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Miami Dolphins

Top 5 Miami Dolphins of 2018

Jason Hrina



Image Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In a year full of things to forget, the Miami Dolphins were able to produce some players we could be proud of.

While we probably could have reduced the list from 5 to anything lower than that, we were able to muster up enough reasoning to warrant 5 (extremely) productive players for this team in 2018.

You can probably predict who’s going to be on this list, as there weren’t many players that exceeded expectations, though figuring out which 5 performed above the others might not be an easy thing to forecast.

In conjunction with our Top 5 Most Disappointing Players of 2018, we bring you our Top 5 Players of 2018; take a look at the players that made our list, and feel free to slot them where you’d like:

5) Minkah Fitzpatrick

Minkah Fitzpatrick wasn’t the only rookie or sophomore to shine on the Dolphins. Among all of the negativity, Dolphins fans can find solace in the fact that this team does have a pretty nice group of young, core players.

Fitzpatrick’s season was virtually as productive as players like Davon Godchaux, Vincent Taylor, Jerome Baker and others, so why is he on this list and the others are not?

Versatility and positional impact have a lot to do with Fitzpatrick’s importance on this team. Don’t get me wrong, Miami suffers mightily if they do not have one of those other players mentioned, but they don’t dissolve as quickly as they do if they don’t have Fitzpatrick.

A man brought to this team (allegedly) without a position, Fitzpatrick found himself saving the Dolphins at safety, slot corner and boundary corner. How is it that we have players on this team that are unable to understand their coverage assignments (looking at T.J. McDonald, Byron Maxwell in 2017 and – it pains me to say it – Bobby McCain in 2018), yet Fitzpatrick provides blanket-coverage at three different positions?

Not to mention, Fitzpatrick’s ability to diagnose and disrupt a play is as impressive as his open-field tackling. The pick-6 he had against the Minnesota Vikings wasn’t necessarily a bad pass by Kirk Cousins. Look at the initial freeze-frame of the clip above. Cousins’ arm is already cocked and Fitzpatrick is currently being occupied by the tight end. Within the next 1-2 seconds, Fitzpatrick will have shed his block and read Cousins’ throw, leading to the pick-6.

His football acumen is heads-and-tails above others and it’s absolutely fascinating to watch.

Fitzpatrick is a tremendous bright spot for this team and the only way you believe the Dolphins got this selection wrong is if you believe the team should have traded up for either Sam Darnold or Josh Allen (or even Baker Mayfield). A young, prime corner back provides the perfect compliment to (or replacement for…) Xavien Howard.

Why is he so high (or low, depending how you view it) on the list then?

Fitzpatrick had some instances where he was exposed in coverage, though not enough for us to get disgruntled. In fact, outside of a few rookie mistakes, Fitzpatrick looked nothing like a rookie and easily outperformed 4-year corner Bobby McCain. Just imagine how much he’ll evolve with a real NFL offseason under his belt.

4) Albert Wilson

How bad was the 2018 season that Albert Wilson played in only 7 games, and is still considered one of the top 5 Miami Dolphins of the year…and it’s not even like he’s #5. The only reason he isn’t higher is because he played just 44% of the season; otherwise, he’d still be running into 1st-place on our list of top Dolphins.

Kenny Stills has been a productive player for the Dolphins, but when was the last time Miami had a receiver that could outperform the opposing cornerback on almost every play? Jarvis Landry was phenomenal, but was never really a mismatch. Mike Wallace was a (bad) deep threat. Brandon Marshall was a (poor) #1 wide receiver whose hands were stiffer than Jakeem Grant‘s.

Wilson isn’t tall like Randy Moss, he isn’t fast like Desean Jackson, and he isn’t the big-bodied receiver you can’t outbox like Calvin Johnson Jr. was. Wilson’s agility and shiftiness have cornerbacks desperate to keep up with him on a route.

I don’t want to put Wilson in the same class as those other receivers; but it’s hard to deny the impact Wilson had on the Dolphins season. He is the sole reason why this team was viewed as a playoff team throughout the beginning of the season. Ryan Tannehill flourished off of his ‘yards after the catch’ (YAC), and this offense actually produced an undercover #1 receiver.

