Brian Flores on helping the Miami Dolphins win: ‘There’s definitely bumps in the road’
The Dolphins have found their bridge quarterback.
Ryan Fitzpatrick agreed to to a two-year contract with the Dolphins on Sunday, giving Miami a veteran starter to hold the job while it waits to land its quarterback of the future in the 2019 or perhaps more likely, the 2020 NFL drafts.
The deal is worth at least $11 million over two seasons, and ESPN reports it can be worth as much as $17 million to $20 million depending on incentives.
Fitzpatrick, 36, has appeared in 141 NFL games and started 126 of them. He has a career record of 50-75-1 and a career passer rating of 81.1.
Fitzpatrick has started at least 10 games in seven seasons and his team had a winning record in just one of those seasons (going 10-6 in 2015 with the Jets), a .500 record in one season and a losing record in the five others.
His career has been marked by dramatics peaks and valleys in play. At times, particularly in short stretches, he has been excellent. But more often, he has been mediocre and turnover prone.
Last season, he began the season as Tampa Bay’s starter, filling in for the suspended Jameis Winston, and played very well initially before struggling.
He had four 400-yard passing games last season (equaling Dan Marino’s and Peyton Manning’s NFL record for a season) but had a 2-5 record in seven starts, with 17 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and 1766 yards passing while completing 66.7 percent of his passes.
With the help of big-play receivers DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans, he had a career-best 100.4 passer rating last season - which was ninth among all quarterbacks who appeared in at least eight games.
He also ran for 152 yards and seven touchdowns.
He also has played for St. Louis, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Tennessee, Houston and the Jets. So this will be the third AFC East team he likely will start for.
Fitzpatrick has earned a reputation as a good leader and teammate. So that could be an asset in helping develop a young quarterback.
“He’s a consummate pro,” Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Todd Monken said last season. “His capacity to get us in the right things and yet take it to another level. He’s been really, really accurate. He’s very confident in what he’s capable of doing.”
Fitzpatrick joins Luke Falk and Jake Rudock as the only quarterbacks under contract with the Dolphins. Miami also is expected to add a quarterback in the draft process - during or after.
Miami traded Ryan Tannehill to Tennessee on Friday, and Brock Osweiler and David Fales are unrestricted free agents.
Fitzpatrick was the Bills starter from 2010 through 2012 and Buffalo finished 4-9, 6-10 and 6-10 those seasons, with Fitzpatrick throwing 71 touchdown passes and 51 interceptions in those seasons.
He was Houston’s starter for 12 games in 2014 and the Texans finished 6-6, with Fitzpatrick throwing 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
He was the Jets starter for 2015 and much of 2016, with the Jets going 10-6 the first season and 3-8 the next.
He was exceptional in that 2015 season, throwing 31 touchdowns and 15 interceptions and 3905 yards. But he tailed off in 2016, throwing 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions and was eventually replaced by Bryce Petty for the final four games of the season.
He moved on to Tampa Bay during that offseason and went 2-1 as a fill-in starter in 2017, with seven touchdowns and three interceptions.
Last season, he initially kept the job after Winston’s suspension ended but quickly lost it.
And last season provided the quintessential example of how Fitzpatrick can be really hot or really bad:
During a Week 3 Monday night game against Pittsburgh, Fitzpatrick finished with 411 passing yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions as the Buccaneers lost 30-27. He became the first player in NFL history to have three consecutive games with at least 400 passing yards.
But the next week against Chicago, he had 126 yards passing and an interception in a 48-10 loss to Chicago and lost his job to Winston.
He regained the job in Week 10, throwing 400 yards in a 16-3 loss against Washington, but was benched in the second half of a Week 11 game against the Giants.
“The guy’s played good football; he’s done this before,” Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter said last season in initially sticking with Fitzpatrick over Winston.
Fumbles have been a problem at times in his career. He had four of them last season, 11 in 2008 and 72 in his career. Those 72 fumbles are eighth most among active quarterbacks.
St. Louis selected Fitzpatrick in the seventh round, with the 250th overall pick, in the 2005 draft.
He has thrown 190 touchdown passes, 148 interceptions and thrown for 29,347 yards in his career while completing 60.1 percent of his passes. He has been Player of the Week seven times in his career but never made a Pro Bowl
Where he ranks in several statistical categories:
▪ That passing yardage total ranks 50th all time and 11th among active quarterbacks.
▪ His 190 touchdown passes are 53rd all time and 12th among active quarterbacks.
▪ His 148 interceptions are 61st most all time and sixth most among active quarterbacks.
▪ His 2575 completions rank 43rd all time and 11th among active quarterbacks.
▪ His 81.1 career passer rating is 63rd all time and 24th among active quarterbacks.
▪ He’s been sacked 245 times, which is 14th among active quarterbacks and 79th all time.
▪ His 208.2 passing yards per game rank 22nd among active quarterbacks and 46th all time.
“He does a really nice job in terms of his ball placement,” Monken said.