Rocky start to Dolphins' QB transition to Tua Tagovailoa

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Miami Dolphins quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) and Tua Tagovailoa (1) warm up before an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

MIAMI – The Miami Dolphins' transition to Tua Tagovailoa didn’t start the way coach Brian Flores intended, and deposed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said the surprising timing left him heartbroken.

Flores said he regretted that most of his players found out about the change through social media rather than from him, and said benching Fitzpatrick was a difficult decision.

“Fitz has done a great job,” Flores said Wednesday. “But we felt like for the team now, moving forward, this is a move we need to make.”

Tagovailoa, the fifth pick in the April draft, will make his first NFL start on Nov. 1 against the Los Angeles Rams after Miami's bye this week.

The Dolphins (3-3) have won their past two games by a combined score of 67-17, and Fitzpatrick said he was shocked by the timing of his demotion.

“It definitely caught me off guard,” the 16-year veteran said. “It was a hard thing for me to hear. Digesting the news, my heart just hurt all day.

"This eventually was going to happen; it was a matter of when and not if. It’s still a tough thing for me to hear, and to now have to deal with. But I'm going to do my best.”

Flores told Fitzpatrick and Tagovailoa of his decision Tuesday, but the news leaked before the coach could share it with other players.