Ryan Fitzpatrick still wants to play; praises Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa and Brian Flores

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Safid Deen, South Florida Sun Sentinel
·4 min read
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After 16 seasons in the NFL and the past two with the Miami Dolphins, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick still wants to play football.

But playing behind Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa again may not be an ideal opportunity for Fitzpatrick, an unrestricted free agent and a fan favorite.

Fitzpatrick, while promoting a bowling event during Super Bowl weekend in Tampa on the Pat McAfee Show on Tuesday, did not give any indication he may or not return to Miami next season.

“This offseason, we already saw with [Jared] Goff and [Matthew] Stafford, obviously. Who knows what’s going to happen with Deshaun [Watson]. There’s rumors everywhere in the quarterback market. But there’s a lot of teams that are looking for a new quarterback or quarterbacks,” Fitzpatrick said.

“For me personally, I have to take every offseason now and just reassess. I know these last two years have really re-lit that fire under me. I still want to play. I enjoy being out there playing. Things are a little more complicated for me now with my oldest going into high school and six little ones trailing behind him. So, there’s a lot of thought that has to go into this thing, but I still love playing the game.”

Fitzpatrick touched on a number of topics during his interview, including his relationship with Tagovailoa, becoming a pseudo-relief quarterback this past season behind him, and Dolphins coach Brian Flores.

— On Tagovailoa, who the Dolphins drafted fifth overall and appointed the starter in the midst of a 4-2 start last season:

“Tua was the guy that was willing — I think that’s the first thing, guys have to be willing to ask questions and willing to learn and he did a good job with all that,” Fitzpatrick said.

“It’s hard to play quarterback in this league, especially as a rookie, and he came in and did a great job. … It was a great year of experience for him, and I look forward to big things in the future for him.”

— Fitzpatrick on losing the starting job after the Dolphins’ 4-2 start last season, and his time with the team in 2019:

“A lot of it was how much you put into it and invest. For me, even the season before and all the adversity and hardships we went through, it just hurt. One of the great things, being an older player, an established player is you get to say whatever you want and however you feel. You don’t have to do the veiled B.S. and the company lines,” Fitzpatrick said.

“That’s something that’s refreshing is just being able to speak my mind, and tell [it] how it is, and put my emotions out there, and that’s how I was feeling that day. I don’t know if that’s what they wanted me to say or what not, but that’s what I wanted to say because that’s how I felt, and I think it came across as genuine.”

— On being a relief quarterback, and his mindset when replacing Tagovailoa in two games this past season (one win in Las Vegas and one loss at Denver):

“It’s always loose, baby,” Fitzpatrick joked of his arm.

“The way that I practice is I never really warm up and that way I’m kinda always ready. … I literally am just standing there as a backup. It’s a cardinal sin when you’re the backup to start warming up on the sideline if your number hasn’t been called. You’re literally standing around for two and a half hours, and then coach is like, ‘Go in there and win the game for us.’

“And it’s a role I accepted this year. I’m happy to be out there on the field playing. And the ending of the Las Vegas game this year was crazy, but it was a lot of fun.”

— On Flores, who Fitzpatrick believes learned to be himself as a NFL coach:

“I think 1/8 2019 3/8 was a big learning experience for him, being a first-time head coach and trying to figure out who he was as a coach. It wasn’t easy. Everybody was talking about the tank job and we were sitting there at 0-7. But there was a distinct change for him about halfway through that year, and he really just decided to be himself, and just embrace his own personality and have us as players play like that, play like he coached,” Fitzpatrick said.

“He did a great job. This year, I think in a challenge year for everybody, with COVID and everything else that was going on, he showed great leadership qualities. To take a team that lost by 100-plus points in the first two games he ever coached as a head coach and to finish 10-6 this last year, he’s doing a great job and has the Dolphins on the right track.”