Miami Benches Fitzpatrick for Tua

Big news out of Miami, where Adam Schefter reports that Miami will be benching Ryan Fitzpatrick in favor of rookie Tua Tagovailoa after their Week 7 bye. I never would have expected to say this before the season, but... this is a mistake. Miami currently has the best DVOA in the AFC East and we're giving them a 34.5% chance of making the playoffs in our latest simulation. The Dolphins are absolutely still in it, Fitzpatrick has been playing well, and if they want to make the playoffs this is a strange time to pull him for the rookie.

Would they now consider trading him to another team? Would Chicago or Dallas consider pulling the trigger on that deal?

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54 comments, Last at 21 Oct 2020, 4:49pm

4 Not sure I agree. You'd get…

Not sure I agree. You'd get what, a 5th rounder? 6th? There's no other QB on the depth chart, and only Jake Ruddock on the practice squad. As insurance and "veteran mentor" he's worth more to Miami than a low pick, I think but your (amd the Dolphins FO) MMV

24 It could still be a while…

It could still be a while until that happens. Fitzpatrick is 37, but QBs are playing into their 40s now. Perhaps more importantly, Fitzpatrick's best years in the NFL have come in the past three years.

36 There's a point where getting beat up isn't fun anymore

He's a Harvard Graduate with the right personality to coach in the league. He's going to be 38 in Nov. The future isn't that bright for 38 year old career back ups as players. However, he's been a player/coach for first Rosen and then Tua here in Miami. I can see him doing that again another year and transitioning into a coaching role. In theory he could move on to another hapless team and get beaten up more, but there's not much point to that. Him and Flores seem to click and I wouldn't be surprised if he's around on the coaching staff soon. He's well liked here in Miami.   

2 Timing is

Timing is, unusual.  This has to be a FO call; although coach and doctors would have had to agree that Tua was ready.  Short term (this season), for wins/record, they would be better off with Fitz.  But not going to the Super Bowl.  But long term, Tua is obviously the guy, and if the kid is going to have to learn, may as well do it now.  I worry about him behind that line though.  

3 Wow

I'm a little suprised by the timing, (not least because Miai's next game is Aaron Donald time), but with Miami's bye week being moved forward from Week 11 it makes a certain amount of sense.

It probably means Miami aren't a playoff contender this year, but no biggie. They'd have only been bait for a serious team come wild-weekend in any event, and if Tua is a rookie phenom, then they're a more dangerous playoff opponent anyway.

This tells me that Brian Flores is very secure in his job, that Miami think Tua's healthy, and that there's no short-term thinking. It's analogous to the Giants in 2004(?) when they benched Kurt Warner for Eli Manning at a time when the had a winning record. Didn't help that year, but turned out ok in the long-term.

Abosolute worst case, Tua sucks, Miami lose a boatload of games, and with two #1s & two #2's they enter the QB lottery again. Realistically they see what Tua has, and have two top-15 picks in the first two rounds next year. Fitz has been great as a placeholder, but I like the move

25 The funny thing about the…

In reply to by James-London

The funny thing about the Giants benching Kurt Warner is there's an argument that in retrospect it was the wrong move. Kurt Warner went to Arizona and played at a much higher level than was typical for Eli in is career. Obviously the Giants won two Super Bowls but that was a very lucky outcome and didn't occur because Eli was a great QB.

5 This is more Miami promoting…

This is more Miami promoting their QB of the Future (TM) rather than benching Fitz. Fitz is on pace for an entirely cromulent 500 DYAR passing 100 DYAR rushing year.

That's somewhere between 2019 Brady and Ryan, for reference.

Warner in 2004 was better than Eli, but still kind of bad.

7 Yea, my read is that the…

Yea, my read is that the Dolphins are realistic about the teams' chances of going deep in the playoffs this year, so it seems they're sticking with their long term plan (some other franchises can learn something from that).

6 I kind of agree with the…

I kind of agree with the move.  Fitzpatrick's history tells us he is more likely than not to turn into a pumpkin later in the season, so maybe the Bill Walsh philosophy of moving on from guy too early instead of too late is the correct decision.  As James outlines in the comment above me, they need to know what they have in Tua (presumably they've seen enough of him in practice to think he's most likely ready).  And DVOA says Miami's is pretty good team, so he will at least get some help from his teammates, unlike someone like Darnold or Burrow (although Burrow is trying his darndest to elevate above his surroundings.


