Dolphins History Lesson: The First Game After an In-Season QB Change

Alain Poupart

The game-week interviews are now done. The fanfare is about to subside (ever so slightly).

The moment is almost at hand.

We're about to see what Miami Dolphins rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa can do in his first NFL start, which will come against the Los Angeles Rams at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday.

Tagovailoa has replaced veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick as the Dolphins quarterback after Fitzpatrick started the first six games, led the team to a 3-3 record and was on pace to set a franchise single-season record for completion percentage with his 70.1 figure.

As we indicated earlier, this is the seventh time in franchise history the Dolphins have replaced their opening-day starting quarterback for non-injury reasons and only once has the team gone with the replacement the rest of the way.

RELATED: Dolphins History Lesson on Opening-Day Starting QBs Getting Benched

That, of course, happened in 1983 with a first-round pick by the name of Dan Marino.

It helped that Marino thrived right away, with a simply brilliant performance in his first start. That obviously is the precedent the Dolphins and their fans hope the 2020 situation copies.

The other five times, it didn't work out so well for the Dolphins or their new starter as we revisit.

1966 — Rick Norton replaced Dick Wood after the very first game in franchise history, but didn't fare much better and was benched during the game after going 8-for-20 for 97 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Norton would start one more game before it was his turn to losing the starting job.

1980 — Don Strock replaced an ineffective Bob Griese for the third game of the '80 season, but struggled against the Atlanta Falcons (10-for-21 for 75 yards) before Griese came off the bench to help the Dolphins win. The next week, it was rookie David Woodley who started, but he also struggled and Griese rallied Miami for a win at New Orleans to regain the starting job. But in Week 5, Griese sustained a shoulder injury against the Baltimore Colts that would end his career.

1983 — Marino started against Buffalo in Week 6 after replacing Woodley and completed 19 of 29 passes for 322 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Even though the Dolphins lost 38-35 in overtime, head coach Don Shula knew he had himself a keeper at quarterback.

2004 — A.J. Feeley replaced Jay Fiedler at halftime of the opener after losing the training competition and got the chance to start in Week 2 against Cincinnati. But Feely was ineffective, completing 21 of 39 passes for 218 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in a 16-13 loss. Feeley got one more start (a 13-3 loss against Pittsburgh) before the Dolphins went back to Fiedler. Feeley got to start five more games later in the season when Fiedler was injured.

2010 — After Chad Pennington's 2009 season ended with a shoulder injury in the third game, the Dolphins made Chad Henne the starter for the 2010 season. But when Henne struggled, the Dolphins turned to Pennington in their ninth game. Unfortunately, Pennington's season (and career) ended after he attempted only two passes when he sustained another shoulder injury against the Tennessee Titans.

2019 — Just last year, the Dolphins replaced Fitzpatrick with Josh Rosen for their third game after they had spent second- and fifth-round picks to get Rosen in a trade. Rosen, however, didn't capitalize on his starting opportunity. Rosen was 18-of-39 for 200 with no touchdowns or interceptions in a 31-6 against Dallas, and Fitzpatrick was back in the starting lineup for the sixth game against Buffalo.

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