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Miami Dolphins: Ryan Fitzpatrick expected to be back with team in 2020

One part of the quarterback equation for the Miami Dolphins is not going anywhere.

At least one part of the Miami Dolphins quarterback equation will be solved in 2020. According to a report from Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, Dolphins general manager Chris Grier expects Ryan Fitzpatrick to be back in 2020.

Fitzpatrick performed well for Miami given the circumstances. He threw for 3,529 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. His best game came against the Cincinnati Bengals. In what was in overtime contest, he threw for 419 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. His 31 completions that day were his second-most on the season.

Fitzpatrick’s 20 touchdowns on the season were the most he threw in any season since 2015. That year, he threw 31 with the New York Jets. His passing yards were also the most he had in his career since 2015.

The veteran quarterback signed a two-year, $11 million contract with the Dolphins in 2019. This included  $7 million in guaranteed money.  This season, he will make an $8 million base salary.

The Dolphins figure to be in the quarterback market heading into this year’s draft. They have the fifth pick in the first round. They are meeting with several quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl this week. There has been an overwhelming line of thinking that the Miami Dolphins will select Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth overall pick. The Miami Dolphins certainly have a lot of options at their disposal.

What role Fitzpatrick will play in 2020 remains to be seen. He will either be the starting quarterback as Miami looks to develop a rookie. Alternatively, he could be a mentor as the rookie ascends to the starting role. Whatever the case may be, the Miami Dolphins are making an effort to try and bring stability and talent to the quarterback position. How they will execute it remains to be seen.

Dolphins Chris Grier

Pressure Point: Up to Chris Grier to build on Brian Flores’ good work

Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores just made the job of general manager Chris Grier a whole lot tougher.

So be it.

How can you care at all about the Dolphins and not find delight in the stunning 27-24 upset they pulled off Sunday in Flores’ finale as a rookie head coach in his first visit to New England, where he worked for 15 years in the Belichick regime?

Especially when it mucks up Patriots playoff plans, denying them a first-round bye.

Also considering Miami hadn’t won at Foxborough since September 2008.

I know. I know. By winning five of their last nine to finish 5-11, the Dolphins strayed far from the tanking playbook — which Flores always claimed he wasn’t in on anyway. And there is no choice but to believe him now.

Win didn’t hurt draft standing

Sunday didn’t alter their standing in the draft order anyway.

Trying to win by losing has always been a cockamamie concept. Of greater importance, the win at New England was the latest in a growing stack of evidence that the Dolphins finally have a coach they can win with.

It was remarkable, really, coming to New England as 17-point underdogs and considering the 43-0 debacle in Miami in Week 2.

Sure, now Flores must show he can win more meaningful games when given the tools to work with. But he achieved far more with less than Adam Gase did in taking the 2016 Dolphins to the playoffs in his first season.

But he has a locker room full of believers, and likely much of the fan base.

Now that this most confusing of Dolphins seasons is over, speculation can shift from what they may or may not be trying to achieve on the field to what they must accomplish in the NFL draft.

Now it’s all about what Grier will do with those three first-round and assorted extra draft picks (14 total in 2020).

Finding the quarterback of the future remains the general manager’s mandate despite the team’s competitive gains behind the inspired play of veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Dolphins give Patriots a taste of their own medicine

Tua tough call as first-round pick

The Dolphins have the No. 5 pick next April and may have a chance to select Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa (provided he enters the draft), who must come back from a significant hip injury.

Maybe Tua will fare better than Bo Jackson, whose mercurial career was halted by a hip injury. Considering the injuries to both ankles that have also sidelined Tagovailoa, his durability is an issue.

Grier will spend more time poring over Tua’s medical reports than his game film. It will take conviction to make that choice or another available quarterback.

Regardless of whichever quarterback Grier chooses, bringing back Fitzpatrick would buy time in the development process.

Fitz reached folk hero status with what he accomplished leading an offense devoid of any reliable running game. That was cemented Sunday by outplaying Tom Brady and orchestrating the winning touchdown drive capped by the payoff pass to Mike Gesicki.

That doesn’t change that Grier must come away from the draft with a quarterback, but it’s just the top of a laundry list of needs.

Numerous needs on offense, defense

On offense, the challenge is to upgrade the line and add a featured running back, through draft picks and signings.

The receiving corps is respectable, with DeVante Parker having a breakout year and Gesicki making major strides in his second season. But pass protection and blocking for the running game needs to improve.

On defense, pass rushers are top priority, on the line and at linebacker. An ever-changing cast in the defensive backfield held its own against Tom Brady on Sunday, highlighted by former Patriot Eric Rowe’s pick-six. But Grier will be looking for another cornerback and likely a safety, especially if Reshad Jones isn’t brought back.