12 The most curious thing is…

The most curious thing is making the change after a 24-0 win. Typically a QB change comes after a poor performance, not only by the incumbent, but by the whole team, when the pressure to do so is very high. Without trying to read too much into it, to me that means the change is being made out of conviction, not out of external pressure. Maybe, like others have suggested, it _is_ meant as an "offensive" move, trying to make a playoff push before while there's a chance.

23 yes

The rumor has always been they'd give Tua playing time after the bye. The NFL covid situation just accelerated that plan. I'm not sure about the move. But Fitz hasn't exactly been lights out this year. This is a toss up where Tua is likely to be a step sideways at best.

8 The fact that the Dolphins…

The fact that the Dolphins are a serious playoff contender doesn't mean they are in any sense a Super Bowl contender. Riding Fitzmagic to a Wild Card weekend loss doesn't do a whole lot for the franchise. 

18 2016 was a shellacking by…

2016 was a shellacking by the Steelers, not the Ravens.  That was when they went 10-6 despite being outscored, and Matt Moore had to start the wildcard game because of an injury to Tannenhill (not sure the version of Tannenhill in Adam Gases' clutches would have made a difference.

26 In a single-elimination…

In a single-elimination tournament, getting in is kind of like buying a lottery ticket. The Dolphins wouldn't be a top choice for making a playoff run, but if you qualify you never know what's possible.

9 Why would Dallas deal for a…

Why would Dallas deal for a QB—their defense is simply not viable, their O line is in tatters, and Zeke can't hold onto the ball. Fitzmagic won't help any of that.

17 Can you imagine if…

Can you imagine if Fitzpatrick completes his collection of AFC East teams?

A year ago, you could not have talked me into Newton and Fitzpatrick being on the same Belichick team.

20 Fitzpatrick would be a…

Fitzpatrick would be a perfect QB for a Belichick team.  It would be a 9-7 Belichick team...but still.

In all seriousness, the Patriots would have been better served last year with Fitzpatrick under center rather than Brady, certainly after Halloween.

52 I think he'd be an awful…

I think he'd be an awful choice for the Patriots; Belichick is obviously a tiny bit of a control freak, and I would say he values consistent play very, very highly.  Fitzpatrick is a roll of the dice, and, depending on the game, you're getting four picks or four TDs, or, for some really fun games, both.  Fitzpatrick's insane inconsistency and questionable decision-making would make Belichick pretty much set him on fire before halftime in his first game of the season.

38 A part of me is expecting…

A part of me is expecting this, but not this year. Cam's only on a one-year deal and thanks to COVID the forecast on college QBs this year is cloudy. Sign Fitzpatrick next year as a stopgap, and then draft your guy in 2022.

Fitzpatrick then signs with the Vikings in 2022 after they release Kirk Cousins and free up $35MM in cap space. You saw it here first.

21 The Bears already gave up a…

The Bears already gave up a 4th round pick for a bad QB, so I don't think they'd have any interest in Fitzpatrick even though he'd be an upgrade to Foles. Unless Miami has the slightest bit of interest in Trubisky as a backup?

29 Cynical take, but really,…

Cynical take, but really, there are three possible outcomes if you don't bench Fitzpatrick:


* You miss the playoffs

* You make the playoffs but get creamed

* You make a deep run, maybe even a SB run


As others have pointed out, you're not doing yourself any long term favors playing Fitzpatrick to get either of the first two outcomes.  And if you get the third... well, then your front office looks bad because they spent high draft capital on a QB that they "didn't need", and your coach has to deal with a "QB controversy".  It's easier to put Tua in now and if you end up with outcome 1 or 2, you can say it was because you were breaking in your rookie, and if you get 3, you look like a genius.

34 I doubt that any front…

I doubt that any front office ends up "looking bad" after a Super Bowl run, but let's unpack this and see what would need to happen for the Dolphins to make that Super Bowl run. Aaron has them with a 34% chance of making the playoffs. Let's say they're up against the Steelers on Wild Card Weekend, and give them a 40% chance of beating them. Then they need to get through the Ravens, followed by the Chiefs, and let's give them a 33% chance of winning each of those games and landing in the Super Bowl. 

What are the odds of all that happening? Less than 2%. I wouldn't call that enough to worry about. 


