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5 Most Disappointing Miami Dolphins of 2018

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In a year littered with disappointment, it was hard to pick 5 players that outweighed the others.

On one hand, we didn’t have to bribe a quarterback out of retirement, Miami’s bye week occurred right on time, and no one was (caught) snorting cocaine at the office.

By most accounts, 2018 was actually an improvement over its predecessor. But that improvement doesn’t mean we weren’t disappointed with the outcome.

Our savior, Ryan Tannehill, was finally back after being resurrected for a 7th NFL season. Our mad scientist, Adam Gase, finally recruited the army of minions he always wanted; building “his” culture.

And then Miami finished 7-9; right back into the same familiar territory any Dolphins fan under 30-years old is used to.

While there is plenty of blame to go around, we can focus that energy on a handful of players who decided to stand up above the rest and become our 5 most disappointing players of 2018:

5) Charles Harris

Based on his 2017 performance and his 2018 salary, Charles Harris performed as expected. But that’s the problem, he was simply “Just A Guy”.

Former 1st-round picks don’t always pan out, but the hope is that they develop into cheap roster space that can supplement the more-expensive veterans on the roster.

Miami already had a dud of a 1st-round pick in DeVante Parker, so they really couldn’t afford another one in Harris. Though ultimately, it’s what they deserve.

Similar to DeVante Parker (and Mike Gesicki, as well as others), the Dolphins believed they could take a “talented” athlete and turn them into a football player. They were wrong in the past, and they are wrong once again. The last time the Dolphins went against that train of thought, and drafted a football player while ignoring the person’s (possibly lackluster) physical attributes, they drafted Jarvis Landry.

It’s possible Harris still evolves and develops, especially with a new coaching staff. But with a new defensive scheme expected to be implemented, Harris is an odd-man out. His ability to diagnose the run and set the edge is poor, he isn’t reliable in coverage, and his pass-rushing ability isn’t great either, which means he’ll be unable to survive in a 3-4 defensive front as an outside linebacker. And in this scheme, he’s too skinny to play with his hand in the dirt.

You have a better likelihood of William Hayes returning and being more productive than Charles Harris.

Like a bunch of other players on the roster, it’ll be interesting to see if the team tries to get something in return for the underwhelming defensive end. Though I’m hesitant to think that the team will desperately trade their under-performing talent, as Chris Grier was behind the selections of Harris, Parker and Gesicki; selling these players for pennies on the dollar is admitting a defeat that Grier might not be able to afford to admit.

Although it’s easy to play this game in retrospect, Miami drafting Harris at 22 cost them players like Evan Engram (drafted one spot after Harris, at 23), Jabrill Peppers (25), Takkarist McKinley (26), Tre’Davious White (27), David Njoku (29), T.J. Watt (30) and Ryan Ramczyk (32). Or in other words, everyone drafted after Harris in the 1st-round was a better option other than Reuben Foster. Even Taco Charlton has been more-productive than Harris, and at least he comes with a name we could meme.

4) Mike Gesicki

Saying the Miami Dolphins drafted the worst tight end in the 2018 NFL draft is actually not that much of an exaggeration. The only tight ends that performed less than Gesicki were either injured before their careers could get started, or they were lower-round draft picks. 1st-round pick Hayden Hurst did have less receptions and less yards than Gesicki, but he also participated in 4 less games than the former Penn State tight end.

Combined with the lackluster performance of our other rookie tight end, Durham Smythe, it’s clear this team is working without any production from a quarterback’s friendliest receiver.

While Smythe’s production can be excused because of his blocking ability, there is nothing we can excuse with Gesicki.

Another example of a superior athlete that has no business being on the football field, Gesicki was drafted to be the redzone threat the Dolphins have been missing since Charles Clay.

Instead, his biggest threat came when the defender had no idea what Gesicki was doing…only to find out he was tripping on air and falling before he could break his route. Sometimes he didn’t even break his block before falling to the ground.

