Ryan Fitzpatrick

Dolphins GM Chris Grier: Tua Tagovailoa Is Starting QB

One of this offseason’s most intriguing storylines may have just been nipped in the bud. Speaking at his end of season media availability, Dolphins GM Chris Grier declared Tua Tagovailoa the starting quarterback moving forward, via Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald.

“Tua we’re very happy with,” Grier said. “He’s our starting quarterback.” While Grier didn’t really hedge much, it’s worth pointing out that he did decline to answer whether the team would consider drafting a quarterback with the third overall pick, saying he wasn’t going to get into draft strategy. It’s difficult to parse this kind of coach and front office-speak, but Grier’s declaration did sound more definitive than when the Cardinals said Josh Rosen was “the guy” before promptly drafting Kyler Murray.

It sounds like the plan right now is to surround Tagovailoa with better weapons, and that will start with upgrading the receiving corp. “We’re very happy with that and looking forward to watching him progress here over the next offseason and going into next year,” Grier continued. Head coach Brian Flores also spoke to the media and said he expected his entire coaching staff back next year, including polarizing offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.

There had been an erroneous report Monday that Gailey was being let go. Flores also didn’t say whether he wanted Ryan Fitzpatrick back with the team in 2021, stating that he needed to evaluate the whole roster first. If the team really is intent on running it back with Tagovailoa, keeping Fitzpatrick would likely prove to be too much of a distraction.

Tagovailoa, of course, found himself benched for Fitzpatrick a couple of times, including in the team’s crucial Week 16 game against the Raiders when Fitzpatrick led a miracle comeback. Had Fitzpatrick not caught COVID-19, he almost certainly would’ve been inserted into their Week 17 loss to the Bills, which knocked them out of the playoffs, where Tagovailoa melted down.
Tagovailoa didn’t play all that poorly by rookie quarterback standards, but he didn’t show nearly as many flashes as Joe Burrow or Justin Herbert, and he often held onto the ball too long and took unnecessary sacks. His struggles with inefficiency led some to question whether or not the Dolphins, with their massive haul of draft picks, would consider starting from scratch with a new passer in this deep quarterback draft.
As of right now it doesn’t seem like they have any plans to do so, although it wouldn’t be too shocking if it turned out Grier and Flores were just playing media games. Tagovailoa finished his rookie season averaging 6.3 yards per attempt with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions in nine starts.

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Dolphins’ Ryan Fitzpatrick Tests Positive For COVID-19

The Dolphins will be without Ryan Fitzpatrick for Sunday’s game against the Bills. The backup quarterback has tested positive for COVID-19, as Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweet.

Fitzpatrick has been the steady hand and occasional fill-in behind rookie Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins won’t have that safety net for their pivotal Week 17 game. Instead, they’ve signed Jake Rudock to serve as their temporary QB2.

It hurts. He’s a leader on our team. He brings energy,” Dolphins safety Eric Rowe said (via ESPN.com’s Cameron Wolfe). “I’m sure it’s worse for him because he loves the game and no one wants to catch COVID. With that, you have to push forward. COVID is a real-deal thing whether you don’t have symptoms or you do. Just praying he doesn’t have symptoms or he didn’t pass it to his kids.”

FitzMagic’s latest outing boosted the Dolphins to a 26-25 win over the Raiders. All in all, the 38-year-old is 4-3 as a starter in 2020. He’ll be watching from a distance as the Dolphins look to clinch their spot with a win over Buffalo.

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Flores: Tua Will Remain Dolphins’ Starter

The Dolphins are now one win away from their first trip to the postseason since 2016, and they have Ryan Fitzpatrick (and a healthy dose of Raiders ineptitude) to thank for it. After Miami’s offense with QB Tua Tagovailoa under center stagnated throughout much of last night’s game against Las Vegas, head coach Brian Flores replaced the first-round rookie with the hirsute 38-year-old, and that sprinkling of FitzMagic was enough to pull out a last-second win.

Fitzpatrick completed nine of 13 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown in his limited action, and while much of that yardage came on a no-look prayer of a pass and a healthy run-after-catch from RB Myles Gaskin, the offense undeniably came to life with Fitzpatrick at the helm. That led most to assume that the veteran would start the Dolphins’ Week 17 game with the Bills next week.

But Flores said in his post-game presser that Tagovailoa remains the team’s starter and will get the call against Buffalo, as Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com was among those to report. “Tua is a young player,” Flores said. “He’s developing. He’s improving on a daily basis. He’s learning from these experiences. He’ll be better next week.”