The “other player without a position” the Dolphins acquired this past off season, Wilson’s 335 YAC have him 51st in the league in 2018 – 3 yards shy of Kareem Hunt – but he also played less than half the games most of these other players participated in. If you take his 7-game total and trend it out into a 16-game season, Wilson would have finished with 766 YAC, good for 4th on the list – 2 yards shy of Saquon Barkley.

3) Frank Gore

At 35 years old, Frank Gore is closer to proving he’s part of the same robotic species that produced Cameron Wake than retiring from the NFL. In no regard should a football player (playing possibly the most violent position) be able to outrun and out-muscle peers over 10 years younger than him.

Gore alluded tacklers as often as he ran through them – the former University of Miami standout has been yearning to come back home for years, and the Dolphins finally obliged this past off season when they signed the future Hall of Famer to a $1.1m contract. And they couldn’t have spent $1m any better than they did.

The aging wonder was expected to be a backup running back originally meant to compliment Kenyan Drake‘s breakout season. A leader, a phenomenal human being, and dedicated workhorse, Gore proved he was more than just a mentor for future starting running back Kalen Ballage.

More durable than any of DeVante Parker‘s seasons, Gore’s injury in Week 15 dampened what was otherwise an excellent year for the running back. Although the overall numbers may not be overwhelming, the consistency he provided this offense is somewhat immeasurable.

On paper, you see 722 rushing yards, 124 receiving yards, and only one total touchdown on the year. But when compared to Kenyan Drake, Gore’s numbers stack up something like:

Rushing Yards per Snap:
Gore: 2.19
Drake: 0.98

Receiving Yards per Snap:
Gore: 0.38
Drake: 0.88

Total Yards per Snap:
Gore: 2.56
Drake: 1.86

Of course the argument can be made that Drake was misutilized and should have received the ball more – and you wouldn’t be wrong with that assessment. But in an offense that required progress on each play, one running back was more productive than the other.

2) Laremy Tunsil 

Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa (99) works against Miami Dolphins offensive guard Laremy Tunsil (67). Image Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

From bong mask to bonafide stud, Laremy Tunsil has proven why he was viewed as the #1 prospect heading into the 2016 draft.

Handling the most important position on the offense next to the quarterback, Tunsil is an island all-his-own. Prior to giving up a sack with 2 games left in the season, Tunsil was nearly perfect in 2018. His ability to shutdown the opposing team’s best pass rusher on a weekly basis is an overlooked commodity on this team. It’s something we may take for granted after watching years of ineptitude grace our offensive line.

Sometimes, silence is golden, and the less you hear an offensive lineman’s name, the better off you are. Using the 5th-year option on Tunsil is probably one of the most obvious things that will happen in 2019, as the elite left tackle enters the 4th-year of his professional career. Between Howard and Tunsil hitting free agency soon, it’ll be interesting to see how the Dolphins manage this situation going forward. While it’s great to have such elite talent, it’s going to come at a premium cost – and for a rebuilding team, it may be a tough bill to pay.

You can easily interchange #1 and #2 on this list. Both players play premium positions that come with a hefty price tag. Both are young (drafted in the same draft) and both are necessary to have if you want to be a legitimate playoff team. I’d say that Tunsil’s nagging injuries throughout his career are a reason for putting him second, but that doesn’t hold too much weight when the #1 player on our list has the same issues.

Honorable Mentions

Below are a few players that exceeded our expectations this season – and can be viewed as bright spots going forward. It’s tough to say they were better than the others, as most still have flaws of their own:

Jakeem Grant – An injury late in the season keeps Jakeem Grant from making the list. A dynamic player that evolved as a receiver, Grant found the end zone as a receiver, as a punt returner and as a kick returner. His ability to line up in multiple positions at receiver (or even as a tailback) gives the defense something to hesitate about – and when your team has Kenny Stills, Albert Wilson and Kenyan Drake as play makers, the defense is going to get confused (which further exasperates how inept this offense was last year). As long as Grant can soften up his hands just a little bit more, the Dolphins might have their 2019 receiving core already intact.

Ja’Wuan JamesJa’Wuan James performed very well this past season, and after 5 years of desiring consistency from our former 1st-round pick, we may have finally received some of that in 2018. James started 15 games last season and was a bright spot at right tackle, but his career arc has him ready to miss half the 2019 season. By year, he has started the following number of games:

  • 2014: 16
  • 2015: 7
  • 2016: 16
  • 2017: 8
  • 2018: 15
  • 2019: ?