If you enjoyed teasing Brian Hartline for all of the shoestring tackles he endured, you’d get a real kick out of Gesicki’s phantom falls.

Also, this never happened:

3) DeVante Parker

You would think DeVante Parker’s inclusion on this list would have more to do with the culmination of his NFL career rather than the 2018 season alone; but even by Parker’s standards this was a poor year.

Regardless of the statistic, Parker had the worst year of his career:

  • Receptions: 24 (next lowest: 26, Year: 2015)
  • Targets: 47 (50, 2015)
  • Yards: 309 (494, 2015)
  • Yards per Reception: 12.9 (11.8, 2017)
  • Touchdowns: 1 (1, 2017)

This also coincides with Parker’s least-taxing season on his body, as he had his lowest snap count of his 4-year career.

  • 2018: 411
  • 2017: 675
  • 2016: 735
  • 2015: 468

Of course injuries play a part in this, but it’s not like the injuries are anything new for Parker. Over his career, Parker has been active for 55 (out of a possible 65) games (84.62%), but his status has been suspect in most of those games. What’s more eye-opening is the fact that Parker has started just 31 games out of a possible 65 in his career (47.69%). For a former 1st-round pick, that’s undesirable.

Offering the 5th-year extension to a constantly-injured and eternally-inconsistent player was evidence enough that the Miami Dolphins still believed Parker could eventually shine as the beacon of hope we originally (and continued to) believe he could be. Instead, there’s a good chance Parker is on another roster in 2019.

2) Robert Quinn

Mike Tannenbaum couldn’t stay away from shiny objects. Ndamukong Suh was exhibit A, and Robert Quinn is the latest attraction.

A former 2x Pro Bowler and First-team All-Pro over half a decade ago, the thought of obtaining someone who has a history of multiple-sack seasons in their early-20s was too much for Tannenbaum to pass up on.

Sold as a player the Dolphins could fix because the Los Angeles Rams were playing Quinn out of position and the Rams have no clue what they’re doing, Quinn was brought on to cover up the other mistake Tannenbaum made by drafting Charles Harris in the 1st-round of the 2017 draft.

After toying with Ndamukong Suh, overpaying Andre Branch, continuously paying Cameron Wake and obtaining Robert Quinn, we finally figured we had it all together.

Nope.

Quinn had a decent second-half of the year, but it wasn’t enough to mask the disappointment we felt the first 10 weeks of the season.

As the most expensive player on the team (cap hit wise), Quinn was expected to change the course of games – simultaneously forcing the opposing quarterback off his rhythm AND making life easier on the secondary – and instead, he finished with 6.5 sacks, 38 total tackles and only 9 tackles for a loss. He did hit the quarterback 15 times, but he also started 16 games for the Dolphins, so that average is still underwhelming. (For reference, Wake hit the QB 17 times in 14 starts – and that was a “down” year for him).

Rebuilding in 2019 may be the blessing the Miami Dolphins need in order to purge themselves of these shiny objects they believe they can “turn around”. They do a good job of obtaining guys who may bounce back (Branch, T.J. McDonald, Kiko Alonso), but they do a terrible job paying them.

Just to solidify how poor the team handled Robert Quinn, I give you an excerpt from an article by Jason Lieser back in June of 2018. It’s a tad long, but it encompasses this team’s inability pretty well:

“…When the Rams offered [Quinn] for the mere price of a fourth-round pick. Miami defensive coordinator Matt Burke thought Adam Gase must have been messing with him.

“Yes, I’m good,” Burke replied. “Absolutely, 100 percent. I’m on board.”

Still, Gase insisted they do their due diligence anyway, so Burke went to freshly hired defensive line coach Kris Kocurek and told him they needed to watch Quinn’s film from last season to make sure there weren’t any red flags. It’d have to be a quick review because Mike Tannenbaum, Gase and Chris Grier didn’t want this opportunity to get away from them.”

On the opposite end, the Rams were celebrating as they relieved themselves of Quinn’s huge cap hit, allowing them to spend more-freely on the rest of their roster. This allowed them acquire the likes of Aquib Talib, Marcus Peters and Ndamukong Suh. I don’t think I even need to ask which scenario you’d rather have.

