to potentially entice a Watson trade.

Tagovailoa told Sirius Mad Dog Radio that he hadn’t heard the Watson trade rumors until his agent told him about them, but “that’s something that would be out of my control regardless.”

“That would be a decision of the Dolphins organization,” he said. “I have to control what I can control — work hard and do well next season.”

Tagovailoa was also honest in his evaluation of his 2020 season, saying he “would describe my rookie season as below average. This past season wasn’t up to the expectation that I have for myself.”

If the Dolphins do move forward with Tagovailoa, as is their existing plan, the focus would be on his Year 2 improvement. He told the Dan Patrick Show that there’s a “big difference” in his health this offseason compared to last year, when he was coming off serious hip surgery, and he can focus this year on improving mental elements of his game.

The Dolphins already have made it a focus to build around Tagovailoa early in the 2021 offseason, including hiring his former Elite 11 high school camp coach Charlie Frye as the their quarterbacks coach.

They also spent significant time at the Senior Bowl getting to know Alabama star receiver DeVonta Smith and running back Najee Harris; both are fits for the Dolphins’ offensive needs, have a great relationship with Tagovailoa and could be options for Miami to select with each of their first-round draft picks (Nos. 3 and 18).

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Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Chan Gailey resigns

Veteran assistant coach Chan Gailey has resigned after one year as Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator, the team informed Wednesday morning.

This means the Dolphins will have a new offensive coordinator for the third consecutive season under coach Brian Flores as they continue to find the right scheme and playcaller to get the most out of rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

“I want to thank Chan for all of his hard work and dedication in what was a unique year,” Flores said in a statement. “He played an important role on the staff and in the development of our young roster. I wish him all the best.”

Gailey’s resignation comes less than 24 hours after Flores said he expected all of his assistants back for the 2021 season — barring any surprises. It’s unclear whether Gailey’s departure comes as a surprise or whether the team had been planning for this possibility.

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When Gailey was asked multiple times throughout the season whether he planned to return in 2021, the 69-year-old was noncommittal, commenting only that this was the most unusual season of his coaching career given the COVID-19 pandemic and its ripple effects.

Flores hired Gailey, who was a former head coach of the Bills and Cowboys, out of retirement in January 2020 to replace offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea.

The Dolphins will now start evaluating their own staff and possibly external candidates to find a new offensive coordinator. If Miami looks to promote internal options, tight ends coach George Godsey and running backs coach Eric Studesville are the top candidates.

Godsey took on an increased role coaching Tagovailoa over the second half of the campaign, and he was often seen breaking down the previous drive with the young quarterback on game days.

Tagovailoa went 6-3 as a starter, but all five of his interceptions came in the final four games, including three in the season-ending loss to the Bills.

Earlier this year, Flores also lauded Studesville as a “phenomenal coach, teacher and communicator” who has a future as an offensive coordinator and head coach.

The 2020 Dolphins finished 22nd in total offense (339 yards per game) and 15th in scoring (25.3 points per game). Gailey’s offense didn’t appear to bring out the most in Tagovailoa in their short time together. Now the 22-year-old will have a new playcaller and a full offseason to learn under him.

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Dolphins agree to trade edge rusher Charles Harris to Falcons

When Brian Flores took the reins as head coach of the organization in 2019, things didn’t exactly get off to a roaring start. The end of the campaign showed a sparky Dolphins team that could actually make some waves in the AFC East, but they would have to move around some pieces to become actual contenders. Their latest one comes at the expense of Charles Harris, a veteran pass rusher who was the team’s first-round pick in 2017 out of Missouri. 

Harris has allegedly been traded to the Atlanta Falcons, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, ending his time in South Florida and starting his next chapter in North Georgia, and in exchange for only a seventh-round pick.

The Dolphins are trading Harris only one day after they released Taco Charlton, another disappointing first-round pick from the 2017 draft class — a selection that hangs like an albatross around the neck of the Dallas Cowboys — as Flores and the Dolphins look to juice up their defensive front.

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They signed both Emmanuel Ogbah and Shaq Lawson in free agency and grabbed three defensive linemen in the 2020 NFL Draft, hinting at more changes to come.

The NFL deadline for exercising a former first-round pick’s fifth-year option was rapidly approaching, but the Dolphins opted to move on instead. Harris joins a Falcons defense looking to bolster its pass rush, but one that also waved off exercising the fifth-year option on its own former first-round pick in Takkarist McKinley, making it a rough go as of late for pass rushers taken in that round, that year — although McKinley has had much more success at the NFL level than Charlton and Harris combined.

Harris and McKinley are slated to now be teammates in Atlanta for at least the 2020 campaign, assuming the Falcons don’t eventually ship the latter away down the road via trade. The former is set to earn $1.943 million in base salary this coming season, barring any changes to his roster spot or contract with the Falcons.

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