Last night marked the second time in five games that Tagovailoa was pulled for Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter, and while Fitzpatrick wasn’t quite able to complete the comeback in Miami’s Week 11 loss to Denver, he got the job done against the Raiders. As a result, the Dolphins will clinch a playoff berth if they beat the Bills next week.

Tagovailoa’s surface-level stats look decent enough — he has completed 65.1% of his passes for 10 TDs against just two interceptions — but most of his throws are dinks and dunks, and his 6.3 yards-per-attempt average is among the worst in the league. He will need to take more downfield shots to pull out a victory over the Bills, but if he should struggle, Flores has shown he will not be afraid to send in Fitzpatrick.

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AFC Notes: Dolphins, Tagovailoa, Colts, Castonzo, Broncos, Calabrese

Ryan Fitzpatrick helped the Dolphins improve to 7-4 with a win over the Jets on Sunday, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll get his starting gig back anytime soon. Speaking after the game, head coach Brian Flores confirmed rookie Tua Tagovailoa would remain the team’s starter when healthy. “Yeah, if he’s healthy, he’s the guy. I don’t know how many different ways we have to continue to say that. You keep asking, I’ll keep answering the same way,” Flores said, via Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link).

Clearly he didn’t leave much wiggle room. It’s not like Fitzpatrick lit the world on fire against New York, but he did have two touchdowns and no turnovers. The offense has undeniably moved better with Fitzpatrick under center than Tagovailoa, but obviously Tua is the future. Flores felt comfortable benching Tagovailoa during their Week 11 loss to the Broncos, but clearly doesn’t want to make a full-on change. That being said with Tagovailoa potentially looking at a multi-week absence due to his thumb injury, Fitzmagic might not be ending too soon. If Fitzpatrick plays the Dolphins into the playoffs, it’ll be very interesting to see whether Flores can avoid changing his tune.

Here’s more from around the AFC as we wrap up Week 12:

  • Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo went down with a knee injury, and Philip Rivers started coming under immediate pressure the moment backup Le’Raven Clark entered the game. While Castonzo was quickly ruled out with the knee injury, fortunately it looks like he avoided major injury, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Rapsheet writes that it sounds like an MCL sprain for the long-time Colt. Head coach Frank Reich said after the game a worst-case scenario had been avoided. It sounds like Castonzo won’t be out too long, but any missed time would be a brutal blow for this offense. Indy will need him as they make their playoff push.
  • The Broncos were in an unprecedented situation Sunday as all of their quarterbacks were ruled out due to COVID-19 issues. That led to practice squad receiver Kendall Hinton, who played some quarterback in college, getting the start under center. But before Denver turned to Hinton they initially wanted to make offensive quality control coach Rob Calabrese their starting quarterback against the Saints, sources told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Calabrese has been with the team the past two years and Denver felt he knew the system better than anyone else. Schefter notes the league rejected the request out of principle against coaches being activated to keep teams from stashing potential players on the coaching staff. Calabrese played some quarterback at UCF, and ended his college career in 2012. Calabrese apparently ran the offense during practice on Sunday. It’s too bad Roger Goodell didn’t allow it, as that would’ve been even more bonkers and fun than the Hinton situation.

Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa To Miss Time

Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been ruled out for today’s game against the Jets. Although scans on his thumb did not reveal a fracture, he has a good deal of swelling and weakness that could sideline him for multiple weeks (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo). 

Ryan Fitzpatrick will take over for the rookie, who saw his honeymoon end last week against the Broncos. Tagovailoa struggled mightily and, according to head coach Brian Flores, was benched for performance rather than an injury. Still, the No. 5 overall pick was set to start against the Jets today, up until the injury took him out of the equation.

Tagovailoa completed 11 of his 20 passes for just 83 yards last week before Fitzmagic took over. The Dolphins went on to lose, snapping their five-game winning streak. Before the rough outing against Denver, Tagovailoa had thrown for five touchdowns and no interceptions across three victorious starts.

The Dolphins are 6-4 heading into today’s game against the 0-10 Jets. If Tagovailoa needs extra time to heal up, Fitzmagic will be slated to start against the Bengals and Chiefs as the Dolphins make their playoff push.

