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Bruce Arians would start Tua Tagovailoa, if he’s healthy

The Dolphins have three competent quarterbacks, including rookie Tua Tagovailoa. Coach Brian Flores showed in 2019 a willingness to play the best guy, period. It’s unclear whether he’ll do that in 2020, or whether he’ll get the rookie on the field in order to get him the reps needed for his future development.

Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians recently was asked whether he’d go with Tua or a veteran. Arians was, as he always is, direct and clear.

“I think it all depends on his health; if he’s healthy I’m playing him,” Arians told 100.9 FM in Alabama, via

Tagovailoa suffered a fractured hip last year at Alabama. Doctors have expressed confidence that he’s ready to go for his rookie season.

“I don’t think you learn anything holding a clipboard,” Arians added. “You know, I had Peyton Manning his first year, Andrew Luck his first year, Ben [Roethlisberger] was one of those guys that went in by accident because Tommy Maddox got hurt. You miss all the practice reps, you miss the game reps. I don’t know what you learn holding a clipboard watching.”

He’s right, but the balance becomes whether the Dolphins are more likely to win with Ryan Fitzpatrick or Tua. If Flores believes the team is better off with Fitzpatrick, what should Flores do?

Last year, as the Dolphins were trying to determine the ceiling of Josh Rosen, the 10th pick in 2018, Flores decided to go with the older player, because Flores gave them a better chance to win.

Here’s one key point to remember in this regard: It’s much easier to start with Fitz and switch to Tua than to start with Tua and switch to Fitz. Once the hand-picked franchise quarterback is in the fray, benching him won’t help his development or confidence.