Fitzpatrick will miss Sunday's crucial season finale vs. the Buffalo Bills, where the 10-5 Dolphins will attempt to earn a playoff berth.
Given the NFL's coronavirus protocol, Fitzpatrick will have to self-isolate for at least 10 days, meaning he could also potentially miss a playoff game if the Dolphins qualify and are scheduled to play on Saturday, Jan. 9.
"It hurts. He's a leader of our team. He brings energy," safety Eric Rowe told reporters. "I'm sure it's worse for him because he loves the game and nobody wants to catch COVID. With that, you have to push forward. My reaction was praying for his health. That's a real deal thing. Just praying he doesn't have the symptoms and didn't spread it to his family."
That means rookie Tua Tagovailoa won't have Fitzpatrick backing him up against the Bills. Fitzpatrick came into the game late in a Week 16 matchup vs. the Las Vegas Raiders and led the team to a comeback win, though after the game head coach Brian Flores maintained that Tagovailoa remains the starter.
Any lingering doubts about that have been extinguished with Fitzpatrick unavailable.
"There's really no extra, added pressure. The expectation for myself is very high in how I perform and how I go out there and try to lead the guys to victory," Tagovailoa told reporters after Flores named him the starter. "Obviously, this past weekend, I didn't play to that standar. If you can't get the job done, then that's on you. That's on no one else."
That will be especially true this weekend, with Fitzpatrick unavailable in relief. Tagovailoa has had his ups-and-downs as a rookie, throwing for 1,453 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions in nine games, completing 65.1 percent of his passes. The Dolphins are 6-2 in his starts.
And now he'll have to come up big in the most important game of his young career.