The Tua Tagovailoa Era has officially started.
And for Dolphins fans, this is an exciting time.
But lost in the transition from the 37-year old journeyman to the young Samoan Southpaw is that the Miami Dolphins undisputed leader in the locker room—is no longer the team’s starting QB.
So, while we were all fangirling over Tagovailoa being named the team’s starting quarterback (guilty), let’s take time to address the elephant in the room. And that is that without Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Miami Dolphins would not be headed in the upward trajectory they currently are.
Without Ryan Fitzpatrick, this team doesn’t win five games in 2019.
And they most likely don’t start the season 3-3 with an opportunity to remain In the Hunt with ten games to go.
Most importantly, however, the culture that Flores and his staff continue to build within the locker room might not be the same. Scratch that,it wouldn’t be the same.
flores on fitzpatrick: "fitz has been great. i don't think anyone has been more instrumental in trying to instill a culture or embody a lot of the things we're looking for. toughness, competitiveness, team first.... i have great respect for him. that made the decision tough."— josh houtz (@houtz) October 21, 2020
If it were up to me, I probably would’ve started Tua from the beginning. But with an unprecedented offseason and a new offensive system in place, Fitzpatrick was always going to be the team’s starting quarterback.
But now, it’s time. #TuaTime.
And I get it. I respect it, and I’m ready to yell from the rooftops, “I love Tua Tagovailoa.”
But as we sit here and count down the days until the Left Arm of God’s debut, let’s take a moment to remember how much of an impact Fitzpatrick had on this team. How, despite being knocked on his buttocks countless times in 2019, never batted an eye. When a play needed to be made, Fitzpatrick would do whatever it takes to make something—anything, happen. Hell, he even led the team in rushing last season.
I was 400 words deep into this article when I was fortunate enough to sit in on today’s Zoom meetings. And I will say, the reaction from Fitzpatrick is not something I expected. But who can blame him? He is playing some of the best football of his NFL career. To be benched now seems a bit strange, but I trust in Brian Flores. And as you all know, I very much believe in Tua’s skills.
fitz: "i've been benched a lot of ways. but this one...what we've been through as an organization. this was kinda the first place other than BUF that i just felt fully committed and invested. and it felt like it was my team. to have that,i think that's why my heart was so heavy."— josh houtz (@houtz) October 21, 2020
The premise of this article isn’t to make you feel bad for the 37-year-old veteran. He’s been in this situation several times before. And whether he’s been supplanted by a veteran or a young rookie, he’s always bounced back.
But hearing the heartbreak, the uncertainty from Fitzpatrick during today’s press conference—it hurt.
ryan fitzpatrick:" i just know that i love playing this game. being out there. the comradery that that brings and dealing with adversity with your teammates. those are the things i truly love."i definitely like playing more than i like watching."— josh houtz (@houtz) October 21, 2020
I don’t know what lies ahead for Ryan Fitzpatrick and his NFL career. But I’m thankful for what he did to help turn this franchise around. To help Brian Flores and his staff instill the proper culture and help make the Dolphins a respectable franchise again.
Before his time in Miami, all I knew of him was that he was a gunslinger that could grow one heck of a beard. I’ve slowly learned over the last year and a half there is much more to Ryan Fitzpatrick than meets the eye.
It might be Tua time now, but I will always be a fan —not only of the player, but the man—Ryan Fitzpatrick.
How do you feel about today’s press conferences? What about Tua Tagovailoa and Ryan Fitzpatrick?
Let us know in the comments section below.
Missed this week’s episode of Phinsider Radio?