Brian Flores spent the majority of his 13-minute Wednesday morning press conference fielding questions about his decision to start Tua Tagovailoa over Ryan Fitzpatrick moving forward. The Dolphins officially announced the switch on Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours after reports surfaced that that Tagovailoa would be replacing Fitzpatrick, who has helped the Dolphins post a 3-3 record heading into their Week 7 bye.
Flores, who is in the middle of his second season as the Dolphins' coach, said that the decision, while difficult, was "the best thing for the team" moving forward. Tagovailoa, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 draft, completed his first two NFL passes near the end of Sunday's 24-0 win over the Jets. His first career start will take place at home against the Rams in Week 8.
"Fitz has been great," Flores told reporters. "I don't know if anybody has been more instrumental in trying to instill a culture and embody a lot of the things we're looking for in terms of toughness, competitiveness, [being] team first. He's made an impact on Tua but a lot of other players on this team. I have great respect for him, and that made this decision very tough. But at the end of the day, we felt like this was the best move for our team now moving forward. But we feel like with Fitz, the way he handles himself and his impact on this team, I feel like it will still be there. But he's been a tremendous asset and leader on this team."
After a 1-3 start, the Dolphins have won consecutive games by a combined score of 67-17. While Miami's defense has played a major role in the Dolphins' recent turnaround, Fitzpatrick also played a significant role, throwing six touchdowns and completing 73% of his passes over the past two games. Flores said that he does not anticipate the offense undergoing significant changes with Tagovailoa under center. Flores did stress multiple times that it will take a team effort as it relates to how successful the Dolphins' offense will be moving forward.
"I'm confident in all of our players, Tua included," Flores said. "He's practiced well, he's worked hard in meetings and walkthroughs. He's got good rapport with teammates. I'm confident that, if he prepares the way that he's been preparing, I'm confident that we'll go out and have good results. But it's not a one man game. It's football. We'll need all 11 guys to go out there and play together [and] play as a team. And I'm confident that we can do that."
Flores did not hide his disappointment in how the news of Miami's quarterback switch was announced, as he said that he would have preferred to address the team of his decision before it was leaked to the public.
"Unfortunately, that's the way of the world right now," Flores said. "That's unfortunate. I'm not happy about that at all. I'll address that to the team and apologize to the team that they had to find out through social media. I don't think that's fair to them."