The Miami Dolphins are embarking on one of the more impressive and thorough rebuilds in recent NFL memory, beginning with their selection of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa at No. 5 overall in last year's draft and continuing with seven picks in last month's draft.
Head coach Brian Flores has plenty of faith that the process will work, despite a shaky rookie campaign from Tagovailoa.
"I think we've got a lot of young players, and we're looking for all of those players as well as really everyone on our team to improve in a variety of ways," Flores told NBC Sports' Peter King. "If they're putting all the work in, I expect them to improve, get better, and perform better. Tua is obviously at the top of that list. He’s been working."
The second-year head coach continued:
"All signs point to—or I would say based on my experience—he’s doing everything necessary to make some improvements. That’s really all we can ask for. My thing is if you put the work in, the results will take care of themselves. Last year's situation is ... we've talked about this numerous times. If he had started the season, we wouldn't have pulled him. We put him in. We're in a playoff chase. At that point [second half in game 15, at Las Vegas, when Ryan Fitzpatrick entered in relief], it's hey, we've got to do whatever we've got to do to try to win. But no, my confidence wasn't shaken in him."
As a rookie last season—and a rookie coming off of a brutal hip injury without a proper offseason at that—Tagovailoa made nine starts and accumulated 1,814 yards, 11 touchdowns and 5 interceptions through the air over 10 total appearances. The Alabama product made his debut by replacing Fitzpatrick in an Oct. 18 blowout win over the New York Jets, and he was competing for starting reps with the journeyman veteran for the duration of the season.
The Dolphins, who surprised many by finishing last season at 10-6 and just narrowly missing the playoffs, seem to be doing everything they can to set up Tagovailoa for long-term success. With the sixth overall pick on April 29, Miami selected Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle to reunite him with his quarterback from 2018-19.