Ryan Fitzpatrick Was 'Floored' When Dolphins Benched Him for Tua Tagovailoa

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 12, 2021

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA - JULY 29: Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the Washington Football Team takes the field during training camp at the Bon Secours Washington Football Team training center park on July 29, 2021 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Washington Football Team quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said he was "floored" to learn he was being benched by the Miami Dolphins during their Week 7 bye last year after back-to-back wins where they scored a total of 67 points.

Fitzpatrick, who signed with Washington in March, told Robert Mays of The Athletic in an interview released Thursday he couldn't believe the decision by Dolphins head coach Brian Flores to hand the offense to rookie Tua Tagovailoa while they were firing on all cylinders.

"I have a ton of respect for [Flores], and we have a very good relationship," Fitzpatrick said. "But I thought it was a joke at first. We're putting Tua in? I was floored."

He added: "That was my team. ... I fought through the s--t with those guys. I get the way that the NFL works. I get it. But to have it happen the way it did..."

Chan Gailey, who served as the Dolphins' offensive coordinator last year before stepping down in January, was also caught off guard by the quarterback change.

"I was in total shock," Gailey told Mays. "We didn't even have a preseason. It was a totally new offense [for Tua]. We were just starting to hit our stride. We'd won two in a row and scored a bunch of points and moved the ball well. It came as a shock to me."

Miami carried a 3-3 record into its bye after an 0-2 start. It surged into playoff contention with five wins over its next six games (four starts by Tagovailoa and two by Fitzpatrick) and held a 9-5 record ahead of a Week 16 game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

With the offense struggling, Flores made the switch from Tagovailoa to Fitzpatrick while trailing 16-13 heading into the fourth quarter. "Fitz Magic" led the Dolphins to 13 points in the fourth in a 26-25 win to keep the team's postseason hopes alive.

It raised questions about who would start the regular-season finale against the Buffalo Bills, but Fitzpatrick was ruled out after being placed on the COVID-19 list. Miami suffered a 56-26 blowout loss and missed the playoffs as a result.

Here's a look at the final numbers for both signal-callers in 2020:

  • Fitzpatrick: 68.5% completion rate, 249.1 yards per game, 13 TD, 8 INT, 2 rushing TD
  • Tagovailoa: 64.1% completion rate, 192.3 yards per game, 11 TD, 5 INT, 3 rushing TD

Although Tagovailoa has a pretty strong grip on the Dolphins' starting job for the 2021 season, the front office did add a veteran backup in Jacoby Brissett, who made 30 starts across for years with the Indianapolis Colts, to provide a little security at the position.

Fitzpatrick is expected to start for Washington, though he's facing training camp competition from Taylor Heinicke. It could become the ninth different team he's started for during a 17-year NFL career.

Unfortunately, Miami and Washington don't face off during the regular season because that game would have carried ample intrigue given Fitzpatrick's comments and both teams' status as playoff contenders.