Ryan Fitzpatrick showed Gardner Minshew II exactly why the beard is bigger in the “stache in the Miami Dolphins” 31-13 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday at TIAA Bank Field.
In doing so, he also ensured that Tua Tagovailoa had a chance to grow his own beard before starting an NFL game.
Normally, an announced draft pick should begin when he’s ready. If it was from the start of his career or his first handful of pro games like Joe Burrow with the Cincinnati Bengals, so be it. Tagovailoa’s case is very different and Fitzpatrick is an important part of keeping the future of the franchise on the bench for as long as possible.
With this unique offseason, head coach Brian Flores was not ready to send a rookie signalman into the roster.–which made a veteran of Fitzpatrick’s caliber the easy choice to open the season behind center.
“A year like this without an OTA, mini-camp, modified training camp, we felt it would be the best decision for the team,” Flores told reporters when he named Fitzpatrick as the starter. “He did a good job throughout training camp, and he will be there. “
The coach’s points are undeniable. It’s difficult for any rookie to thrive in today’s landscape, especially a quarterback. But there were other issues the Dolphins needed to consider when it came to Tagovailoa’s playing status.
As a prospect, the Alabama product has fallen into an elite category thanks to its excellent ball placement, lightning-quick release and feel for the game.
“You can do things I couldn’t dream of doing,” Fitzpatrick, quoted by NFL Network play-by-play commentator Joe Buck, said in a pre-game interview.
However, the 22-year-old’s extensive injury history had to be taken into consideration. Tagovailoa is less than a year removed from a hip dislocation which included a posterior wall fracture. At the time, his career was in question. Luckily, the quarterback exceeded all expectations in his recovery and medics cleared him for all football activity at the end of July.
Even so, dolphins are right to be careful. Although the hip injury was the most concerning part of Tagovailoa’s medical history, he also suffered a fractured left index finger (his throwing hand), sprained right knee, sprained ankle on both legs, a broken nose and a concussion.
Owner Stephen Ross expressed his concern before Miami had a chance to recruit the talented flagman.
“I have been there [at Alabama] to see him. He’s a great player. I’m just worried about his health, “Ross said in January, according to ESPN. Cameron Wolfe. “… We’ll have to look at his health and everything and see what the alternatives are. “
The only difference between yesterday and today is that Tagovailoa is currently wearing the team’s aqua, orange and white uniforms.
Steven Senne / Associated press
A healthy year could do wonders for the fearless gunslinger. While Tagovailoa’s body gets just right after being beaten for consecutive seasons, there isn’t a lot of logic in playing it with a rebuilt offensive line that includes four new starters, including a pair of rookies.–Austin Jackson et Solomon Kindley–starting with the left tackle and the right guard respectively.
Once that’s all sorted out, especially along the top five, the idea of Tagovailoa leaving makes a lot more sense. But in the NFL, it’s rare for patience to prevail when a first-round quarterback sits on the sidelines watching a veteran quarterback fight.
After the New England Patriots defense intercepted Fitzpatrick three times in Game 1 of the season and Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen easily outperformed Fitzpatrick in Week 2, that patience was put on hold. to the test.
“There is a great sense of urgency in this building,” Flores told reporters after the 31-28 loss to the Bills on Sunday. “Guys want to be good, they want to win, they want to improve, they want to improve. There is definitely a sense of urgency. “
What Fitzpatrick delivered on Thursday is exactly what the franchise needs right now. His vigor and presence on the pitch can provide a spark for the young team as he serves as a mentor to Tagovailoa, who absorbs the playbook and what it means to be a professional.
Of course, bad Fitzpatrick’s moments are going to lift their ugly heads, like they did against the Patriots. But the good Fitzpatrick is, of course, magical. The latter came to play against the Jaguars. The 37-year-old quarterback completed 18 of 20 passes, including his first 12 attempts, and threw a pair of touchdowns. Fitzpatrick has excelled in all areas, as NFL Next Gen Stats noted:
Next Generation Statistics @NextGenStats
Fitzpatrick was effective in difficult overtaking situations – Under pressure, over 10 meters in the air and out of numbers: Under pressure ➤ 5/6, 56 meters, TD (+ 24.4% CPOE) 10+ meters overhead ➤ 5 / 6.87 yards, TD (+ 29.8%) Outside numbers ➤ 7/8, 85 yards, TD (+ 28.3%) #MIAvsJAX | #FinsUp
While this level of efficiency is impressive on its own, Fitzpatrick’s passing stats don’t take into account his overall performance.
The signal caller’s veteran extended his runs by scrambling and scored another touchdown on a designed run. Most importantly, the level of stick-to-itiveness Fitzpatrick has shown by lowering his shoulder a few times and facing tackles, an example for everyone to follow.
Another touchdown from Ryan Fitzpatrick! #EndsUp 28-7. 📺: #MIAvsJAX on @NFLNetwork 📱: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app: https://t.co/12dXbqaBVJ https://t.co/5CfbajH6C7
The Dolphins had to be tougher than they showed in the first two weeks of play, and Fitzpatrick set a new level of intensity. Miami expects more in the second year of its reconstruction. The front office has already stripped everything to the studs last season. Now it’s about rebuilding things while trying to establish a winning culture.
“It’s a group that comes together. Today is a small step towards where we are going. I think we’re on the right track, ”Fitzpatrick said in an NFL Network post-game interview.
Finally, the dolphins will give up the reins to Tagovailoa. Make no mistake, he is the face of the franchise. But there is no hurry to switch from a competent option taking into account all the factors.
Once the Dolphins pass the Seattle Seahawks in Week 4, they have winnable fights against the injury-plagued San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos with the Los Angeles Chargers, who are currently starting the season. signal calling rookie Justin Herbert, named as their last October opponent.
Miami may re-evaluate after this point and continue to do so on a weekly basis. Eventually, the gray beard may give way to the left-handed whiz kid, but that time is not yet. Fitzpatrick is the right person to lead the Dolphins right now.