Ryan Fitzpatrick is entering his 15th NFL season with his eighth NFL team. He is, by definition, a journeyman. Over that time he has a 50-75-1 career record, the highlight coming in 2015 with the Jets when Fitzpatrick went 10-6 as a starter. In 2019, his role will be a familiar one: a veteran presence in the locker room who serves as an insurance policy against the young franchise quarterback.
In this case, that’s Josh Rosen, who was acquired during the draft from Arizona after the Cardinals used the first-overall pick on Kyler Murray. And while Fitzpatrick, 36, is 14 years older than Rosen, the job remains wide open, according to first-year coach Brian Flores.
“… [L]ike every other position, there’ll be competition there,” Flores told reporters shortly after the draft. “In that position, we’re looking for leadership, we’re looking for, obviously, accuracy, we’re looking for someone, who, for the most part, can lead the team. And put together successful drives and put us in good position in the run game and the pass game, from a protection standpoint. So there’s a lot that goes into it, it’s a leadership position and there’s going to be some competition at that position for sure.”
Fitzpatrick, who said recently that “there’s been a lot of shade and disrespect thrown my way for a lot of years,” told WQAM’s Joe Rose and Zach Krantz that Flores has gotten off to a good start with his players.
“Competition definitely brings out the best in you,” he said, via the Miami Herald. “Coach Flo has a presence in our meeting room at times, talking about a lot of different situations. He has a really good personality. He’s been very consistent with his message so far and that’s something that really carries weight in the locker room and gets guys to play for you.”
Fitzpatrick also couldn’t speak highly enough of Dan Marino, the Dolphins Hall of Famer and now-special advisor who regularly attends quarterback meetings.
“What a great guy,” Fitzpatrick said. “The biggest thing that pops out to me is his humility. Being able to bounce questions off him [has been great]. He’s been a neat presence to have around, not only as a Hall of Fame quarterback but just as a guy, knowing some of the things we go through whether it’s off the field with family or on the field. He has great perspective on everything. It’s been great getting to know him.”
Meanwhile, back in May, it was Marino who welcomed the trade that brought Rosen to Miami.
“I look at it as, ‘Hey, we’re trying to be successful right now,'” Marino said at the time. “Win games and compete each and every day and each and every week. … I spent time there, so obviously I’m proud of the Dolphins. I want to see us do well. I think we’re in a position where we can get to that point. We’re building to have a successful team.”
Miami still faces long odds — they’re 200-to-1 to win the Super Bowl — but in Rosen they added the best quarterback in the 2019 draft class and in Christian Wilkins, the 13th overall pick, Miami gets one of the best defensive players in this class. A lot of roster issues remain but it’s clear the Dolphins aren’t giving up on the 2019 season just yet — and that may mean Fitzpatrick playing sizable chunks. The biggest question facing this team? If the season goes south and they find themselves with a high draft pick, will they stick with Rosen (and Fitzpatrick, who is on a two-year deal) or try to draft their next franchise quarterback, whether that’s Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert or a player not yet on anyone’s radar?