Grier is on the clock and on the spot for 2020.

As for 2019, which began with getting outscored 163-26 in the first four games, Sunday’s stunner made it almost sad to see time expire.

One thing for sure, the time for hoping for losses is thankfully over.

Craig Davis has covered South Florida sports and teams, including the Dolphins, for four decades. Follow him on Twitter @CraigDavisRuns

Miami Dolphins: Ryan Fitzpatrick has record-setting day in win

The Miami Dolphins quarterback had a big day on Sunday.

The Miami Dolphins defeated the Cincinnati Bengals by a 38-35 score in what took five quarters of football to play. One of the major reasons Miami won on Sunday was the play of Ryan Fitzpatrick.

He has the nickname  Fitzmagic for a reason, and he showed why on Sunday. He went 31-of-52 on the day, throwing for 419 yards, four touchdowns, and an interception.

Fitzpatrick steps up right from the get-go

Fitzpatrick started his successful day early on. His pass to Christian Wilkins set the tone early, no matter how it looked. At the five minute mark in the first quarter, he threw a strike to Devante Parker for a seven-yard touchdown. That gave Miami a 14-0 lead.

Fitzpatrick would be silent until near the end of the second quarter. With 2:20 left in the quarter, he threw a pass to Mike Gesicki. Fitzpatrick and the tight end would find a connection twice in this game. A touchdown at the 8:24 mark in the third quarter would give Miami a 28-6 lead. Admittedly, that lead felt extremely safe at the time.

As the Bengals came roaring back, I wondered if Fitzpatrick would be able to keep up his level of play. He managed to do so, hanging in there and moving the ball downfield. The offensive line was a big part of that. Fitzpatrick was only sacked twice for a combined loss of 13 yards on the afternoon. It was great to see that unit be able to give him time in the pocket in order to get the job done.

Fitzpatrick put together a vintage performance

Sunday’s game was Ryan Fitzpatrick at his best. Just on the first drive alone, he got several wide receivers involved. Patrick Laird, Allen Hurns, Albert Wilson, and Christian Wilkins all recorded receptions to begin the game.

The reception by Wilkins was interesting to say the least. For those who didn’t see it, Fitzpatrick passed to Wilkins at the one-yard line where Wilkins was tackled. Wilkins fumbled the ball, got up and raced into the end zone to recover the ball for a touchdown. It wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done.

Any way you slice it, Fitzpatrick was able to get everyone involved on Sunday. This was a great game offensively for him. Whether you are pro-tank or anti-tank, there is no doubt that he makes this offense better. It will be interesting to see what he does against New England next Sunday. That defense will certainly present a formidable challenge.

DeVante Parker was missed by the Dolphins against the Jets

Wide receiver DeVante Parker has reached another level in 2019. Miami’s offense felt the void left by the fifth-year receiver after he suffered a concussion early in Sunday’s 22-21 loss to the New York Jets.

The Dolphins lacked a clear target that could push the offense into the end zone. They had drives stall at the 21, 13, 16, and twice at the 19. While kicker Jason Sanders finished the day with seven made field goals on eight attempts, finding the end zone once could’ve been the difference for Miami.

The offense lost traction after losing both DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson to concussions. Parker had only two receptions for 28 yards before exiting the game.

It was also the first time since Oct. 13 that Parker was held beneath 50 yards. 

“It definitely made it a little bit difficult,” quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said postgame about losing both Parker and Wilson. “We had guys out there hobbled and giving everything they had. I was proud to be in the huddle with those guys. I know there’s a lot of stuff people won’t see or don’t really care to write about, but there were some guys that really gutted it out today. It was tough sledding in the second half from communications and lining up for us just because of some of the injuries we had.”

The Dolphins entered action on Sunday as one of the league’s strongest teams inside the red zone. Parker helped Miami score with touchdown grabs of 17 and 43 against the Eagles in week 13.

Keep in mind, DeVante Parker has spent most of the season playing at an elite level. 

Mike Gesicki then caught a touchdown from 14 yards out after the defense turned its attention to Parker. The Dolphins tried to go back to Gesicki after Parker left the game on Sunday, but the second-year tight end finished with just one reception on six targets for just six yards.

Isaiah Ford stepped in and had career highs in both receptions (6) and yards (92). With that in mind, the Dolphins lacked a player with a nose for the end zone.