Honorable Mentions

Below are some additional players that disappointed us this season…just not enough to revel in the pantheon of under-performers:

Stephone Anthony – Is it really his fault he was a 1st-round bust for another team and our team stupidly paid a 5th-round pick to relieve them of their problem?

Andre Branch – Even though we knew he would be bad, he was atrocious. He actually disappointed our already nonexistent expectations.

Isaac Asiata – Asiata hasn’t contributed in the past and he continued his lack of contributions in 2018.

Jesse Davis – Davis played all 920 offensive snaps for the Dolphins this season, but he was expected to evolve; instead, he regressed somewhat mightily. His reliability saves him from being on this list.

Ted Larsen – He filled in and contributed 751 snaps at left guard, so it’s hard to fault him for his reliability. He was also reliably bad, so I guess we can’t fault him for being consistent, either. Larsen is also one of the main reasons why we beat the New England Patriots last season, so he gets a pass from the bottom-5.

Jordan Phillips – Phillips wasn’t on the roster long enough to completely disappoint us,  but his entire career has easily been a disappointment. So, like Andre Branch, his 2018 production isn’t a surprise, it’s just continuously disappointing. This is one draft bust we won’t forget, but we certainly won’t miss.

1) Ryan Tannehill

Come on, did you really expect it to be anyone else?

After starting 3-0 and being well on his way to purging any thought that he wasn’t a franchise quarterback, Ryan Tannehill shed his ironman status and missed time for his third-straight season.

Finishing the season at 5-6 as a starting quarterback, the future for Ryan Tannehill in Miami is about as bleak as the Dolphins projected record in 2019.

Statistically speaking, Tannehill didn’t have a “poor” season. Over the course of his 6 years as a starter, Tannehill’s stats were about as good as they have been:

  • Completion %: 3rd (best in his career – out of 6 seasons)
  • TD %: 1st
  • Yards per Attempt: tied-2nd
  • Yards per Reception: 4th
  • QB Rating: 3rd
  • Game Winning Drives: tied-1st

This probably explains why we should have discovered this problem earlier. 2018 was right on par with the rest of his Dolphins career. Problem is, it featured no evolution. No quarterback whisperer seducing him in his ear. No reason to believe that 2019 will be any better than 2018 (or 2017 or 2016 or any other year this century).

Between injuries, inconsistent quarterback play, inconsistent offensive line play, and an offensive gameplan that was predictably stale, our judgement is still clouded on the 7-year quarterback. We’re done with Tannehill because we don’t want to go through another year of uncertainty, not necessarily because he’s a poor choice.

We watch him do this:

And then we watch him do this:

Teammates simultaneously praise him and bash him as both a leader and a player. If the Miami Dolphins can’t mold Ryan Tannehill into a consistent franchise quarterback, it might be time to give someone else a try. Because all he’s going to do next year is continue to disappoint us.

Growing up a passionate Dolphins fan in Jets territory, Jason learned from an early age that life as a Dolphins fan wasn’t going to be easy. Previously the Sports Editor for his university newspaper, Jason has experience writing columns, creating game recaps and conducting interviews with Hall of Fame athletes (Harry Carson and Yogi Berra are two of his proudest interviews). When he’s not dissecting the latest sports news, you can find him perplexed over the Dolphins offensive line woes or involuntarily introducing music to his neighbors.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Melody

    February 15, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    I don’t think Robert Quinn deserved to be on the list. Newcomers, I think should get a pass on their first year. I would have put Asiata or Anthony in there instead. He did struggle for most of the year but that last quarter the d-line really played well and Quinn was the star in that bunch as he accumulated 3 sacks, 3 TFLs and 5 qb hits in that timespan.

