When the Miami Dolphins announced this week that they have elevated Tua Tagovailoa to be their starting quarterback following Week 7's bye, some wondered if Ryan Fitzpatrick, the team's No. 1 signal-caller since 2019, was aware that a change was coming. The 37-year-old veteran, after all, has long been hailed as a mentor and/or short-term solution in Miami, and he was seen applauding Tagovailoa's debut in the Dolphins' Week 6 win. Fitzpatrick told reporters Wednesday, however, that the big switch was a surprise to him. And not only that, but it "broke his heart."
"My heart just hurt all day," Fitzpatrick said during a conference call, explaining that he was "shocked" when coach Brian Flores informed him Tagovailoa would be taking over, then began to ponder whether he'd played his last game in the NFL.
"I basically got fired yesterday," he added, per Armando Salguero, "and my day today consisted of Zoom meetings with the guy who fired me, and sitting in a room with the guy who replaced me for four hours."
Talk about being transparent. Fitzpatrick, who led the Dolphins to a 3-3 record this year, positioning Miami just one game out of first place in the AFC East with the bye on tap, made clear with his comments that Tagovailoa's sudden promotion was, in fact, a surprise inside the building. And while there's a real case to be made that Tua's upside justifies the Dolphins' abrupt change at the most important position on the field, it's fair to wonder whether Fitzpatrick's obvious disappointment in the move will have any effect on the rest of the team, which saw the veteran journeyman find occasional success in 2019 as well.
"Fitz has been great," Flores told reporters this week. "I don't know if anybody has been more instrumental in trying to instill a culture and embody a lot of the things we're looking for in terms of toughness, competitiveness, (being) team-first. He's made an impact on Tua but a lot of other players on this team. I have great respect for him, and that made this decision very tough. But at the end of the day, we felt like this was the best move for our team now moving forward. But we feel like with Fitz, the way he handles himself and his impact on this team, I feel like it will still be there."