A day after Ryan Fitzpatrick was benched in favor of Tua Tagovailoa, the Miami Dolphins’ veteran quarterback said the move “broke my heart.”
Fitzpatrick had the Dolphins off to a 3-3 start and had mostly played well through the season’s first six games. But with Miami’s bye in Week 7, head coach Brian Flores and his staff chose that it was time to transition to the No. 3 overall pick, Tagovailoa, at quarterback. Fitzpatrick was called into Flores’ office yesterday to learn the news two days after he’d led the Dolphins to a big enough blowout of the Jets that Tagovailoa could play in mop-up duty.
“Is this it?” Fitzpatrick wondered during a session with media Wednesday. “Was that my last game as a NFL starter going out there playing?”
Fitzpatrick has lasted much longer in the NFL than anyone would have expected when he was taken in the seventh round out of Harvard in 2005. He’s one of seven players taken that year who’s played at least one snap in the league in 2020.
A journeyman QB almost from the start, Fitzpatrick has gotten game action for the St. Louis Rams, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans, New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and now the Dolphins. He started nearly the entire 2019 season for Miami, and he remained on as the starter to keep the seat warm in 2020 for the time Tagovailoa was ready.
Fitzpatrick was one of the most enthusiastic players when Tagovailoa was substituted in during the fourth quarter Sunday for his NFL debut. Fitzpatrick raised his arms in the air to try and fire up the Miami crowd for the rookie’s first snaps. It’s not likely Fitzpatrick thought his benching had just come to pass, though.
Through the season’s first six games, Fitzpatrick has thrown for 1,535 yards and 10 touchdowns while rushing for another 135 yards and two scores. The Dolphins sit just a game back in the AFC East. Nonetheless, Fitzpatrick got the news of his benching Tuesday and was brutally honest in how tough it was to deal with coming to the building Wednesday.
“I basically got fired yesterday and my day today consisted of Zoom meetings with the guy who fired me and sitting in a room with the guy who replaced me for four hours,” Fitzpatrick told reporters.