NFL

Dolphins' Fitzpatrick heartbroken as Miami elevate Tagovailoa to starting QB

By Sports Desk October 21, 2020

Ryan Fitzpatrick labelled the Miami Dolphins' decision to demote him and promote Tua Tagovailoa as their starting quarterback "heartbreaking", with the veteran questioning whether he has started his last game in the NFL.

The Dolphins have turned to Tagovailoa – the fifth overall pick in the 2020 draft – to start against the Los Angeles Rams following Miami's Week 7 bye on November 1.

Tagovailoa will lead the way, despite Fitzpatrick overseeing blow-out victories against the winless New York Jets (24-0) and San Francisco 49ers (43-17) and a 3-3 record in Miami.

Though his errors did not prove critical against a dismal Jets team, Fitzpatrick was underwhelming in Week 6 as he threw for 191 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Fitzpatrick's seven interceptions are the third-most in the NFL behind Minnesota Vikings signal-caller Kirk Cousins (10) and Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz (nine). Fitzpatrick is 18th of 33 qualifying quarterbacks in adjusted net yards per attempt with 6.62.

The 37-year-old Fitzpatrick was always seen as the placeholder for Tagovailoa but the much-travelled quarterback – who has spent time with the Rams, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans, Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers – told reporters on Wednesday: "I was shocked by it. It definitely caught me off guard. It was a hard thing for me to hear yesterday, just kind of digesting the news. My heart just hurt all day. It was heartbreaking for me.

"[Head coach Brian Flores] Flo kind of said what he said and said what he said to you guys as well, and that's the decision and the direction that the organisation is going in.

"Obviously we've talked in the past, me and you guys, about how I'm the placeholder and this eventually was going to happen.

"It was just a matter of kind of when, not if. It still just ... it broke my heart yesterday. It's a tough thing for me to hear and to now have to deal with, but I'm going to do my best with it."

Fitzpatrick added: "There was a lot of stuff going through my mind yesterday, just from a personal standpoint, not necessarily with the team. Is this it? Like, was that my last game as an NFL player in terms of being the starter and going out there and playing?

"I've been a starter, I've been benched all kinds of different ways, but this one just really more so than any of them ... this organisation and what we've been through the last year and a half, this was kind of the first place other than Buffalo where I just felt fully committed and invested and felt like it was my team.

"To have that, I think that's a lot of the reason why I just ... my heart was so heavy yesterday. But that's the direction that the organisation and I've just got to accept it."

Tagovailoa threw for 7,442 yards, 87 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in a storied career with Alabama that saw him replace Jalen Hurts for the second half of the National Championship game at the end of the 2017 season and lead them to a dramatic overtime win over Georgia.

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