If everything goes to plan, it’s abundantly clear that the future and fate of the Miami Dolphins franchise is set to rest on the shoulders of Tua Tagovailoa, not Ryan Fitzpatrick. Whether he starts, sits, or misses the entire season is a different conversation as it’s all part of the rebuilding process.
What is important, is that fans realise and appreciate that so much of this rebuilding process, and to an extent, the draft picks have been facilitated thanks to the presence of Ryan Fitzpatrick.
When Fitzpatrick entered the building, it was clear that whoever started under center was in for a rough ride in 2019. New (and overly complex) playbook, an Offensive Line already looking weak even before the Tunsil trade, and no real indications of a threat in the run game. He walked in knowing that 2019 was going to be a challenge and it was going to hurt.
At 36, there was no real need for him put his body under so much stress and abuse. Financially secure, a family, why put yourself in that sort of position? There are a lot of players, particularly in this high revenue age that are clearly only in the sport for their own financial gratification.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is contagious
Football is a means to an end, refusing to play until they get ‘paid’ and not really giving the franchise or the fans a second thought. Thankfully, Fitzpatrick falls into a different group. Put simply, he just loves the game.
It was a bruising season for the veteran, being sacked 40 times in 15 games (13 starts) but if anything, he adapted his game during the course of the season. Using his experience and Ivy League footballing brain to extend plays (often running for his life) and turn the offensive unit into an entity that actually resembled a football team.
Going 5-4 in the last 9 games topping it off with not only a win over the Patriots but denying them the bye into the playoffs they desperately needed. In a losing season that slightly takes away the bitter edge off the taste in your mouth!
An aspect of Fitzpatrick’s season that by and large doesn’t get mentioned was his ability to elevate the players around him. Right now, everyone is gushing about Mike Gesicki and DeVante Parker and rightly so. But it was Fitzpatrick who trusted these players to go and get the ball and gave them both the opportunity to break out and showcase their talents.
By giving these players a platform, it helped the coaching staff to better assess the quality they had on the offensive side of the ball and create a free agency and draft plan to reflect that. You can expect more of the same this year as the upgraded line should lend itself to elevating the performance of others.
He brings unity and dynamism to a very young locker room and projects confidence on the field which is something really difficult to value.
In a season where there were a lot more downs than ups, Fitzmagic was one of the very few positives to shine through week in week out. He made the team more fun to watch and, although results weren’t what any fan would have wanted, once you accepted the rebuilding process you just wanted to root for the guy.
Moving into the new season he has already come out in support of the drafting of Tua. He’s openly said he’s happy to answer questions, coach, and help develop the young talent and he wants to see him do well.
It’s clear that his love for the game hasn’t waned and he still feels like he has a lot to offer the organisation both on the field and in a mentor capacity.
One thing is for sure, Ryan Fitzpatrick still wants to play football and he isn’t going to let go of the reigns lightly regardless of who’s waiting in the wings behind him.