“He’s a guy that has done a great job of despite not being on the active roster,” offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea said of Ford. “He’s a conceptual learner, so he can line up anywhere and that happened in the game. He basically lined up at several different spots in the game. He did a good job of getting some other guys lined up, helping ‘Fitz’ (Ryan Fitzpatrick) in the huddle.”

The Dolphins are excited to see Ford finding himself a role on the team. However, they’re hoping to get both Parker and Wilson back sooner rather than later. Both were still in concussion protocol as of Wednesday morning.

Coach Flores and players on the Miami Dolphins voice frustration following loss to Jets

In a game that meant little outside of draft position, Miami’s coach Brian Flores was fuming following Sunday’s 22-21 loss to the New York Jets.

Jets kicker Sam Ficken converted a game-winning field goal as time expired, but it was a play leading up to the kick that had Flores irate.

To make matters worst, the pass interference wasn’t called on the field, but was reviewed and reversed.

Flores didn’t want to answer questions about the call when speaking to the media. As we saw during the game, he was quite animated after discovering the no-call was reversed.

“It’s a tough call,” quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “We had guys step up. Pat Laird made some nice plays and Isaiah made some nice plays. Those are the things I try to focus on as the positives for us and the things we did well and maybe some of the things we could have done better. We obviously scratched and clawed our way back into that game and it would have been a nice one to win.”

Jason Sanders converted a franchise-record seven field goals in the loss. However, if Miami had found the end zone at least once, the call would’ve been a non-factor.

I think we’re all disappointed,” Fitzpatrick added. “We’re just disappointed in losing the football game. There’s a lot of emotions that go into that.”

Nik Needham finished with four tackles, two passes defended and was in coverage for the game-changing call.

“Honestly it’s trash,” Needham said of the call. “We lost on a call. It’s trash. I’m not going to lie.”

Despite low expectations, it is clear that the Dolphins were never trying to “tank” the season away.

“Any loss is tough to swallow,” Flores said.  “So, this is no different than any other loss. They’re all tough to swallow. Our guys played hard and I’m proud of the way they work. It’s a tough one.”

 

 

Dolphins

Dolphins displaying true ‘next man up’ mentality

One of the key philosophies of the New England Patriots for the past decade has been their ability to take backup players and make them play like starters. Whoever takes the place of the injured player has to provide the same level of play. Teams in the NFL look for that “next man up” mentality year in and year out. Only some actually manage to find it. However, it seems that the 2019 Miami Dolphins are on their way to putting it all together in that regard.

Observe what Miami has endured this season in the injury department. Even after trading a vast majority of their best players, those who remain on the team still are not contributing due to circumstances beyond their control. They are now all on season-ending injured reserve.

  • CB Xavien Howard – Knee
  • WR Jakeem Grant – Ankle
  • WR Preston Williams – ACL
  • SS Reshad Jones – Chest/Ankle
  • FS Bobby McCain – Shoulder

And the list goes on and on from there. As a result, the Dolphins are being forced to call on players who normally wouldn’t even make an NFL roster to take their place. Yet they make it work. They compete week in and week out in spite of their withering roster.

Unfortunately, it got even harder for Miami on Sunday. Both DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson, two of the Dolphins remaining wide receivers, left the Jets game with possible concussions. That left only Allen Hurns, newcomer Mack Hollins, and the returning Isaiah Ford as their wide receivers for the game. Parker is having a career year, so losing him especially hurt.

“It definitely made it a little bit difficult.” Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said after the game. “We had guys out there hobbled and giving everything they had. I was proud to be in the huddle with those guys. I know there’s a lot of stuff people won’t see or don’t really care to write about, but there were some guys that really gutted it out today. It was tough sledding in the second half from communications and lining up for us just because of some of the injuries we had.”

But again, while it was tough, it wasn’t impossible. Isaiah Ford responded by playing the best game of his career. The young receiver out of Virginia Tech caught six passes for 92 yards against New York. Obviously, he’s unhappy with the loss. But he’s glad he got a chance to show what he’s capable of.

“I’ve had confidence in myself the entire time that I can play at this level.” Ford said. “I know I can go on the field and help our team win.”

Undoubtedly, it’s good to see players like Ford stepping up. But who could predict the Dolphins would even be in this situation by this point?

“Just when you thought this season couldn’t get any crazier.” Fitzpatrick said. “Isaiah has been on the active (roster) and off, on the practice squad and up and down. He’s worked so hard. He’s a guy we have so much faith in as quarterbacks because whenever anybody has a question, sometimes when coaches have questions, we’ll go back to Isaiah and say, ‘What is this signal? What is this route?’ and he knows everything. I was happy to see him get out there and get an opportunity to catch some balls and really take advantage of it and make the most out of it today.”