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      March 1, 2019 at 11:22 am

      He did step up towards the end of the year, Melody, I agree! From my perspective, his inclusion centers more around his cap hit as well as the cost it took to acquire him (4th-round pick). It hit us pretty hard in two different areas and he didn’t make too much of a difference until that final stretch. I’m not against bringing Robert Quinn back and think he can still perform, it would just have to be on a much cheaper contract than what he cost us in 2018. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’ll get the chance and I think Miami parts ways with him in 2019.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Sign Chris Reed

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Looks like the Miami Dolphins have begun replacing the plethora of offensive linemen they either released or let walk this past offseason.

According to the Dolphins official social media account, the team signed offensive guard Chris Reed.

Details of the contract are currently unknown, but with the losses of Ja’Wuan James, Ted Larsen, Josh Sitton and possibly even players like Jake Brendel and Travis Swanson, the Dolphins need bodies to fill out their roster.

After signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent out of the 2015 NFL draft, Reed was placed on the team’s practice squad and wasn’t activated until September, 2016. Over the past three seasons, Reed has been active for 25 games and started 8 of them.

You can’t expect too much from this signing, as Reed is simply expected to compete for depth on the offensive line and it’s possible he doesn’t even make the team out of training camp. Then again, Ted Larsen was originally supposed to be offensive line depth and he ended up playing 1,272 snaps over the course of his two-year Dolphins career.

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Miami Dolphins

Rebuilding Previous Rebuilds

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Now that we have accepted the notion that the Miami Dolphins are going to start rebuilding their franchise in 2019 (and as a result, a lot of losing will incur), we have moved on to the optimistic hope that this team is going to build their foundation “right”.

Hope is about the only thing that will temper the frustration that comes with going 6-10 with freshly signed Ryan Fitzpatrick as our starting quarterback, so over the next calendar year, you’re going to hear how most decisions are geared towards 2020.

Sure, Fitzpatrick will dazzle us with a couple 400-yard passing games and a few offensive performances that trick us into believing that we don’t need to desperately grab a franchise quarterback, but don’t let those extremely inconsistent anomalies fool you. Miami most definitely needs a franchise quarterback – one that leaves us with minimal doubts at the top of the draft.

Are they going to trade up for one in 2019? Or are they going to, um, conveniently lose in 2019 and attempt to save their assets for 2020, where there’s a chance that four starting-caliber quarterbacks come out of college – all of whom are possibly better than the top-2 quarterbacks in this class: Dwayne Haskins and Kyler Murray?

As Travis echoed on Sunday, the Miami Dolphins are building a treasure trove of draft picks that will allow themselves to navigate the murkiest of trade waters in either 2019 or 2020. With the trade of Ryan Tannehill to the Tennessee Titans netting Miami an extra 4th-round draft pick – along with the assumption that losing Ja’Wuan James to the Denver Broncos will return an extra 3rd-round pick as a compensatory selection – Miami will have the ability to tack on whichever mid-round picks are required to seal the deal for a top-3 draft pick.

But with all of these assets in mind, can we confidently assume that the Dolphins are just one year away from being a relevant franchise that can sustain success? No, not one bit.

Since Chris Grier took over as the Director of College Scouting in 2007, Miami has had 5 drafts in which they have had at least 9 draft picks to work with. Although it’s obvious that not every draft pick is going to pan out, the assumption is that a team should be able to identify enough cheap labor to fill their roster. You don’t need superstars in every round, though it would be nice if the Dolphins drafted even one of them.

Before you get ready to soak in the success of 2020, I’m going to remind you of the somber past we have together. Hopefully, Grier doesn’t allow history to repeat itself:

2007

Chris Grier’s first year on the job yielded Miami with multiple draft steals, but came with an ample amount of draft busts as well.

Whether the selection was general manager Randy Mueller‘s, head coach Cam Cameron‘s, Grier’s, or a combination of the three, the Miami Dolphins shocked everyone by selecting Ted Ginn Jr with the 9th-overall pick in the draft.

Choosing Ted Ginn Jr over Brady Quinn proved to be the correct choice, but was Ginn really the player you wanted to commit a top-10 pick to? Especially when he was coming off of an injury and was seen more as a dynamic kick returner than an elite, #1 receiver?