30 Weird timing at first

Considering Fitz isnt play that bad. But as we know he's always been like this. There's an entire meme of the Fitzmagic/Fitztragic cycle. Wouldnt surprise me if you went erratic the otherway shortly. Either way, they are/weren't making the SB (let alone winning it) anyway so picks in the middle rounds probably isnt so bad. Keep building. 

Also it's coming during a bye. Yes it's Donald and Ramsey but two weeks to prepare for them, at home, or 1 week vs...(looks at the rest of their schedule)...@NYJ? Idk, seems about even to me so I'm fine with this decision. Herbert and Burrow are proving (again?) you dont really have to sit forever before starting kinda well. 

And besides Fitz knew this was coming. And of all the dudes he's probably the happiest for a variety of reasons. Now he doesn't have to watch himself implode and can leave off on a good note for another future contract. 

In regards to trading him, idk if it's worth it for any team really. Miami doesnt have anyone else and he does provide just decent vet insurance. And for other teams they gotta know he's not gonna keep this up at age 37 so why even bother for the final 11 games. You probably already know your fate anyway. If someone offers 3rd or better, sure take it. But no one will or should. Just keep him for a few more months and hope he gets ya a comp pick somehow next year. 

31 I suspect Fitzpatrick is a…

I suspect Fitzpatrick is a positive influence in the locker room.  It'd be nice to get a draft pick for him, but it seems unlikely that someone will offer enough to offset the value of his presence on a still young team that's going to get hammered a few times more this season.  Their defense still isn't very good, their OL is shaky, and if Parker ever gets hurt that's 100% of their quality receiver corp going to the blue tent.  They can use a vet like Fitzpatrick telling Tua and the others "don't sweat it, we'll get 'em next game", with the credibility that they believe it.

35 Is it weird that I feel bad…

Is it weird that I feel bad for Fitzpatrick? I mean, it's not like this was a surprise, but I find him to be a surprisingly likeable QB and easy to root for. He was on the sideline encouraging the crowd to cheer more when Tua went in.

42 That's the image that keeps…

That's the image that keeps popping into my head. Scene 1: Fitzpatrick cheering on as Tua goes in. Scene 2: "You're benched". Scene 3: Fitz in a bar downing drinks: "Yeah, I knew it was coming. I'm fine, stop asking. I knew it was coming." Camera shows the bar stool next to him. It's empty.

41 The obvious reason is…

The obvious reason is because Miami thought Fitzpatrick was getting too close to a playoff game. The worst case scenario is they still make the playoffs and Fitzpatrick goes from "Never on a team that made the playoffs" to merely "Never played in a playoff game". A tragic result, but these are unsettling times we're living in.

44 I think it's Fitz, with 145…

Norm Snead, with 159. He's ahead of Fitz's 145, who is just ahead of Archie Manning. Snead only broke .500 once. Manning never did.

Jurgensen still has a tiny lead in the "never to have started a playoff game" category, at 147-145, although he trails Snead, too.

Jimmy Conzelman started 67 games and coached another 143, for a total of 210 games started before making his first playoff appearance. However, he won a title mid-stream, as there was no playoff in 1928.

45 From what I can tell, it's…

From what I can tell, it's Norm Snead with 159 starts (178 total), but Fitzpatrick is a close second (145 and 162). Archie Manning (139 and 151) is reasonably close as well.

Since I was already there, I noticed that if you wanted to combine everyone in the family for some reason (list of most pointless statistics, perhaps), then the leader is the Carr brothers - Derek (99 and 99) and David (79 and 94) - for a total of 178 starts in 193 games without a playoff appearance.

46 Since the merger, it looks…

Since the merger, it looks like Fitzpatrick has the mark with 145 starts and no playoff appearances.  (This may have been easier to do before expanded playoffs after the merger, though getting to 145 starts was probably tougher.)

Archie Manning is second at 139.

Jeff Blake had 100 starts, but never attempted a pass in the playoffs.  Though he was on the 2000 Saints, 04 Eagles and 05 Bears, who made the playoffs.

Derek Carr is at 99 starts, with no playoff passes.  Though the Raiders made the playoffs in 2016.

Sam Bradford 83 starts, no playoff teams.


54 Fran Tarkenton made 174…

Fran Tarkenton made 174 regular season starts (181 total games) before he made a playoff appearance. If you don't count the 14 starts he made for the 1973 Vikings, the first team he went to the postseason with, he was still ahead of Norm Snead. 

And then he ended up going to three Super Bowls. There's still hope, boys!