Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier gave rookie Tua Tagovailoa a strong endorsement Tuesday, which may tamp down speculation about the team’s draft plans.
Or not. Grier declined to discuss the draft, when Miami has the No. 3 overall pick and could take a quarterback in the first round for the second year in a row.
Grier spoke two days after Tagovailoa’s worst game of the season in a drubbing at Buffalo that cost Miami a playoff berth.
“Tua we’re very happy with,” Grier said. “He’s our starting quarterback. He did a nice job this year coming in as a rookie with no offseason, and the challenges of dealing with all that. We’re very happy with him, and looking forward to watching him progress here with an offseason.”
Tagovailoa will continue to work with offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, who came out of retirement a year ago and turned 69 Tuesday. Coach Brian Flores said he expects his entire coaching staff to return for the 2021 season.
Flores declined to discuss the likelihood that 38-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick will return as Miami's backup quarterback.
Grier’s assessment of Tagovailoa echoed Flores’ praise for the rookie after Sunday’s finale. The No. 5 overall pick last year, Tagolvailoa went 6-3 as a starter but was benched by Flores in the fourth quarter of two games.
The Dolphins have two picks in the first round and two in the second. Even if they don't draft a quarterback, they're expected to invest heavily in upgrading the offense.
“We’re excited to have the picks we have,” Grier said. “There are some good players. We’re excited about the future here and what we can do for ’21.”
The Dolphins went 10-6, doubling their win total in Year 2 under Flores with a team that was among the NFL’s youngest.
“I don’t think there’s any question that Brian is the coach of the year,” Grier said. “He hates when I say it, but to win 10 games with what we have — a rookie quarterback and eight rookies playing on offense — Brian and his staff did an unbelievable job.”
However, the Dolphins still haven't been to the playoffs since 2016, haven’t won a playoff game since 2000 and haven’t reached the Super Bowl since 1984.
Grier and Flores declined to list any of those achievements as a specific target for 2021.
“The goal is to get better every day,” Flores said, “and let the results take care of themselves.”
Said Grier: “We never set a timetable for anything. It’s just about getting better every day.”
Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Steve_Wine
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL