Tua time? Even at 1-3, Miami coach Flores says not so fast

  • In this Aug. 25, 2020, file photo, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa does drills during practice at the NFL football team's training facility in Davie, Fla. When asked Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, about the Dolphins' quarterback situation, coach Brian Flores paused for eight seconds before he answered. That was plenty of time to stir up even more speculation regarding when top draft pick Tagovailoa might make his NFL debut. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

MIAMI — When asked Monday about the Miami Dolphins’ quarterback situation, coach Brian Flores paused for nearly 8 seconds before he answered.

That was plenty of time to stir up even more speculation regarding when top draft pick Tua Tagovailoa might make his NFL debut.

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Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two interceptions and had a passer rating of 66 in Sunday’s 31-23 loss to Seattle, which dropped the Dolphins to 1-3.

But it’s unclear whether the Dolphins believe Tagovailoa has learned the offense well enough to take over Sunday at San Francisco, and whether they’re ready to expose him to an NFL pass rush less than a year after a serious hip injury ended his Alabama career.

“Look, I understand where everybody is coming from with Tua,” Flores said. “I get all that. At the same time, he’s a young player. He’s coming off the injury. We’ll make the decision on the starter, but I would presume that’s going to be Fitzpatrick.”

Tagovailoa watched again Sunday while two other rookie quarterbacks, the Bengals’ Joe Burrow and the Chargers’ Justin Herbert, played well. Flores said that doesn’t factor into his thinking, and said his 8-second pause didn’t signal a QB change was imminent.

Switching to Tagovailoa would mean exposing his surgically repaired hip behind an offensive line with two rookies.

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“He has checked all the boxes from a medical standpoint,” Flores said. “(But) the honest thing for me is if it was my kid and he had a serious injury like that, I wouldn’t want his coach to be rushed to throw him in there because of media pressure or anything like that.

“No one is going to pressure me into doing anything. When we feel like he’s ready to go, we’ll put him in.”

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