It appears a bromance is forming between Ryan Fitzpatrick and his new protege, rookie Tua Tagovailoa.
Ryan Fitzpatrick’s contract doesn’t say he has to get Tua Tagovailoa ready to play.
Luckily for the Dolphins, Fitzpatrick’s conscious does.
And, for that matter, it doesn’t hurt that Fitzpatrick is finding Tagovailoa to be impossible to dislike.
Fitzpatrick said so Saturday during a Zoom conference with Dolphins beat reporters, outlining a burgeoning relationship between the two quarterbacks that’s nothing like the frosty vibes Aaron Rodgers felt as a rookie on the Packers when Favre growled his famous quote about what is not in his contract.
In contrast, when Fitzpatrick, 37, was asked about The Kid (Tagovailoa is only 22), his detailed response could have been scripted by Brian Flores, a coach who appreciates selflessness more than almost anything. Fitzpatrick went so far as to say he was “excited” when the Dolphins spent the No. 5 overall draft pick on a guy who’s going to take his job someday.
Before getting too caught up in this bromance, let’s remember that only one quarterback plays at a time, and there are two men relishing that singular role.
“I’m going to go out there competing every single day as I know the younger guys are,” said Fitzpatrick, the incumbent and reigning team MVP.
At the same time, Fitzpatrick is more frank than most veterans would be in his position.
“I don’t know how much time it will be before Tua will be in the lineup,” he said. “I know that I am the placeholder. We’ve already had that conversation. I’ve told him, ‘I’m going to do the best I can to lead this team and win football games when I’m out there.’ ”
“Whenever it is that Tua gets his chance, whether it’s early or late or whenever, I’m going to be his biggest cheerleader.”
Flores has said he considers this an open competition, one that Tagovailoa enters with clearance to undertake all football activities following last year’s hip surgery. The Dolphins are as much behind the eight-ball as any team, trying to incorporate a total of 22 draftees and free-agent additions without the benefit of OTAs and preseason games. This is where the experience of veteran entering Season No. 16 — aka The Bearded Wonder — comes in to help Tagovailoa.
“I’m not going to keep anything to myself too,” said Fitzpatrick, who has the advantage of having played in new coordinator Chan Gailey’s system with the Bills and Jets a handful of years. “I’m going to make somebody tell me to shut up. I’m going to talk as much as I can and share as much as I can with the intimate knowledge I have of this offseason — being in it (the system) in five years and experience since I’ve been in the league.”
If anyone does hush Fitzpatrick, it’s not going to be Tagovailoa, who arrives with a reputation of being popular with Alabama teammates. Fitzpatrick loves how the two are hitting if off in these early stages “even though I’m an old geezer to him.”
Gushed the geezer: “You can even just tell the guys are going to gravitate to him. There's just something about him that is very likable and I can already tell that he's going to be one of those guys that gets along with everybody, that guys are going to want to follow. He just has that kind of aura about him. Part of it is probably the way that he played in college and just kind of the name and the reputation that he's built for himself. But there's not a whole lot of ego involved and he's very likable. The general conversations, whether about football or life, it's been really fun so far.”
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