Ryan Fitzpatrick opens up about 'difficult' Tua-Flores relationship

Ryan Fitzpatrick has been impressed by the impact of Tyreek Hill as well as how Tua Tagovailoa has looked in completing several deep passes early this season.

"The surprising thing for me and the thing that I can't wait to see continue," Fitzpatrick said Tuesday. "Some of those down-the-field balls. You know, a lot of the discussion has been really he can't throw it far. He's done it in some big moments."

Fitzpatrick is a former Dolphins quarterback who is now an analyst for Amazon's Prime Video coverage of Thursday Night's Miami at Cincinnati game.

As a player and now an analyst, Fitzpatrick is candid.

Several times on a Zoom call with Miami media members, Fitzpatrick cited what he believes to be the positive impact of coach Mike McDaniel's approach with Tua in contrast to former coach Brian Flores.

"(McDaniel's) all about preaching confidence to a guy  and building him up, rather than trying to break him down," Fitzpatrick said. "And I think that's translated well, so far to the field."

Fitzpatrick, who played with Miami in Tua's rookie season of 2020, noted essentially that Flores really believed in tough love and intense mental challenging and that it may have added more stress than necessary.

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McDaniel's way, Fitzpatrick suggested, is meshing well with Tua.

"I really do think a lot of this early success, is the way he's being coached and the relationship that he has with the head coach," Fitzpatrick said. "Because I think that was a huge sticking point and something that just was difficult for him in the first few years.

"And I don't want to speak for him. But I'm sure it's evident to everybody the way that Mike McDaniel has come in and embraced Tua and made sure that he knows that he's the guy and that he's loved and that they're on the same team, and trying to have success together. I think that's been really helpful for his mentality."

Fitzpatrick sees a more confident Tua. Fitzpatrick sees a McDaniel offensive scheme that enables explosive plays and creates advantages through motion and a dedication to the run game.

Ryan Fitzpatrick (left) was a mentor for Tua Tagovailoa (right) but it was a bit awkward at times because Fitzpatrick had so much more experience and former coach Brian Flores would pull Tua from games.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (left) was a mentor for Tua Tagovailoa (right) but it was a bit awkward at times because Fitzpatrick had so much more experience and former coach Brian Flores would pull Tua from games.

The long-time NFL quarterback praises Tua's accuracy and timing. So what would it take for Tua to be routinely lumped in with dynamic young AFC signal-callers like Josh Alen, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and Deshaun Watson?

"The biggest thing is just consistency, which is a hard thing, and something I chased for my whole career," Fitzpatrick conceded. "It's going to be finding that consistency, because now we've seen him do it, we've seen him do it at the highest level."

Fitzpatrick noted that after a quarterback passes for more than 400 yards and six touchdowns, opposing defensive coordinators will spend a lot of time trying to identify ways to exploit Miami's quarterback and offense. How can they force Tua into more plays that may exploit potential weaknesses?

What's the next step for Tua?

"It's gonna be for him decision making," Fitzpatrick said. "And can he process and make those decisions quick enough, and be consistent enough with his decision making. That's going to lead to successful, not just plays, but games, and then you know, stringing them together So that's going to be the biggest thing for him. And it's, it's got to be you know, something that's just going to continue to come with experience."

Flores was fired by Miami despite a 19-14 overall record in 2020 and '21. Flores, even in that so-called "tank" season of 2019 really wanted to win and so that's why he went to Fitzpatrick in a few late-game  situation in 2020.

"There was the Denver game that I came in in the fourth quarter, and there was the Las Vegas game and I came in the fourth quarter," Fitzpatrick said. "I think that was that was kind of an admission by coach for us that there were certain aspects of (Tua's) game that weren't ready yet, because he was young in terms of the two minute drill and being able to do some of that stuff efficiently.

"But he's so talented, that it was time to get him on the field and get them to learn. And so I thought (Tua) did a great job with that year, because that wasn't easy. showing up to work every day having a smile on his face. And so, after I left, there was some things that got even rockier with that relationship. I just think it was so refreshing when Mike came in. To have a coach in Mike that, you know, felt like you guys were on the same page on the same team trying to pull in the same direction"

Fitzpatrick said he's really enjoyed watching Tua's growth and development. And he's looking forward to visiting with McDaniel, who he perceives as having not a lot of ego but plenty of personality and confidence.

"It just seems like he's very comfortable in who he is," Fitzpatrick said.

Joe Schad is a journalist at the Palm Beach Post part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach him at jschad@pbpost.comHelp support our journalism. Subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Ryan Fitzpatrick on Tua Tagovailoa, Brian Flores, Mike McDaniel