In spite of that, Brian Flores admitted that it isn’t easy to compensate for the loss of top players like that.

“It complicates things a lot.” He said. “Obviously, when you go into a game with a specific game plan with guys in mind. When you lose one player at any position, you have a backup for that. When you lose two, that’s when it’s tough … Again, Isaiah Ford stepped in and played well. Mack Hollins who we just got a couple days ago, he stepped in and gave us some good snaps, drew a pass interference penalty. And then our tight end group, they really stepped up for us. So, I thought as a collective group, given the adversity of losing two guys, I thought we battled through it.”

Once again, coaching deserves credit for adapting and helping players shine in bad circumstances. Flores will have a lot of roster turnover come next season, with talent coming from free agency and the draft. But here and now, he has to work with what he has. What he has is not good. However, that’s what “next man up” is all about. The Dolphins are taking players who have far less talent, and bringing it to the wire every game. That alone is a sign of things to come.

Luis Sung has covered the Miami Dolphins for numerous outlets such as Dolphins Wire for six years. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung

Ryan Fitzpatrick’s bomb to DeVante Parker was the longest pass of Week 13

In a season of lows, Ryan Fitzpatrick has provided some excitement for Dolphins fans. Miami has won three of its last five games and Fitzpatrick is a crucial part of the recent run.

Sunday’s 37-31 win over Philadelphia was no different. Fitzpatrick finished the afternoon with three touchdowns and 365 yards. His favorite target on the day was DeVante Parker, who caught seven receptions for 159 yards and two touchdowns.

Fitzpatrick showcased his big arm on a third and 13 from Miami’s 40-yard line that went 52.4 yards through the air and ended in Parker’s arms for a long completion.

Parker and Fitzpatrick have developed quite the rapport. Parker already has career highs in yards and touchdowns. He also caught touchdowns in three-straight games earlier in the season. Keep in mind, there are still four games remaining in the 2019 season.

Fitzpatrick’s big performance was noticed by the league as he was nominated for the FedEx Air & Ground player of the week award.

Madden also added a little Fitzmagic to the popular video game with a new Fitzpatrick card available in the Ultimate Team game mode.

It is also worth noting that Ryan Tannehill, the former quarterback with the Dolphins, was responsible for one of the week’s longest passes. Tannehill has been impressive with the Titans since taking over as the team’s starting quarterback. He has thrown 12 touchdowns to just four interceptions with a quarterback rating of 113.9.

The Titans are currently 7-5 and riding a three-game winning streak. They’re currently one game behind Houston and will play them twice over the seasons final four games.

Miami will look to end the season on a good note. They’ll head to New York on Sunday to face Adam Gase and the Jets. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.

Fitzpatrick, Parker, Gesicki tank-proof as Dolphins stun Eagles

This seemed like the Dolphins’ ideal afternoon until the 2019 season mercifully ends.

Play hard. Play smart. Play close. Lose, while others among the NFL’s lowliest win — in this case, the Bengals and the Redskins.

Except for one thing.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki and Brian Flores didn’t oblige.

All four were outstanding in Miami’s come-from-behind 37-31 win against the sagging Philadelphia Eagles, part of the NFL’s worst division. The Dolphins, yes, the Dolphins, simply couldn’t stop scoring, with 23 unanswered in the second half. Without a running game, at least until tank commander Kallen Ballage left for Patrick Laird due to a leg injury, Fitzpatrick was nearly perfect in the second half, finishing 27 of 39 for  365 yards. Parker and Gesicki combined for 238 of those yards, manhandling their matchups, frequently high-pointing the ball, with Fitzpatrick completing 12 of 17 to them.

And the undrafted Laird, who should have been playing more the past few weeks, showed wiggle on the drive that put the Dolphins ahead late. They did this is front of a crowd that was roughly 70 percent Eagles fans, serenading them with “Fly Eagles Fly.”

And they did it with Flores flair, with the first year head coach taking every conceivable chance, a welcome change from most of his predecessors.

A deep completion to Parker for a touchdown on fourth down, and another fourth down conversion to Parker on the clinching drive.

One of the most creative trick plays you’ll ever see, as punter Matt Haack flipped to kicker Jason Sanders for a touchdown.

And so, now with the Jets, Giants and Bengals remaining on the schedule, the Dolphins could be headed for 6-10.

Think about that? 6-10! After the way this season started.

Maybe Tua will be available at No. 8.

Here’s the best from the account of our Josh @Houtz, serial videographer and Laird fanatic…..

 

Dolphins back to losing ways, fall to Bills

The fear was real.

