Dolphins expected to stick with Tua Tagovailoa, no longer pursue Desha…

The next Miami Dolphins head coach will likely have to like quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

As the Dolphins have set up a slate of seven interviews for the vacancy produced by firing former coach Brian Flores, multiple reports came out on Saturday morning suggesting the franchise plans to move forward with Tagovailoa as its quarterback for his third NFL season.

It also essentially ends the Dolphins’ pursuit of Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, an elite quarterback but one who did not play the 2021 season amid 22 civil suits accusing him of sexual misconduct and two of those alleging sexual assault. Miami, with Flores as head coach, had been heavily involved in trade talks for Watson throughout the past offseason and preseason and up until past season’s trade deadline.

NFL Network reported there’s a “plan to build around and sustain [Tagovailoa].”

ESPN additional, “the chances of the Dolphins pursuing or acquiring Texans’ QB Deshaun Watson are greatly reduced, if not gone. … Flores had an interest in exploring a Watson deal, but others in organization, including owner Steven Ross, did not.”

Tagovailoa completed 67.8 percent of passes for 2,653 yards, 6.8 per attempt, 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, adding three rushing touchdowns in the 2021 season. He missed four games with separate rib and finger injuries, most of the Sept. 19 loss to the Buffalo Bills after going down early in the home opener and the first half of the Nov. 11 victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

Getting back into the lineup early in the second half against Baltimore, it began a run of four consecutive appearances with a quarterback rating higher than 100, a substantial stretch during Miami’s seven-game winning streak that followed a seven-game losing streak. Tagovailoa, however, could not replicate that same success by the final four weeks of the season, including an ugly outing in rainy, chilly Nashville for a 34-3 loss to the Tennessee Titans that ultimately deleted the Dolphins from playoff contention.

Ross, in his Monday comments amid parting ways with Flores, said quarterback decisions played “no role.”

“I have a lot of confidence in Tua. The next head coach will work with him — or whoever else,” Ross said. “I have watched him grow. I think he’s a fine young man.”

Ross additional then he has “no plans” to reignite trade talks for Watson.

During the Dolphins’ pursuit of Watson, which resulted in them passing on a trade at the Nov. 2 trade deadline, Flores continuously reiterated “Tua’s our quarterback” and deflected questions on rumors and reports of Miami’s interest in Watson.

Dolphins general manager Chris Grier spoke the day after the deadline and explained the organization’s reasoning behind exploring Watson trade possibilities: “If there’s a player obtainable around the league that’s viewed as being one of the top players around the league at any position, you look at it and try and go for it.”

Some of the Dolphins’ coaching candidates that they have lined up interviews for appear to be catered to the idea of building around Tagovailoa and developing him. Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll coached Tagovailoa during his college freshman season at Alabama. Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, like Tagovailoa, was an undersized left-handed quarterback who starred in college at Boise State but was a career backup as an undrafted player in the NFL.

The Dolphins, according to ESPN, plan on interviewing Daboll and Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier on Sunday, following Buffalo’s Saturday night playoff game against the New England Patriots.

Other candidates they are looking to interview, as of Saturday, are Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph and Los Angeles Rams running backs coach/assistant head coach Thomas Brown.



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