Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been known to be one of the streakiest quarterbacks in the NFL.
When Fitzpatrick is on fire there’s almost no stopping him. But, when that fire does go out, it can turn into some very bad games from him and his team.
Remember When Fitzpatrick Had Three Consecutive 400-yard Games?
During his second season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018, Fitzpatrick came out and torched the New Orleans Saints, putting up 48 points and 417 passing yards. He then followed that up with two more near 400-yard passing games leading the Buccaneers to a 2-1 record to start that season.
Jameis Winston Disrupted the Streak and Fitz Was Never the Same
Fitzpatrick had done his job of holding down the fort until suspended quarterback Jameis Winston was able to return after week four. But, Winston would end up losing his starting job to Fitzpatrick as the season went on. Unfortunately for Fitzpatrick, his early-season streakiness didn’t join him when he got back under center. He finished with a 2-5 record as a starter on the season.
Does Fitzpatrick Have a Dolphins Timer?
Fitzpatrick has been on eight different teams since being drafted in 2005, leading to a question likely most Dolphins fans are thinking about.
When will Fitzpatrick’s time be up?
And, when will newly drafted quarterback Tua Tagovailoa be given the opportunity to take the reins of the offense?
Fitzpatrick struggled in the first part of his first season in Miami. In the first seven weeks of the 2019 season, the Dolphins went on a seven-game losing streak before beating the New York Jets and the Indianapolis Colts in back-to-back weeks.
Miami Must Be Smart in Starting Tagovailoa
With a bye week fairly late into the 2020 season, Miami should hope for a handful of good games to get out of Fitzpatrick before letting Tagovailoa man the helm.
But the name of the game here is health.
Nothing else matters if Tagovailoa can’t stay healthy and that’s what Miami’s only concern should be when they begin to ease Tagovailoa into the starting role and into his full transition into the NFL.
Will Tagovailoa’s Injury Or Comeback History Be the One to Repeat?
Throughout his three years at the University of Alabama Tagovailoa only played a full season once. During the 2017 season, Tagovailoa mostly sat behind QB Jalen Hurts until he was thrust into the national championship game when Hurts was pulled. Tagovailoa rallied the Crimson Tide to an unlikely victory.
It was from that point on where Tagovailoa was the starter for Alabama. Hurts barely played and eventually transferred to the University of Oklahoma after the end of the 2018 season when Alabama lost the national title to the University of Clemson.
All that success is from the prettier side of Tagovailoa’s story.
Since March of 2018 Tagovailoa has had a series of nagging injuries. A broken finger in March, a sprained knee in October and a quad injury in November held him out of one game. In December he suffered an ankle injury during the Southeastern Conference title game. He returned 28 days later to start in the College Football Playoff Semifinals.
Going into the 2019 season, Tagovailoa suffered another high ankle sprain on his left leg and was forced to have his second ankle procedure in just as many seasons. Although he would only end up missing one game for the Crimson Tide and returned after their bye week only two weeks later.
Now, the biggest injury of them all, during his final season at Alabama, Tagovailoa suffered a dislocated right hip. Tagovailoa underwent surgery just two days later and thus ended his three-year career with the Crimson Tide.
Since then, Tagovailoa has posted various clips and hosted a virtual professional day during his rehabilitation showing his return to being healthy and how mobile he can still be.
Miami could find itself in the lower half of the league throughout the season and should feel no pressure in giving Tagovailoa plenty of time to feel comfortable if fully healthy in the back-half of the season if that’s the case.
However, the Dolphins do need to be patient even if that opportunity does present itself. Playing their hand too early could lead to increased injuries for Tagovailoa and could derail his entire career. That would also hinder Miami’s chances of having a franchise quarterback for years to come.
Regardless of how you look at it, the Dolphins have a great situation at the quarterback position. Keeping Fitzpatrick on a short leash could lead to better games from him. They should keep Tagovailoa on the bench as long as possible before letting him play in a few games to finish the season. Giving Tagovailoa the opportunity to continue learning without endangering his health could just easily accumulate to a prolific NFL career.