Here are a few players taken shortly after Ginn was picked #9: Patrick Willis (11), Marshawn Lynch (12) and Darrelle Revis (14). I was going to include Lawrence Timmons (15th-overall), but I don’t think Miami fans are going to think too fondly of that linebacker (though let’s be honest, he was still a better pick than Ginn).

But the Miami Dolphins had 10 draft picks in 2007, and should have been able to build a team with more than just a failed 1st-round pick, right? Alas, this is what they graced us with that year:

Paul Soliai in the 4th-round and Brandon Fields in the 7th-round ended up being phenomenal choices for the Dolphins, as both players combined to play 227 games with Miami. Even Samson Satele was a good selection in the 2nd-round; Miami just doesn’t understand their own talent and allowed Satele to be a good starting center for two other teams instead of their own.

The rest of that draft class? Combined to be active for 32 games with the Dolphins. All of which were off the team by the start of the 2008 season.

2008

Coming off of a 1-15 season that felt less like a rebuild and more like a purgatory, the Dolphins were now poised to genuinely begin their ascension with the 1st-overall selection in the draft.

The thing is, Miami’s biggest mistake wasn’t selecting Jake Long with the #1 overall pick, but bringing an archaic Bill Parcells on board to build a team for the future.

Parcells figured there was no sense having a franchise quarterback if there was no one to protect him (the opposite logic of what the Dolphins did with Ryan Tannehill throughout his career), and selected Jake Long to protect whoever’s blindside.

You might be able to excuse Parcells for selecting a potential hall of fame left tackle (for the first four years of their career) over Matt Ryan, since Miami did have 8 more draft picks that year. Instead, this is how the draft shook out:

Kendall Langford was a solid player on the Dolphins defensive line throughout his rookie contract, but other than Jake Long he was the only player to plug a hole on the roster. You can say Chad Henne played prominently for the Dolphins, but we all know he was a detriment more than a solution, and even forced Miami to pick yet another quarterback in the 2nd-round the following draft.

Phillip Merling gave us that exciting interception against Brett Favre and the New York Jets the year Chad Pennington led the team to the playoffs, but other than that, he was basically an extra 1st-round pick that ended up being a complete bust.

After two years and 19 draft picks, the Dolphins should have set themselves up to be a young team worth reckoning with. Looking back, there were really only 5 players that filled a capable roster spot: Satele, Soliai, Fields, Long and Langford. For reference, NFL rosters held 52 players…

2009

After two failed drafts and nearly 19 wasted draft picks, the Miami Dolphins actually got a draft right. This comes with the caveat that it’s the third-consecutive year in which the team is selecting a quarterback in the 2nd-round, so it tells you just how lost the Dolphins really are.

Pat White was a fascinating college athlete to watch, but he had no business being a quarterback in the NFL. The football community was stunned to see White selected so high, but the Dolphins envisioned a quarterback that could complete their wildcat offense and keep opposing defenses confused at all times.

The only confusion White caused was on Miami’s offense, because the playbook was extremely small for the limited quarterback, and the offense was stale at best.

Miami’s best selections came from Vontae Davis and Sean Smith. The team also envisioned having a pair of young, cheap, shutdown corners to give Tom Brady, Brett Favre and whoever the Buffalo Bills had hell. And they were really onto something for a little bit, but Joe Philbin‘s inability to handle egos mixed with some immaturity on the player’s side “forced” the Dolphins to trade Davis and allow Smith to leave in free agency.

At the time, this was a very good draft, but looking back at it, it’s just some more disappointment:

Brian Hartline received a contract extension with the team and probably outperformed all of our expectations. Maybe it speaks to the lack of playmakers the Dolphins have had over their history, but Hartline has the 7th most receiving yards and 9th most receptions in Dolphins history. We can knock the extension as a separate topic, but selecting Hartline in the 4th-round was a very good draft pick.

