This Dolphins Team Is Not Divided

This Dolphins Team Is Not Divided

When Miami coach Brian Flores announced that rookie first-round draft pick Tua Tagovailoa would supplant veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick as the Dolphins starting quarterback, beginning with Sunday’s home game against the Rams, there was an element of shock value.

The Dolphins, after all, are 3-3, riding a two-game winning streak and averaging more than 26 points per game, and Fitzpatrick has played well. When Flores dropped the news bomb, Fitzpatrick spoke of being “heartbroken’’ by the switch, telling reporters he truly felt like these Dolphins were his team.

If you felt badly for Fitzpatrick, that’s perfectly understandable. But the reality is the 37-year-old journeyman, when he was brought to Miami, never was going to be anything other than a stopgap for the Dolphins, a placeholder for Tagovailoa.

Fitzpatrick has started for eight different teams in his 16-year career — an NFL record — and there’s a reason he never stayed in one place for a long period of time. He never led any of those teams to the playoffs.

Tagovailoa is the Dolphins’ future, and the sooner he becomes their present, the better that future will be.The Dolphins have made two playoff appearances in the past 18 seasons and have one winning record in the past 11. The hope in South Florida is that Tua Time is the beginning of the end of that futility.

If you have any questions about whether Flores lost the locker room making the switch, comments from his teammates about Tagovailoa tell the story. “He’s everything you want in a quarterback,” receiver Preston Williams told reporters this week. “You wouldn’t think he was a rookie if you watched him in practice. The kid is incredible, and I’m looking forward to going out there and playing with him Sunday,’’ defensive end Shaq Lawson said. “Tua has done a phenomenal job earning everybody’s respect in the locker room,’’ said Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki, who credits Fitzpatrick for igniting his career as a pass catcher. “I look forward to seeing him making a big play because you know it’s eventually coming  and how he reacts to that. It’s exciting to be part of that chapter.” A chapter that has come to an end, for now.

-Brian Wilkinson Jr

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