Tuesday was a bizarre day in Dolphins town. Rumors swirled about Xavien Howard’s trade availability and the team went so far as to call out Miami’s Sun-Sentinel newspaper for inaccurate reporting, denying any reports saying that he was being shopped.

If you thought that the whole episode was both confusing and amusing at the same time, then we agree. It was… something.

But that’s not what I was going to write about today, so we’ll get back to that in a minute!

With the bye week now behind us, the Miami Dolphins’ preparations for a week eight home game against the Rams are well underway. And that preparation features rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa under center (or in shotgun, if you’re a stickler).

Looking ahead to this week’s game, however (one of the most anticipated in a long time for Dolphins fans), will be the topic of tomorrow’s article. In the meantime, there are a few topics worth discussing from the bye week.

First and foremost, the rest of the AFC East played in week seven. And it wasn’t especially pretty.

The Jets got beat (again), but this time managed to keep the game close until late when they were thoroughly stifled on offense. The surprising part? That the team who barely beat them was none other than the division-rival Buffalo Bills. It’s likely that the Bills get their act back together soon, but they’ve floundered a bit the past few weeks. What’s more, is that Josh Allen’s play has dropped back off after a spectacular start.

As for the Patriots? You won’t hear me saying that the dynasty is over. Not yet. I’m far too wary of Belichick to say that, but the fact is that they looked bad against the 49ers on Sunday.

Very, very bad.

Cam Newton has struggled in recent weeks and on Sunday coughed up three picks to go with only 98 yards passing. He looked terrible. And once the blowout was on, backup Jarrett Stidham threw another interception. The defense also struggled to contain a 49ers offense that the Dolphins shut down just a few weeks back, but the quarterback play is a far cry from the now-passed days of Tom Brady.

This is all music to Dolphins fans’ ears, and rightfully so. The Jets are still horrible, the Bills have struggled the past few weeks, and the Patriots look on the verge of collapse (though I won’t believe it until the season is actually over and Bill Belichick can’t conjure up some miraculous finish to the year).

The AFC East is still wide open, and the Dolphins have a legitimate chance to claim the title if they play the way they have the past couple of weeks.

Moving on to another bye-week topic, there was plenty of chatter surrounding the quarterback that Miami has relegated to being second-string, Ryan Fitzpatrick. 

We all saw or read about Fitzpatrick’s comments during his media availability once the news broke on the quarterback change, and probably don’t want to dredge those up again.

It was, in a word, sad.

Say what you will about Fitzpatrick knowing the change was coming, but the reality is that he has a right to want to start and he was playing mostly well. How the news broke, with a leak rather than an official announcement to the team, also wasn’t fair to the veteran QB. Those heartfelt comments to the media were also prompted by reporters, so don’t blame Fitz’s for a moment of complete honesty. He deserved that much.

I’ll end my brief defense of Fitzpatrick by asking this: Have you heard a peep from him since the change was announced? No, because now it’s back to business. Fitz is a veteran, a professional, and a good guy. He knows that what’s passed is passed.

And now because of the lineup move, the Tua Train has left the station. So where exactly does that leave Fitzpatrick?

In my eyes, the team would be hesitant to part ways with Fitz in a trade because of the value he still has to the club. On Tuesday, Chan Gailey said that while they’ll do what’s best for the team, he’d really hate to part ways with Fitz. Even as the team has rallied around Tua (apparently they don’t listen much to ESPN and their off-target takes), Fitzpatrick’s presence in the locker room is a factor and what’s more, he has definite utility as the backup quarterback. Beyond Tua and Fitz it’s slim pickings for the Dolphins at QB, and there’s an argument to be made that the veteran is one of the best backups in the league given his play as the starter through six games. 

And don’t forget this crucial fact — even as the backup, he’ll be a mentor to Tua through the good and the bad at least through the remainder of this season. That guidance, especially from someone as knowledgeable as Fitz, cannot be overlooked.

So for my money, a trade involving Fitz is unlikely. He’s also not the type of guy to cut bait even after the team handed the reins to Tua. He said himself that he has a real connection with this 2020 squad.

Moving on from the Fitzpatrick trade talk, I was going to dive into the national sensation that’s been caused by the team moving from the bearded vet to the highly-touted rookie as the starter. The whole debate turned into such a frenzy, however, that I’d rather not beat a dead horse. The most I’ll do is a brief summary for those unaware…

ESPN: “The Dolphins are screwing everything up! Why sit Fitz when he’s playing well! That offensive line is terrible and Tua is as good as dead!”

Matt Hasselbeck: *checks notes, finds only a bold-faced heading reading ‘GIVE A HOT TAKE’* “That locker room RESENTS the fact that the starting job was just handed to Tua like that.”

Rex Ryan: *Surprisingly the voice of reason on NFL Gameday* “Ummm, guys, I think the move kind of makes sense. Fitz can’t play this well forever and there’s a reason they drafted Tua in the first place.”

And finally, Stone Cold Brian Flores: “There is no division on this team. We pick each other up. We’ve got each other’s backs. We did what we felt was best for the team. Period.”

(I was paraphrasing, in case anyone was wondering)

So there’s that. No drama and no division on the team or in the locker room concerning the move to Tua as the starting QB. In fact, many of the players and coaches have spent the beginning of the week publicly gushing about the rookie. Props to Flores for setting the record straight and fostering the kind of locker room that has no reason to be dragged through the mud by the national media. 

Speaking of media frenzies, Omar Kelly generated a huge amount of buzz when he reported Tuesday that the Dolphins are fielding offers for cornerback Xavien Howard. The team then came out and publicly called the report inaccurate and based on rumors. It was quite a spectacle.

Give Omar the benefit of the doubt, however, because it’s true that Dolphins GM Chris Grier isn’t afraid to make trades and is likely to at least hear teams out, as he should. So X probably stays, but recall a similar situation happened with Laremy Tunsil a few years back. This time, however, the team went out of its way to deny the report, and Bill O’Brien won’t be calling to offer a treasure trove of picks. So the likelihood is decidedly low. Besides, if I’m the Dolphins I’m probably not letting Howard go anywhere; he leads the league in picks this season and is still in his prime. 

The NFL trade deadline of November 3rd is quickly approaching, but expect Xavien Howard to stay put in Miami as part of one of the best cornerback tandems in the league. If Miami makes any move, it would likely be to bring in a running back, receiver, or reinforcements along the defensive line, specifically along the interior. Then again, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from this new regime in Miami, it’s to expect the unexpected at times. 

Such a move would be a perfect way to build on a bizarre Tuesday, in the middle of an even more bizarre year. 

(stay tuned for another article from me coming out tomorrow previewing the Rams game and, more importantly, outlining some expectations for rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa moving forward)