Chris Clemons ended up playing 80 games with the Dolphins and served as a valuable depth player for 5 seasons.

This can be deemed a good draft for the Dolphins, but the problem is, we’re excited the team was able to find 3 starters. While every team would love to say they found 3 starters in each draft, the Dolphins didn’t have much of a roster around those guys, which meant the team hadn’t rebuilt much of anything up to this point.

A budding franchise looking to sustain success is going to need more than a good #3 receiver to escape mediocrity.

2012

2012 was another very good draft for the Dolphins that saw virtually no sustained success going forward. This is the point where you have to wonder if the Miami Dolphins legitimately try to win or if they’re fine creating media headlines and bringing in ad revenue.

Ryan Tannehill was the first 1st-round quarterback the Dolphins selected since Dan Marino back in 1983. Between all of the excitement and optimism, fans were sold on the fact that Tannehill was going to turn the team around (after he firmly learned the quarterback position). His old coach at Texas A&M, Mike Sherman, was set to be his offensive coordinator, so you know Miami was really building this thing right because, you know, “chemistry”.

7 seasons later, and there are no surviving members of the 2012 draft class. In fact, only one of them made it past year 4 (Tannehill) – which also happens to be the same number of players eventually arrested from this draft class (Jonathan Martin).

How can a team sustain success when the team doesn’t sustain any of their successful players?

Olivier Vernon and Lamar Miller proved to be great risks that Jeff Ireland took. Coming right out of the Dolphins backyard from the University of Miami, Vernon and Miller were underclassmen that Ireland saw potential in. And he was right.

Both outperformed their draft status and earned themselves wealthy contracts in free agency. This goes back to the argument that the Dolphins are incompetent when it comes to signing their own draft picks, so overall, this draft doesn’t seem like much, but this draft could have been much more than a free agent payday for 3 of their selections.

Rishard Matthews was one of the best 7th-round picks in Dolphins history, but Philbin’s deadpan personality placed Matthews on the bench for most of his rookie contract rather than the starting lineup ahead of players like B.J. Cunningham and Legedu Naanee.

As of 2019, the Dolphins are still looking for a player at every position from the list of 2012 draft picks (QB, RT, DE, TE, LB, WR and DT). You can say Miami doesn’t need a running back, but that’s also the easiest position to find and it’s not even like the team currently has a solidified running back room anyway.

2013

Identifying a “can’t-miss” athlete in an inactive market, Jeff Ireland made one of the best draft-day trades of the century and traded the team’s 1st-round pick (12th-overall) and 2nd-round pick (42nd-overall) to move up to #3 overall. That kind of trade would be unheard of today, where those top picks are commodities that you have to pry away with current and future draft capital.

So what did the Dolphins do with their robbery? Select a stellar athlete with a history of demons that rivals that of Josh Gordon.

Dion Jordan was built to be a football player, but he never actually wanted to be a football player. He wanted to escape reality and realized this was a profession he was good at. Fortunately for Jordan, but unfortunately for the Dolphins, Jordan took 5 years to mature past all of those inner turmoils and emerge as a defensive threat.

But like the theme of this article, his success doesn’t benefit the Miami Dolphins one bit.

Dion Jordan wasn’t the only player to fail Miami’s expectations yet perform better elsewhere.

2nd-round pick Jamar Taylor was always hampered by injuries and was shipped to the Cleveland Browns for a 27 slot draft boost in the 7th-round (a farcry from #54 overall). Dion Sims was a solid backup and blocking tight end before cashing in with the Chicago Bears. Mike Gillislee was a decent kick returner who has seen a good amount of success as a running back with the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots. Even Caleb Sturgis was viewed as a “bust” and has since played 36 games for other teams.

You could argue that Don Jones was Miami’s best draft pick behind Dion Sims that year, and that’s only because he was a very good gunner on special teams.

Truth is, the Dolphins have had plenty of opportunities to rebuild and yet, years later, here we are, still trying to rebuild. So now that Chris Grier has ultimate control, will this be the rebuild the Dolphins finally turn it around? 6th time’s a charm, right?

