Ryan Fitzpatrick’s initial reaction was to laugh when he was asked what it felt to know that the Miami Dolphins fan base want him gone from the starting lineup so that rookie Tua Tagovailoa can start trying to fulfill the high expectations they have for him.
For anybody who’s been around the veteran quarterback for any period of time, that was not surprising in the least. It’s part of his personality, part of the charm that has made him so popular with teammates and the media alike wherever he’s been.
Fitzpatrick knows the time will come when he’ll be asked to step aside to make room for the former college star, but until that time comes he’s just going to continue doing what he’s been doing — nothing more, nothing less.
“It’s not really something that I can afford to think about,” Fitzpatrick said. “I have so much other stuff going on throughout the week and during a game. For me, I just go out and try to play the best that I can in each game, and that’s where I put my focus. If you start thinking about that stuff and allowing that to affect the way you’re playing – whether you want to be more risky or more careful, that’s just not really who I am. I’m going to go out there, prepare and then play the game the way I play it. That’s something I think can be a mistake as a quarterback, is to look at that and to start playing with not your full focus out and trying to beat the other team, but having your focus on other things. I think that’s a recipe for disaster.”
The situation has similarities to what happened last year with Fitzpatrick, who signed with the Dolphins and then watched the team trade second- and fifth-round picks to Arizona to get 2018 first-round selection Josh Rosen.
Fitzpatrick beat out Rosen in training camp, but was replaced as the starter after two games, only to get the call in the third quarter of the early-October game against Washington and remain in the lineup the rest of the season.
Fitzpatrick made it clear last year he wasn’t thrilled about being taken out of the starting lineup, but declined to address how he would take it this time around. In doing so, he did make an interesting revelation in terms of the quarterback room.
“I don’t want to do the hypothetical thing,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think last year was last year, and that was definitely a much different situation in who was in the room and who is in the room this year. I’ll just stick with my line, which is I’m going to do my best for this week and hopefully continue to lead this team and whenever that day comes, we’ll cross that bridge.”
In the meantime, he’ll focus on his job and try to drown out the outside noise, though he understands it’s there.
“Yeah, I mean, this has been my career,” Fitzpatrick said. “I guess if anybody is used to being in this situation, it would be me. I focus on the every day, and that’s it. I really do, and I put everything I can into each game. You try to forget the last game if it’s a good one or a bad one, and work on the next one. I get it, and obviously I’ve been in a lot of different cities and a lot of different scenarios, and this scenario has been one in a lot of different places for me, but I just try to be very myopic and go about my business that way.”