MIAMI — Dolphins coach Brian Flores gave a public endorsement Friday of Tua Tagovailoa, after rumors of a potential trade for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson again flared earlier this week.
“I don’t really get into rumors — Tua is our quarterback,” Flores said when asked about Watson. “We’re happy with the quarterback, our quarterback situation. I’ll leave it at that, which I’ve said multiple times.”
The Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday that a trade between Miami and Houston could be finalized this week involving Watson, who is facing 22 active lawsuits alleging sexual assault and inappropriate behavior. He requested a trade in January before the first such lawsuit was levied against him, and he has not played in or been active for any game this season.
Tagovailoa, who missed three games with fractured ribs, led the Dolphins to their lone win of the season in Week 1; they’re currently on a five-game losing streak.
Flores previously backed Tagovailoa during a team meeting the week leading up to Miami’s win over the Patriots. He publicly called Tagovailoa “our quarterback” later that week, saying it was important for players and coaches to feel as if they have their organization’s support.
“I think it means a lot with it coming from the head coach,” Tagovailoa said in September. “The support that I have from him and from the team, it means a lot.”
The No. 5 pick in 2020 has thrown for 544 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in three games this season, although he played only six snaps against the Buffalo Bills in Week 2 before leaving with fractured ribs. He returned from injured reserve for Miami’s loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, completing 33 of 47 passes for 329 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception.
Flores praised Tagovailoa’s play this season, as well as the way he conducts himself throughout the week.
“I think his preparation, the way he practices and the way he performs has been good. I thought he played very well last week,” Flores said. “I think his psyche is in a good place. He’s a confident kid, he’s a tough kid and really, he’s played in two games this year, so he should have a lot of confidence in the way he’s played. We have a lot of confidence in him because of the way he’s played.
“He’s developing. I think this kid is smart, I think he’s, I think he’s talented. I think he’s accurate, I think he definitely has the opportunity to be a very good NFL player. … There’s always bumps in the road for anyone in any career, any profession. You have to work through those and you become better for it.”
Rumors about the Dolphins trading for Watson have swirled for months, with Miami reportedly being the quarterback’s preferred destination. However, Watson has yet to face punishment from the NFL while the investigations into the allegations about his behavior continue. Houston has made clear its intentions to keep Watson sidelined, but it is unclear whether he would be allowed to play this season if he were traded to a different team.
Flores said his players are blocking out things that are “going on outside of our building” as they prepare to host the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday
“Some of us have probably heard about it, but as of right now — it’s just a distraction at the end of the day,” rookie tackle Liam Eichenberg said. “The most important thing this week is we’re playing the Falcons and we need a win. I think that’s everybody’s thought right now is to focus on the Falcons.”