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Dolphins’ Ryan Fitzpatrick Hasn’t Asked For Trade

Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Dolphins to back-to-back wins and a .500 record, but it wasn’t enough to stave off the inevitable rise of Tua Tagovailoa. Now relegated to backup status, the veteran says he has not requested a trade (Twitter link via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald). At the same time, Fitzpatrick has yet to consider whether he’d be comfortable holding the clipboard beyond 2020.

[RELATED: Dolphins Turn To Tua Tagovailoa]

I like playing more than I like sitting watching,” said Fitzpatrick, confessing and stating the obvious.

FitzMagic, 28 in November, was a bright spot for the Dolphins in an otherwise trying year. He racked up 3,529 passing yards with 20 touchdowns against 13 interceptions and helped cap off the year in style with wins over the Bengals and Patriots.

The veteran is under contract for 2020 with an $8MM salary. Currently positioned as a pricey backup, Fitzpatrick isn’t quite sure of what the future holds beyond this year. For now, he’ll focus on helping the former Alabama standout transition to the pro game.

Tagovailoa’s debut as the Dolphins’ starter will come after their bye week on Nov. 1 against the Rams.

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Dolphins To Start Tua Tagovailoa

It’s Tua time. The Dolphins will start rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa ahead of Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 8 against the Rams, per a club announcement. 

The Dolphins brought Tagovailoa in against the Jets on Sunday, giving him some reps heading into their bye week. At 3-3, this wasn’t necessarily a slam-dunk decision by the team. Fitzpatrick has them in playoff contention, but they’re also looking ahead to the future, which figures to be led by the Alabama star.

The Dolphins tapped Tagovailoa with the No. 5 overall pick, despite concerns over his surgically-repaired hip and other injuries. Even though his 2019 season was wiped out, many say that he has the greatest upside of any QB from the 2020 class. Tagovailoa easily could have been the No. 1 overall pick, if not for his career-threatening injury and Joe Burrow’s absolutely absurd final season at LSU. As a fully healthy sophomore in 2018, Tagovailoa dazzled as he threw for almost 4,000 yards and 43 touchdowns with only six interceptions. In that year, he was the runner-up for the Heisman trophy behind Kyler Murray, the eventual No. 1 overall pick.

Now, he’s totally healthy, and he’ll be in total command of the Dolphins’ offense moving forward.

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AFC East Notes: Newton, Dolphins, Jets

Cam Newton was reported Monday to be asymptomatic after his positive COVID-19 test, and with nothing changing on that front Tuesday, the Patriots quarterback could return to practice as soon as Thursday. While no other players on New England’s active roster tested positive, the team placed practice squad defensive tackle Bill Murray on its reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday. Murray did not make the trip to Kansas City, per NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran (on Twitter), but Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio notes the young defender did stay at the hotel near Gillette Stadium with teammates previously.

Here is the latest from the AFC East, moving first to the Dolphins’ quarterback situation:

  • Brian Flores did not commit to Ryan Fitzpatrick receiving a fifth start when asked earlier this week, but the Dolphins‘ second-year head coach did so Tuesday. Fitzpatrick will start against the 49ers. Flores said Tua Tagovailoa‘s 2019 hip injury remains a factor in the Dolphins’ decision-making. The former Alabama prodigy’s past injury issues have helped keep Fitzpatrick in the lineup. Fitz has thrown four touchdown passes, five interceptions and interestingly holds the league’s No. 9 QBR figure (75.3). But with questions about Fitzpatrick’s job status taking place before Week 5, Tagovailoa will surely make his debut this season.
  • Before ultimately deciding on the Giants, Logan Ryan was squarely on the Jets‘ radar. The most recent report indicated Jets GM Joe Douglas nixed a Ryan agreement because it leaked to the media, with contract demands almost certainly playing a role as well, but Ryan said during a radio interview with WFAN the Jets did not make an offer (Twitter link). Ryan estimated he talked to nearly every team this offseason, one in which he was a free agent for more than five months. Barring a Giants extension, the veteran defensive back is slated to be a free agent again in 2021.
  • The Jets did not plan on using injured left tackle Mekhi Becton last week, but replacement Chuma Edoga going down in the first quarter prompted them to reinsert their ailing starter into the lineup. Adam Gase said the nature of Becton’s injury would have prevented him from making it worse, calling it a pain-tolerance issue. The Louisville alum is said to be dealing with a capsule issue in his shoulder, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes. This pertains to the ligament surrounding the shoulder joint. Becton played just 17 snaps in Week 4. The first-round pick has played well when healthy but has seen this injury stall his development.
  • Gang Green may be without its left tackle and starting quarterback in Week 5. The Jets are not expected to play Sam Darnold against the Cardinals, with the team on track to proceed with caution after the quarterback was slammed to turf during the Jets’ loss to the Broncos.