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Free Agent Analysis: Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick

Travis Wingfield

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Buckle up, Phins Fans – the Fitzmagic Roller Coaster is coming to your town

Ryan Fitzpatrick is on his eight NFL team following a circuitous route that spans 14 seasons as a professional football player. The journeyman stopgap heads to America’s retirement home on a two-year contract that starts at $11 million and could escalate to $20 million if unspecified incentives are met.

Though details of the contract’s structure are not yet available, it’s a near certainty that the bulk of the money will be paid out in year-one. With the Dolphins eating a chunk of dead cap, and pushing assets down the road, this move not only helps Miami get closer to the salary floor, it secures a sturdy backup quarterback for the 2020 season.

Whether it’s Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, Tua Tagovailoa, Jake Fromm or any other quarterback prospect, Fitzpatrick has been heralded for his calm demeanor and approach to providing this very important element to his past teams.

Barring a trade-up for one of the top two prospects in this draft Fitzpatrick will be under-center when the Dolphins open the season on the second Sunday in September. Only one September ago, Fitzpatrick was on an unprecedented roll for a quarterback of his caliber – of any caliber, really.

After the three-game stretch of consecutive 400 yard outputs, Fitzpatrick throttled into a nosedive throwing for less than 250 yards in four of his next five starts. Cumulatively, his passer rating on the season was 100.4, but he failed to eclipse the 90.0 mark in all but one of his final six starts.

The strengths and weaknesses of Fitzpatrick’s game are abundantly clear. Where the flashes with Ryan Tannehill provided false hope, Fitzpatrick is an open book – it only takes a couple of games of all-22 to figure out exactly who he is.

First, the strengths. I’ve talked at length about the importance of a backup quarterback providing the locker room and huddle with a sense of comradery. Whether it’s this season or next, Fitzpatrick will eventually be relegated to the number-two QB. The Ewing Theory suggests that the rest of the roster can elevate its game when the backup enters the lineup, but that typically only applies when said backup is likable.

That clip also showcases the gamer-mentality of Fitzpatrick. With reckless abandon, he’ll take a hit for his team in a way you’d never want your franchise quarterback to play.

As for Fitzpatrick the starter, the strength of his game is also his biggest weakness. He trusts his eyes as much as any quarterback going right now and will let ‘er rip without hesitation. There’s a hint of Matt Moore in his game where he evaluates pre-snap and makes quick decisions based on the leverage of the defense.

The first touchdown of the season for Tampa Bay provides a terrific example of Fitzpatrick’s ability to move the defense with his eyes and hips. The clip also showcases his strength as a play-action passer when given a comfortable pocket.

There’s a reason he’s been on eight teams in 14 years, however. That anticipation, coupled with sloppy mechanics, gets him into a lot of hot water. If the defense is at all nuanced, and capable of disguising coverage, he’s going to turn the ball over a heck of a lot.

Randomly, the ball will sail as he is prone to rushing his setup and spraying bullets all over the field. Pressure in his face only amplifies this shortcoming.

All things told, this was the best veteran option available both in terms of playing time and veteran mentor to the inevitable draft pick coming in a year or two. There will be equal parts excitement and sheer frustration with Fitzpatrick playing in Miami.

As far as the Tank for Tua conversation, this signing likely solidifies that Miami will not be the worst team in football. I’ve argued that they would never reach those valleys to begin, even with a rookie or Luke Falk under-center. I believe too strongly in Brian Flores and the staff he has assembled for this team to lose a number of games in the teens. Fitzpatrick at least gets Miami out of the massive hole of unworthy NFL quarterback territory.

Ideally, the Dolphins find their quarterback straight away and never have to start Fitzpatrick. The more likely outcome is that he starts the season and puts the Dolphins in a tough spot regarding the playing time incentives in his contract.

This signing is great from a financial standpoint right now, but if the Harvard product (had to get it in) starts hitting those contract escalators, that would not be ideal.

@WingfieldNFL

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