Like we said…developing consistency.

John Denney – Legend.

Travis Swanson – The Miami Dolphins were 7-6 and had a chance at the playoffs because Travis Swanson existed. What started out as a tumultuous tenure, Swanson smoothed out and turned into a consistent blocker during the second half of the season. Especially when you have Ted Larsen and Jesse Davis on either side of you providing little assistance, it’s interesting to see just how admirably a last-second addition to the roster performed for the team. I wouldn’t be upset if Swanson returned as the starting center for 2019.

Kenyan Drake – I was originally about to publish this piece without Kenyan Drake on this list, but that would have been foolish of me. While we expected more production from Drake than what we witnessed, it’s not his fault the offensive gameplan seemed to be unable to utilize their best playmakers with any kind of consistency. This was supposed to be his 1000 yard rushing season, and instead, he barely eclipsed 1000 offensive yards combined (finishing with 535 rushing yards, 477 receiving yards, and 1012 total offensive yards). But his 9 total touchdowns further support the visual evidence that Drake is a winner waiting to happen on every play. It’ll be interesting to see what a new head coach and offensive coordinator can get out of Drake as he enters the final year of his rookie contract.

Jason Sanders – Kickers are an extremely important position on your team (ask Chicago Bears‘ fans how they feel about Cody Parkey), but it’s hard to designate Sanders a top-5 player when his biggest advantage was consistency. And it’s a welcomed consistency at that, but it would have required a dominant season to put him in the Top 5 – even during a wasted 2018.

Davon Godchaux – The former 5th-round pick continues to flourish for this team, and has earned his way into the starting lineup for 2019. The lackluster performance by the rest of the defensive line forced Godchaux into double-duty at times, as he was tasked with typically handling both the opposing center and guard on the same play. His future for the Dolphins is just as bright as….

Vincent Taylor – Miami’s former 6th-round pick could have possibly been on a brighter path than Godchaux if a foot/toe injury didn’t cut his season short to just 8 games. Vincent Taylor broke out in 2018, producing 27 total tackles, 3 tackles for a loss, 2 QB hits and 2 sacks; or in other words, more tackles, tackles for a loss and sacks than 1st-round pick Charles Harris.

Jerome Baker – Jerome Baker showed plenty of flashes that indicate he’s going to be around for awhile, but he also had enough hiccups throughout the year to label him as just a “good” player. His sophomore year should feature more development, less false-steps, and quicker diagnosis. If he’s able to shoot the gap and track interceptions like he did his rookie year, he’s only going to get better. Expect Baker to be a somewhat obvious candidate for “breakout player of the year” in 2019.

1) Xavien Howard

Welcome to the NFL, Sam Darnold. Welcome back, Andrew Luck. How did proving your mediocrity feel, Derek Carr? I see you still remember those nonexistent throwing lanes from last season and you’re avoiding treasure island, Tom Brady.

After trading up in the second-round of the 2016 draft, the Miami Dolphins selected a prototype press-cornerback they believed they could coach into a real NFL player. And for all the times we drill them for drafting the DeVante Parker’s, Charles Harris’, and Daniel Thomas‘ of the world, Xavien Howard is one they got right.

Still misidentified as “Xavier” more often than all of those “experts” around the nation would like to admit, Howard made a household name for himself when he ended 2018 tied for the most interceptions on the season and made his first career Pro Bowl. The two other players he tied with? Played in 4 more games than Howard did.

Howard finished 2018 with the least amount of tackles of his 3-year career (including his injury-riddled rookie season in which he only active for 7 games), though that’s more of a testament to opposing quarterbacks avoiding Howard rather than Howard’s inability to make plays.

Whether or not this shutdown corner is on the team going forward remains a mystery, as it’s possible the team utilizes their biggest trade chip (alongside Tunsil) to rebuild the roster. It’s somewhat tough to justify extended a cornerback with an extremely expensive contract when his best years are going to be wasted rebuilding. For all of my business friends out there, the return on investment probably hints towards trading Howard than keeping him.

But until he’s gone, he’s one of the only players we can confidently say we’re happy to have.

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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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Sign Chris Reed

Jason Hrina



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



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:


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.


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…


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 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.


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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Miami Dolphins

Free Agent Analysis: Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick

Travis Wingfield



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.


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