DAVIE, Fla. (AP) _ The Miami Dolphins' new coach decided the team needs a change at quarterback, too.
A.J. Feeley will replace Jay Fiedler as the starter Sunday at Seattle, interim coach Jim Bates said Monday. It's Miami's most significant personnel move since coach Dave Wannstedt resigned last week.
Wannstedt drew criticism for his loyalty to the older, more experienced Fiedler. Excluding two games early this season, Fiedler has been the No. 1 quarterback since 2000.
It's time for A.J. to get an opportunity and see what he can do,'' Bates said.He's ready to play for us, and ready to play well.''
Regarding the perception that his relationship with Wannstedt became strained, Feeley said, ``I'm indifferent on it. That's in the past. I'm moving forward. I'm not worried about what happened the first 10 weeks.''
Acquired in March for a second-round draft pick, Feeley replaced Fiedler midway through the season opener, started the second and third games, then returned to the bench. He has thrown six interceptions, with three returned for scores, and just two of his 114 passes have gone for touchdowns.
The game Sunday will be Feeley's 16th start since high school. Fewer mistakes should come with more experience, he said.
It's a matter of taking the easy ones and taking your shots when they come,'' he said.A lot of it is playing and getting the rhythm of the game.''
With the Dolphins at 1-8 and numerous offseason decisions looming, playing Feeley provides a chance to gauge his potential. When asked if he'll remain No. 1 the rest of the season, Bates said, ``We plan on A.J. playing well and playing well throughout.''
Fiedler, who led the Dolphins to their lone victory, goes to the bench with a record of 37-24 as a starter.
Obviously I'm upset,'' he said.I want to be out there. I want to be playing. But it's a decision I've got to accept, and I'll be ready to go.''
Bates said rookie left guard Rex Hadnot will likely make his first NFL start Sunday in place of Jeno James, who is recovering from knee surgery.
Otherwise the much-maligned offensive line will remain the same. That means youngsters Vernon Carey and Wade Smith stay on the bench, and struggling left tackle Damion McIntosh stays in the lineup.
Bates decided to continue as defensive coordinator rather than promote an assistant. He said linebackers coach Bob Sanders will make calls from the sideline during games, and secondary coach Mel Phillips will have more responsibility during the week.
Bates made his decisions over the bye weekend after consulting with the rest of the staff and studying tape of every Miami game this season. He also talked with former interim coaches, including Rick Venturi and Wade Phillips.
Feeley, a former University of Oregon star, will start in Seattle for the second time. He led Philadelphia to a 27-20 victory there in 2002.
He takes over a Miami offense that has made modest but noticeable progress lately. The Dolphins totaled 68 points in the past three games after scoring 55 in the first six.
At the quarterback position you want stability,'' tight end Randy McMichael said.Coach Bates made the change to A.J., and hopefully it'll stick. But you never know what's going to go on, especially with this team. It's so unpredictable right now.''
The Dolphins share the NFL's worst record, and they're one defeat from their first losing season since 1988.
We're real close to being a lot better,'' Bates said.The biggest thing is eliminating the bad plays _ the penalties and turnovers. Those are the areas that we have to improve on to give ourselves a chance to win.''