Someone forgot to tell Ryan Fitzpatrick that he should be on clipboard duty for the Miami Dolphins by now. With the team too green to contend just yet and future franchise quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in place, plenty of fans assumed Fitzpatrick would relinquish his starting job by now.
They figured wrong. After another week of speculation that his tenure as the starter had run its course, Fitzpatrick was masterful in Week 5 vs. the San Francisco 49ers.
You’d swear that Fitz rallies in the face of doubt and adversity just to mess with your mind.
So, where will Ryan Fitzpatrick play next year?
Despite everything that he is doing thus far, it’s a given that Ryan Fitzpatrick won’t be the quarterback of the Miami Dolphins in 2021. That’s not the sort of QB that he is, particularly now at the age of 37.
Fitzpatrick is a journeyman in the final year of his contract, the Dolphins are his eighth team in 16 NFL seasons, and rookie Tua Tagovailoa is the obvious heir in Miami. The Dolphins will continue to be a work in progress in 2021, but the rebuilding process will be far enough along that Tagovailoa can be entrusted with taking them to the next level – batting the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots in the AFC East.
Fitzpatrick’s destination will be any of a half-dozen NFL teams currently facing the realization that the incumbent QB isn’t in their plans for 2021 and that whoever is drafted next April could stand to learn behind a veteran with a Harvard education.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has created a short-term dilemma
Realistically, Tua Tagovailoa has to get on the field for some meaningful action this season. The former Alabama star was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. He can learn a lot from watching Ryan Fitzpatrick for now, but he needs playing time this fall so that he already has a feel for the speed of the game when he arrives at training camp as the No. 1 QB next summer.
The problem is that the Dolphins may only be 2-3 in the early going, but they’re competitive. And they owe it largely to the veteran QB who pulls a Rocky Balboa every time the going gets tough.
Fitzpatrick opened the season with a three-pick game and a modest 191 passing yards in the loss to the New England Patriots. Not surprisingly, it generated a wave of speculation that the Tagovailoa Era would be starting any day now.
However, Fitzpatrick rallied. He threw for two touchdowns and no interceptions in each of the next two games, including Miami’s first victory of the season. Naturally, though, the Tagovailoa watch resumed when Fitzpatrick went 29-for-45 for 315 yards, no TDs, and two interceptions in a Week 4 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
He’s bought himself more time
Week 5 against the San Francisco 49ers will earn Ryan Fitzpatrick a respite from the chatter about how it’s Tua Tagovailoa’s time to take over. After a week of hearing the doubts, Fitzpatrick was masterful in the 43-17 rout of the defending NFC champions. He completed 22 of 28 attempts for 350 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. His passer rating for the game was 154.5.
Asked whether talk of putting Tagovailoa on the field fueled his performance, Fitzpatrick brushed off the notion:
“I’ve been called every name in the book. People hate me, people love me depending on the week, but again just trying to stay steady and knowing that all that outside noise isn’t the thing that’s important. The thing that was important was practicing and getting everybody ready and that’s the formula we’ll just continue to stick to.”Ryan Fitzpatrick
Said coach Brian Flores: “The guys rallied around him and his energy, he’s got great leadership. Again, if he plays the way he played today, it really kind of permeates throughout the team.”
And make no mistake about it: The Dolphins continue to be Fitzpatrick’s team for a while longer, no matter how eager their fans are to see the new guy in action.