AFC Notes: Dolphins, Tagovailoa, Fitzpatrick, Raiders, Steelers, Jones

The Dolphins dropped to 1-3 on Sunday, causing the calls for Tua Tagovailoa to grow louder. Head coach Brian Flores has been steadfast in his resistance to starting the rookie, but for the first time he equivocated when talking to the media on Monday. When asked who his quarterback will be for Week 5 against the 49ers, Flores didn’t immediately say Ryan Fitzpatrick as he usually does, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald tweeted. He said the coaching staff will start discussing the decision this evening.

While Flores did follow up by saying he presumes Fitz will be the starter, this is still a notable change in tone. Flores seemed to catch himself during the presser and said his hesitation wasn’t a sign of anything to come imminently, but it now seems like the writing is on the wall for the Dolphins. It appears Flores is laying the groundwork for an eventual switch to Tagovailoa, and while Fitzpatrick still is the favorite to start this week it looks like his days are numbered. Flores also said he isn’t going to let the success of Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert effect his decision, but it certainly won’t help ease the pressure on him to make the move. He also said the injury Tua is coming off of has played a role in his caution, even though the fifth overall pick has “checked all the boxes” medically.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • The league continues to dish out punishments for COVID-19 protocol violations, with the Raiders getting slapped with another fine. Las Vegas was fined $50K for letting a non-credentialed employee into the locker room following their Week 2 win over the Saints, sources told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). The Raiders have already been hit, with the team being fined $250K and head coach Jon Gruden being fined $100K for not properly wearing his mask during that same game. We heard a couple weeks ago that a team was under investigation for “unauthorized locker room access,” and it appears this latest fine is the conclusion of that investigation. The league has a call with all teams later this afternoon to give them a stern talking to about protocols in the wake of a litany of positive tests, and it sounds like the Raiders are firmly in the league’s crosshairs.
  • Steelers practice squad offensive lineman Jarron Jones is facing very serious legal issues. Jones was arrested over the weekend and charged with “aggravated assault, strangulation and simple assault,” per Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com. A woman Jones was dating accused him of choking her, hitting her in the face, and throwing her outside during an altercation. For his part, Jones claims the woman began breaking things in his apartment and he responded by “grabbing her by the back and legs and placed her outside.” Pittsburgh was on an unscheduled bye week after their game against the Titans was postponed due to Tennessee’s COVID issues. “We are aware of the situation regarding Jarron Jones,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement. “We are gathering all of the details of these disturbing allegations, but we will not comment any further at this time.” We’ll let you know when we hear more, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Jones is cut shortly and he’s certainly facing league discipline if the allegations turn out to have merit.

Bucs Sign Josh Rosen To Practice Squad

Josh Rosen has found a new home. The highly drafted quarterback will be signing with the Buccaneers’ practice squad, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link).

Rosen will now get to learn from Tom Brady in the quarterbacks room. The UCLA product has had a tough time in the pros, and was just recently cut by the Dolphins after Miami failed to find a trade partner. Heavily hyped coming out of college, Rosen was drafted 10th overall by the Cardinals in 2018. His rookie season was a disaster, as Arizona went 3-13 and head coach Steve Wilks was fired after just one year.

The Cards elected to start fresh the following offseason, drafting Kyler Murray with the first pick and making Rosen expendable. He was quickly dealt to the Dolphins in exchange for a second-round pick. He started three games in Miami but didn’t play well and failed to beat out Ryan Fitzpatrick for playing time.

Obviously Rosen’s circumstances have been far from ideal, and he’s had to deal with things that are extremely rare for such a highly drafted quarterback. Now he’ll be not just learning from Brady, but reuniting with Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich as well. Leftwich was quarterbacks coach and interim offensive coordinator during Rosen’s season in Arizona, when he started 13 games.

This seems like an ideal situation for Rosen to land, and a chance to jumpstart his career. For the Bucs it’s a nice low-risk signing, as they don’t currently have anyone waiting in the wings for whenever the 43-year-old Brady decides to hang up his cleats. Through 16 career NFL starts Rosen has averaged 5.7 yards per attempt with 12 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.

Here is the Buccaneers full practice squad:

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