The relationship between a veteran quarterback tasked to be the “bridge” between a franchise’s present and its future and the guy who was drafted to “be” that future isn’t always a smooth one. The most classic example of how those relationships can turn sour stems from the Green Bay Packers, where Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre ultimately had to face the music and cede his job to future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers.
While that situation ultimately worked out for the best for those in Green Bay, it is, of course, easier on everyone when the mentor can take the mentee under his wing and teach him a few things. Just look at how Patrick Mahomes benefited from learning under locker room-favorite Alex Smith in Kansas City.
According to Miami Dolphins incumbent starter and “bridge” quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, his relationship with future starter and fifth-overall draft pick Tua Tagovailoa will be far more like the latter than the former. In fact, per Fitzpatrick, he and Tagovailoa are already hitting it off. “Meeting him in person finally the other day, I’m really excited,” Fitzpatrick said in a recent interview. “I think we hit it off. Even though I’m an old geezer to him, we’ve meshed personality-wise and I’m excited to work with him.”
Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald collected a few more quotes from Fitzpatrick’s virtual press conference, and from those quotes, it’s clear the relationship between the bearded wizard and his Hawaiian apprentice is going to be a good one. Fitzpatrick seems to have full confidence in not only Tagovailoa’s football acumen, but also his ability to lead a team.
I don’t know, he’s a really interesting guy. He’s got a lot of energy to him. You can just tell guys are going to gravitate to him. There’s something about him that’s very likable and I can already tell he’s going to be one of those guys that gets along with everybody that guys are going to follow. He just has that air about him. And part of it is probably the way he played in college and just the name and reputation he’s built for himself. But there’s not a whole lot of ego involved and he’s very likable so, I don’t know, just the general conversations whether about football or life — it’s been really fun so far.
Regarding the dynamic between veteran starter and rookie backup in the QB room, Fitzpatrick explained that he’s ready to go full mentor-mode for Tagovailoa. “I mean, I’m going to go out there and compete every single day as I know the younger guys are,” Fitzpatrick started. “But in the meeting rooms, I’m not going to keep anything to myself, either. I’m going to make someone tell me to shut up because I’m going to talk as much as I can and share as much as I can with the intimate knowledge I have with this offense, being in it for five years, and the experience since I’ve been in the league.”
Fitzpatrick knows his time as a starter with the Dolphins is limited. There’s no doubt, given what we’ve seen from him both on the field and on the podium, that Fitzpatrick loves the game of football. He loves to play. He also knows the Dolphins drafted Tagovailoa to be the quarterback of the future.
Commenting on that situation, Fitzpatrick said “I don’t know how much time it will be before Tua is in the lineup. I know I am the placeholder and we’ve already had that conversation. I told him, I’m going to do the best I can to lead this team and win football games when I’m out there.”
Simply stated, Fitzpatrick is just as excited for Tagovailoa to get his shot as the rest of Miami’s football fans are. The journeyman gunslinger continued, “And whenever it is that Tua gets his chance, whether it’s early or late or whenever it is, I’m going to be his biggest cheerleader. I think I have a unique perspective just from the career I’ve had and I was really excited they drafted him.”
Miami Dolphins fans, players, and most importantly, Tua himself, are damn fortunate Fitzmagic decided to join the aqua and orange.