It’s not standard practice for NFL teams to announce their starting quarterback on Twitter the Tuesday before a game.
But that’s exactly what the Miami Dolphins did this week. And sorry, Tua fans. It’s Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The Dolphins made the official announcement that Fitzpatrick will start against the San Francisco 49ers as pressure mounts to start first-round rookie Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa remains Fitzpatrick’s backup.
Brian Flores not rushing Tua Tagovailoa
Head coach Brian Flores addressed the Tua chatter on Monday and indicated that he was a long shot to start in Week 5.
“Look, I understand where everybody’s coming from with Tua,” Flores told reporters on Monday. “I get all that.”
“At the same time, he’s a young player, he’s coming off the injury. So, we’ll make the decision on the starter, but I would presume it’s going to be Fitzpatrick.”
Tuesday’s official announcement just confirms what Flores all but made clear on Monday. The team’s not ready to throw Tagovailoa into the fire.
Typical Fitzpatrick ups and downs
Ryan Fitzpatrick hasn’t necessarily been bad through Miami’s first four games. He’s been Ryan Fitzpatrick — a polarized mix of big plays and bad turnovers as he’s thrown for four touchdowns and run for two more while turning the ball over six times (five interceptions, one fumble lost).
It’s what should be expected of a 37-year-old Fitzpatrick who’s made a career out of entertaining — if not always effective — quarterback play that comes with his gambler’s mentality.
But the Dolphins are 1-3 and Tagovailoa’s pending NFL debut is one of the most anticipated in years. He was the second quarterback off the board in April’s draft after the Cincinnati Bengals selected Joe Burrow at No. 1.
Rookie QBs are thriving
But before Burrow’s rocket-like ascension with LSU last season and Tagovailoa’s season-ending hip injury with Alabama, Tagovailoa was the target of every struggling franchise in need of a quarterback.
The Dolphins have him, and fans want to see him. The success of Burrow and Los Angeles Chargers rookie Justin Herbert through the first four weeks of the season is only ramping up that pressure.
But Tagovailoa is coming off a serious injury. And even if he’s medically cleared, he hasn’t had the preparation that his fellow rookies have. Taking time with Tagovailoa is the prudent move.
Flores cautious with Tua’s hip injury
Flores made clear on Monday why he doesn’t intend to bend to outside pressure.
“Look, the honest thing from me is if he was my kid and he had a serious injury like that, I wouldn’t want his coach to be in a rush to throw him in there because of media pressure or anything like that,” Flores said. “Essentially they are my kids. No one is going to pressure me into doing anything. When we feel like he’s ready to go, we’ll put him in.”
The upside of starting Tagovailoa is that a Dolphins team not built for the playoffs this season becomes more competitive as their rookie quarterback progresses. That’s not worth the downside of playing a recently injured rookie before he’s ready.
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