Tua is Dolphins’ starting QB for 2021, GM says

  • Covered the Broncos for two seasons with the Denver Post
  • Graduate of the University of Houston
  • A native of Jackson, Miss.

DAVIE, Fla. — Miami general manager Chris Grier made clear Tuesday that Tua Tagovailoa is the Dolphins’ 2021 starting quarterback, and they’re happy with his progress amid speculation they could be a candidate to draft another first-round quarterback.

“Tua, we’re very happy with. He’s our starting quarterback,” Grier said. “He did a nice job this year coming in as a rookie with no offseason and the challenge in dealing with all that. Very happy with him and looking forward to watching him progress here over a [full] offseason going into next year. For us, not really talking about draft strategy, anything right now.”

Grier, alongside coach Brian Flores for the Dolphins’ season-ending address, said a few minutes later that they value competition at every position, but reiterated that Tagovailoa is their guy at QB.

“We want to be clear that Tua is our starter and we’re very happy with his development so far,” Grier said.

Tagovailoa went 6-3 as a starter, throwing 11 touchdowns to five interceptions. But questions surrounding the team’s quarterback position arose because of a rocky late-season finish that saw Tagovailoa twice replaced in the fourth quarter by veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. Tagovailoa also threw three interceptions in Sunday’s season finale loss to the Buffalo Bills.

But the Dolphins believe a full offseason will help Tagovailoa improve some of his rookie struggles, and roster improvement particularly at receiver and running back can help his overall effectiveness.

The Dolphins hold the Nos. 3 and 18 picks in the 2021 NFL draft, and though Grier nor Flores wanted to discuss much draft strategy in January, it seems their top priorities will be building around Tagovailoa and improving their roster to close the gap between them and the AFC East champion Bills.

Tagovailoa, who spoke after Sunday’s loss, said he learned a lot during his rookie season and is hopeful a full offseason will lead to him taking the next step as a player. He put a cap on his 2020 season with an Instagram post Tuesday thanking Dolphins fans, expressing his joy playing with his teammates, and offering a message of “roses will bloom again.”


Flores also announced that he expects to have all of his assistant coaches back in 2021, barring any sudden changes like one being hired by another team. That includes a return for offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, who came under some criticism for having a conservative offense when Tagovailoa was the QB.

Flores said he believes the offense dynamic between Gailey and Tagovailoa will improve with more communication and comfort over time.

As for Fitzpatrick, it’s unclear whether the 38-year-old veteran QB wants to return for a 17th NFL season. He’s an unrestricted free agent in March, and Flores said the Dolphins need to go through a full evaluation before determining if Fitzpatrick or any of their other pending free agents will be offered a contract to return in 2021.

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