Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey need some relationship therapy.
With obvious struggles coming from Tua through the play calling and wide receiver depth, patience was a non-factor late Saturday versus the Las Vegas Raiders. It got to the point that the Dolphins chose to sit their young talent and sub in the man with all the knowledge, and frankly a better relationship with Gailey.
Ryan Fitzpatrick took the field for Miami with a little over nine minutes to play, filling in for Tagovailoa following a horrid performance – 17-22, 94 passing yards, touchdown. The 16-year veteran spread his “FitzMagic” and completed 9 of his 13 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown. He ultimately took the Dolphins into scoring territory on three consecutive possessions, helping them edge past the Raiders 26-25.
The Dolphins’ playoff hopes surpassed initial expectations as soon as Jason Sanders nailed the game-winning field goal. A miracle had happened, and Fitzpatrick was the one to get it done.
But just minutes after his illustrious performance, Brian Flores announced that Tagovailoa will remain the starter for Week 17 vs. the Buffalo Bills.
“We needed a spark to win the game,” Flores said on putting Fitzpatrick late in the game. “If we’ve got to go to our relief pitcher in the ninth, that’s what we’ll do.”
That said, many fans are leaning towards Fitzpatrick in the season deciding game.
Here’s the situation: does Flores go with his young talent, who is now known to have slow starts and hasn’t fully finished every game he’s played in? Or, does he go with his studded in brainpower QB who knows how the Bills play more than the youngster? That’s where it gets tough. Some may think that Fitzpatrick is playing the best football of his career, and that isn’t too far fetched. In contrast, Tagovailoa hasn’t played a game against the scary-looking Buffalo defense, a team where Fitzpatrick almost got the best of in Week 2 of the 2020 NFL season. The decision may be final in Flores’ eyes, but he may want to reconsider Fitzpatrick going into the biggest game of his young coaching career.
“I wanna get in, I wanna go. I think we have a special team here,” Fitzpatrick said of making the playoffs for the first time in his career.
After all, Miami’s passing games has tended to be more successful with Fitzpatrick under center. Against Las Vegas, Fitzpatrick threw 5 of six for 154 yards and a touchdown when throwing for more than five yards downfield. As for Tagovailoa, he went 3 of 7 for 35 yards.
Tagovailoa’s success comes with a clean pocket, having thrown 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions when he has time to throw. Against Buffalo, who ranks as the No. 14 team in sacks per game, that hole might not be available all the time, which could create standstills offensively.
The Dolphins will need Fitzpatrick this upcoming Saturday, whether it be to start or provide a spark late in the game. The 1-2 punch of him and Tua has blemished well, and it could ultimately take them into a postseason run.