The Miami Dolphins weren't hesitant to yank Tua Tagovailoa when he wasn't performing well. Tagovailoa, who was limited in practice all week with a foot injury, was pulled in the fourth quarter in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick in Sunday's 20-13 loss to the Denver Broncos. Tagovailoa wasn't playing well prior to the benching, completing 11 of 20 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown as the Dolphins offense struggled to get first downs -- yet alone points.
The surprising benching didn't phase Tagovailoa, who's the biggest critic of his own performance.
"My thoughts were, whatever was going to be best for the team," Tagovailoa said after the game. "When I was in, we couldn't really get things going and Coach felt like it was the best decision to put 'Fitz' in to give us a spark. When I heard that -- it's really what's best for the team.
"If we were to win with Fitz in there, the locker room would be a lot different and everyone would be a lot happier. It just sucks to lose."
Fitzpatrick finished 12 of 18 for 117 yards with an interception in his two possessions, nearly leading the Dolphins to a comeback. Miami ran 21 plays for 123 yards when Fitzpatrick was in, as his interception came when Miami trailed 20-13 on a third-and-8 shot to the end zone from the Broncos' 15-yard line with 1:10 to play. Miami averaged 5.9 yards per play when Fitzpatrick was in the game compared to 2.4 yards when Tagovailoa played.
The Dolphins ran 42 plays for 100 yards when Tagovailoa was in, with five three-and-outs in eight possessions. Tagovailoa has completed 61.9% of his passes for 602 yards and six touchdowns to zero interceptions for a 100.1 passer rating in five games this season.
Brian Flores isn't set to go back to Fitzpatrick with the Dolphins a game out of the AFC East. In the words of the Dolphins head coach, no changes at quarterback, and the foot injury had nothing to do with Tagovailoa's benching.
"He played against a good defensive group. They did a good job," Flores said. "I think they ended up with five or six sacks, they pressured us, they did a good job on the back end from a coverage standpoint, and we just struggled to get going. When that's going on throughout the course of a game, you've got to try to do something to create some momentum. That's why we made the switch. He's (Tua Tagovailoa) healthy."