A year ago the Miami Dolphins were looking for another quarterback after deciding to part with incumbent Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins had a chance to sign Teddy Bridgewater and Tyrod Taylor. For whatever reason, neither quarterback decided to sign with the Dolphins so they went to their third option in Ryan Fitzpatrick. I felt at the time Fitzpatrick was the right quarterback to sign because the team was fully rebuilding and was going to go find a young quarterback to groom and he was a good bridge quarterback. A year later I feel as strong as last year the team made the right decision.
Fitzpatrick helped lead this young team to 5 wins last year including a last-minute comeback win over the New England Patriots in Foxborough. Fitzpatrick throughout the year as leader of the team who brought passion and energy this team needed as it was going through the start of their rebuilding. The team rallied around him and the team got better.
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After the season, Fitzpatrick knew the Dolphins were going to draft a young quarterback in the draft and was fully on board with mentoring whoever they drafted. The guy the Dolphins drafted was Tua Tagovailoa with the 5th pick in the draft. As the players reported to the facility for the first time Fitzpatrick and Tagovailoa finally met in person and they both have hit it off very well. Fitzpatrick even said he is going to compete and he knows he is going to give way to Tagovailoa at some point and will be his biggest cheerleader when that time comes. He also said because of his familiarity with new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey’s offense, he will help the young quarterbacks and offense through the transition.
Fitzpatrick and Tagovailoa seem to have the same qualities in each other. They both are charismatic guys and lead that commands the respect of their teammates. It’s very refreshing to see this in a veteran and a young rookie quarterback. They both have passion and energy that will rub off on their teammates. They both also want to do well and get better each time they go out and play.
I’ve seen over the years teams have a veteran and bring in a young quarterback and things don’t work out well, but in this case, this is a perfect fit. Fitzpatrick is 37 years old and realizes his career is coming to an end. He wants to help mentor Tagovailoa and wants him to succeed, but obviously he isn’t going to give up his starting job. Tagovailoa can learn what it takes to become a professional quarterback from Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick has a lot of knowledge that can rub off on Tagovailoa.
I think every young rookie quarterback can benefit from a veteran quarterback. When Dan Marino was a rookie quarterback in 1983, he had the benefit of learning from Don Strock in his early years. Strock embraced mentoring Marino and Marino welcomed Strock’s guidance to help him become a better quarterback. I really believe the thing is going to happen with Fitzpatrick as he passes the torch to Tagovailoa.
I think when the season starts Fitzpatrick will open as the starter because with no real off-season or preseason games it would be best to go with the veteran. Plus it wouldn’t hurt for Tagovailoa to watch the speed of the game and learn. The other thing is the offensive line isn’t settled and could have 4 new starters on opening day so it will take time for the line to come together and Tagovailoa is coming off a broken hip from last November so he could be susceptible to some hits with the line not settled to start the season. However, if Tagovailoa is practicing and playing better than Fitzpatrick, then head coach Brian Flores will have a decision to make if he feel the rookie is ready.