Ryan Fitzpatrick has become no stranger to the quarterback turnstile in recent years, but his demotion with the Miami Dolphins appears to have hurt more than any before it.
The 16-year veteran was officially benched by the team this week as head coach Brian Flores made the decision to name rookie Tua Tagovailoa as starter under center.
It comes after Fitzpatrick had helped Miami to their second straight win by shutting out the New York Jets 24-0, during the fourth quarter of which Tagovailoa was put in for his NFL debut. The Alabama product completed both of his pass attempts for nine yards.
“My heart just hurt all day,” admitted Fitzpatrick. “It was heartbreaking for me. Flo said what he said, and said what he said to you guys as well, and that’s the decision and direction the organisation is going in.
“Obviously, we’ve talked in the past about how, I’m the placeholder, and this eventually was going to happen. It was just a matter of when, not if. It still just broke my heart yesterday and it’s a tough thing for me to hear and to have to deal with. And I’m going to do my best with it.”
Speaking after the Jets game, Tagovailoa, not for the first time, paid tribute to the 37-year-old for his role as a mentor since his arrival in the NFL.
Fitzpatrick’s strong performances have enabled the Dolphins to ease Tagovailoa in, with Sunday’s cameo marking his first competitive action since suffering a season-ending injury with Alabama last November.
While it was a change that was inevitable at some point, the decision to make the No 5 overall pick starter came earlier than many anticipated. Miami’s bye week gives him an added week of preparation ahead of leading his team out against the Los Angeles Rams in Week Eight.
“I basically got fired yesterday, and today my day consisted of Zoom meetings with the guy that fired me and sitting in a room with the guy who replaced me for four hours,” Fitzpatrick added.
“I’ve been benched for all kinds of different ways, but this was kind of the first place other than Buffalo that I’ve been fully committed and invested. I felt like it was my team.”
In five games this season Fitzpatrick has gone 120 of 170 passing for 1,344 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions.
The 2005 seventh-round pick beat out Josh Rosen for the starting job in Miami last season before finishing 311 of 502 for 3,529 yards, 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
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