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Did Brian Flores sabotage Tua Tagovailoa’s development as QB for the Miami Dolphins?

Los Angeles Chargers v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Brian Flores’ tenure as Miami head coach ended unceremoniously last week, just one day removed from completing the Dolphins’ first back-to-back-winning-seasons stretch since the 2002 and 2003 seasons.

Many people – fans and media alike – were shocked by the news.

And then the rumors started to trickle out, putting the hazy picture into much clearer focus.

Was Brian Flores the driving force for all of the trade speculation surrounding embattled Houston Texans starting quarterback, Deshaun Watson? Every outlet outside of Pro Football Talk seems to think so.

Did Miami quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, and Brian Flores have a contentious relationship that combusted at halftime of the Dolphins’ loss to the Tennessee Titans – a loss that effectively knocked them out of the playoff race? With reports of curse words being flung across the locker room, many sources have seemingly confirmed those stories as well.

Are Brian Flores and Deshaun Watson tying their futures together and pitching their partnership to teams considering the former Miami head coach for their vacant position? According to NFL insider, Jordan Schultz, that does appear to be the case.

Looking back at the evidence, this scenario should have been foreseen far in advance. All we needed to do was follow the bread crumbs and we would have been led back to Flores’ office where he would have most likely been whispering sweet nothings into his telephone, only for them to end up entering the ear-hole of Deshaun Watson on the daily. I kid... Maybe.

How was Tua Tagovailoa supposed to succeed when his head coach was undercutting him at every opportunity? Let’s take a look at some of the damning facts – and also some unconfirmed, yet widely believed speculations:

  • Tua was inserted into Miami’s starting lineup during his rookie season before he was fully healed from a devastating hip injury sustained during his final college appearance
  • Tua was pulled from games where he struggled – being replaced by Ryan Fitzpatrick on multiple occasions during his rookie season
  • Miami’s offensive line was one of the worst pass-blocking units in all of football and, arguably, the worst offensive line in team history
  • Tua was surrounded by the worst pass-catching core in regards to separation in the entire NFL during his rookie season
  • After just his first year, trade rumors – allegedly fueled by Flores himself – were aplenty, and did not cease even when the subject of those rumors was accused of twenty-two sexual misconduct allegations
  • It has been alleged that Flores had Tagovailoa tested for performance enhancing drugs as many as four times in the offseason due to the mass that the young quarterback had been cultivating
  • Tua was sent to injured-reserve this season even while telling those closest to him that he was healthy enough to play, leading some to believe that Flores did so in retaliation for what he perceived as “insubordination”
  • During his two-year tenure in Miami, Tua has played for 4 different offensive coordinators – 5 if you include Charlie Frye who was calling plays early on in the 2021 season – due to turnover attributed to Flores’ inability to maintain positive relationships with those who work closest to him
  • After Flores’ dismissal, suddenly Miami Dolphins owner, Stephen Ross, no longer has an interest in acquiring Deshaun Watson from Houston, nor does GM, Chris Grier

It’s true that General Manager, Chris Grier, shoulders equal blame for the personnel decisions, as roster building in Miami was a collaborative effort between he and Flores, according to multiple sources. However, it wasn’t Grier who was pushing for the Dolphins to trade for Deshaun Watson. That was a Brian Flores special.

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Tua Tagovailoa is not a perfect NFL quarterback. After two years in the league, no one is claiming that he is. But what some are advocating for, myself included, is that Miami finally gives him the support system that any young quarterback requires – both on the field and in the headset.

Tua’s offensive coordinator during his freshman season at Alabama, Buffalo Bills OC Brian Daboll, interviewed for the head-coaching position with Miami yesterday. Daboll once famously stated that Tagovailoa had “keyhole accuracy.” He’s clearly a fan, so one would assume that he would do anything and everything within his power to build Tua up, allowing him to learn and grow under-center for Miami with the hope of Tagovailoa proving himself to be the unquestioned future at the QB position for the Dolphins.

Mike McDaniel, San Francisco’s offensive coordinator, is another highly respected offensive mind. If he can be lured away from the Shanahan coaching tree once the 49ers’ playoff run is over, he would surely give a boost to Miami’s offense, Tua Tagovailoa included.

No matter who gets hired on as Miami’s head coach, their main objective will be to help Tua Tagovailoa become an upper-echelon starting quarterback in the NFL. It is very hard to win playoff games without one (just look at what happened to New England on Saturday).

Whether Miami chooses Brian Daboll, Mike McDaniel – or even guys like Dallas OC Kellen Moore, Rams RB coach Thomas Brown, or a slew of other defensive names I haven’t even gotten into – that coach would struggle to do a worse job at cultivating a positive professional relationship with Tua Tagovailoa than Brian Flores did. At the very least, they would likely not be leading the charge for an alleged sexual predator to take over his position.

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Who do you want to see hired as the next head coach for the Miami Dolphins? Do you believe Brian Flores will be a successful head coach at his next stop? Do you think that if Brian Flores takes the job in Houston, Deshaun Watson will suddenly want to stick around and play for the Texans? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter at @MBrave13! Fins up!