QB Stories: Manning, Fitz and Tua

New comments on the Dolphins' QB switch of 2020 and how close Peyton Manning was to coming to Miami
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With all the focus among Miami Dolphins fans these days is on Tua Tagovailoa and his development in his second season in the NFL, there are some interesting comments making the rounds regarding other quarterbacks and the organization.

They feature coaches Jimmy Johnson and Chan Gailey talking about Ryan Fitzpatrick and Peyton Manning.

We'll start with Gailey, who has made his first public comments since resigning as Dolphins offensive coordinator last January — one day after head coach Brian Flores said he expected all his assistants to return.

Gailey's comments appeared in a profile of Ryan Fitzpatrick in The Athletic, and focused on the Dolphins switching from Fitzpatrick to Tagovailoa as their starter last October heading into their bye despite the team coming off back-to-back 43-17 and 24-0 victories against the 49ers and Jets, respectively.

“I was in total shock,” Gailey was quoted as saying. “We didn’t even have a preseason. It was a totally new offense (for Tua). We were just starting to hit our stride. We’d won two in a row and scored a bunch of points and moved the ball well. It came as a shock to me.”

That the move also came as a shock to Fitzpatrick was evident from the start, judging by his emotional Zoom media session after the move became public.

“I have a ton of respect for (Flores), and we have a very good relationship,” Fitzpatrick told The Athletic. “But I thought it was a joke at first. We’re putting Tua in? I was floored. ... That was my team. ... I fought through the (s---) with those guys. I get the way that the NFL works. I get it. But to have it happen the way it did …”

Co-offensive coordinator George Godsey and Gailey told The Athletic the decision to bench Tua in favor of Fitzpatrick late in the games at Denver and Las Vegas was made because of Fitzpatrick's superior knowledge in the Dolphins' two-minute offense.


Then there were the comments from Johnson on The Dan Le Batard Show, where he suggested he could have moved up to get Peyton Manning in the 1998 NFL draft, though it would have cost him all of Miami's draft picks that year.

"It would have taken my entire draft board, but I could have made a trade to move up to get Peyton Manning, " Johnson said on the show, per CBSSports.com. "In fact, I talked to Peyton and Archie about it this weekend (at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. … That's all the details I can give you. I probably gave you too much already." 

The idea, of course, is that Manning would have sat behind Dan Marino until the Dolphins Hall of Famer finished his career.

Instead, the Colts took Manning and the rest is history.

For the record, the Dolphins' 1998 draft class ended up consisting of RB John Avery, CB Patrick Surtain, DE Kenny Mixon, LB Brad Jackson, WR Larry Shannon, DT Lorenzo Bromell, G Scott Shaw, C Nathan Strikwerda, QB John Dutton and G Jim Bundren.

Surtain was selected with a second-round pick the Dolphins acquired for a 2000 first-round selection two days before the 1998 draft, so we can assume that pick also would have had to be included.

As it turned out, the Dolphins' 10 draft picks of 1998 ended up combining for 455 NFL regular season games and three Pro Bowl invitations — all for Surtain. Manning played 266 games in 17 NFL seasons, made the Pro Bowl 13 times, and won two Super Bowl titles — with the Colts in the 2006 season and with the Broncos in the 2015 season.

It says here that if the story indeed is true that Johnson COULD HAVE traded all his 1998 draft picks to get Manning, then history has demonstrated he most definitely should have done it.

And in a final interesting twist, it was just a year later (1999) that Mike Ditka DID trade all his draft picks for one player — in that case Ricky Williams, who would go on to play four seasons for Ditka's Saints before arriving to Miami via trade in March of 2002.