After Dolphins wins against the Jets and Colts, and a near-disastrous near-victory against the Redskins, there was concern among many fans that Brian Flores’ team was improving too fast — and might further fall in the draft order. This remained a concern even with the traumatic injury suffered by the Dolphins’ perceived top target, Tua Taglavailoa of Alabama. After all, Miami needs everything, and needs as much draft capital as possible to get it.

Well, no more worries.

The Dolphins remain rather limited.

So their draft options should remain rather expansive.

This was proven Sunday during a 37-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills, marking the second time this season the Dolphins have yielded at least 30 points to one of the league’s worst offenses. This wasn’t altogether unexpected, with recent top defensive performers Raekwon McMillan and Taco Charlton out, joining Xavien Howard, Reshad Jones and others on the inactive list. And offensively? Well, with Kenyan Drake traded, Mark Walton suspended and Preston Williams out for the season, the skill spots have been thinned considerably, so much so that Kallen Ballage and his svelte yards-per-carry average (it looks like a failing GPA) was being relied upon as a primary playmaker.

Miami had moments, notably Jakeem Grant’s 101-yard blazing kickoff return (followed by another for 50 yards) Jason Sanders’ adroitly executed onside kick and Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 45-yard completion to DeVante Parker, but overall, the Bills (7-3) are playing for this season, and the Dolphins are playing because the schedule says they have to. Most Dolphins fans couldn’t identify more than three or four players on the current defense. The Bills’ John Brown, from Homestead High School in South Florida, took advantage, with 9 catches for 137 yards.

And any unlikely comeback by the Dolphins ended when Fitzpatrick was stuffed on 4th-and-1 deep in Buffalo territory.

Next week — at Cleveland, where previous tank efforts haven’t turned out so well so far.

Here are the Dolphins’ major highlights from the loss:

Photos by Tony Capobianco.

Do you believe in FitzMagic?

FitzMagic Believes he’s the ‘Perfect Man’ to Help Lead Young Dolphins Through Rebuild

When Ryan Fitzpatrick joined the Dolphins earlier this year, he was just thankful for an opportunity to start.  And although it hasn’t been all sunshine and roses, the 36-year old QB continues to show the world why he was given the nickname #FitzMagic.

Last week, Fitzpatrick was brought in late in the third quarter to try and spark Miami’s offense-and that’s exactly what he did.  His impressive performance earned him the starting QB spot for Miami’s Week 7 match-up vs Buffalo.  And the man known as #FitzMagic, didn’t disappoint.

Fitzpatrick looked sharp on Sunday, completing 21/31 for 282 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception.  It wasn’t a perfect game but the offense looked light years ahead of what we’ve become accustomed to throughout the first five games of the season.

That’s what he said

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to get the win.  But Brian Flores liked what he saw from Fitzpatrick so much, that he named him the team’s starting QB for Monday Night’s game vs the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I thought he played well. I thought he moved the ball well offensively. I thought he made some good throws. I thought he got out of some trouble. They got a good pass rush, he got out of trouble a couple times and made some plays for us. We got to continue to build and get better, and finish a game. We gotta finish the game.”

When asked if Fitzpatrick did enough to warrant the start Monday at Pittsburgh, Flores kept things short and sweet.

“I mean, yeah, he played well. So, yes, he did.”

The Dolphins will take on the 2-4 Pittsburgh Steelers in Northwest Pennsylvania next Monday Night.  And if there was ever a game the Dolphins should be invested in winning, it’s this one.  After all, the Steelers traded their first-round pick to the Dolphins in exchange for DB Minkah Fitzpatrick.  The more games Pittsburgh loses, the better the draft pick.

So is it possible for the win-less Dolphins to overcome all odds and defeat the superior Steelers’ on prime time? Ryan Fitzpatrick was asked what he could do to help turn an 0-6 team around, much like he did a previous 0-8 team.

“Well, and I said this at the beginning, I think I’m the perfect man for the job, because I’ve been through it, I have zero ego, and all I want to do is go out there and win. I want to bring an energy. I want what I’m doing out there to be infectious to other guys. We have a lot of young guys that haven’t really played much at this level, and we have some guys that are a year or two into it. But I want to be that ‘stable guy’ that they can look to when things get a little shaky, and I’ve been in this situation a lot before. It’s something that I embrace. I’ve had a different career than a lot of different quarterbacks, but this has been a career that I’ve loved and a position that I like being in.”

In #FitzMagic We Trust

Josh Houtz (@houtz) is a die-hard fan of the Miami Dolphins, and believes in #FitzMagi