Fitzpatrick Fodder and Why He Shouldn't Be Counted Out

Alain Poupart

So that famous Chris Simms top 40 ranking of NFL quarterbacks continues, and Dolphins veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick has landed at number 28.

That's 12 spots ahead of where first-round pick Tua Tagovailoa ended up, because the left from Alabama was dead last among Simms' 40 quarterbacks.

This is what Simms said about Fitzpatrick, who will be going into his 16th NFL season in 2020: “You want to talk about gutty, gritty, career-journeyman…When he is hot, he is awesome to watch…He is a very hot-and-cold type quarterback… I think that is what I will always remember Ryan Fitzpatrick as… I wouldn’t be shocked if he has another solid year this year. Maybe (he) gets replaced during the season at some point by Tua, but I just wouldn’t be shocked if he is in a similar situation next year with another team if he continues to do this…I don’t think Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to give up that job easily, that is for sure.”

Well, Fitzpatrick said as much about not giving up his job easily when he did a podcast with his former Buffalo Bills teammate Eric Wood and later when he did a video conference call with Dolphins reporters.

Immediately ahead of Fitzpatrick in Simms' rankings were Andy Dalton now of the Dallas Cowboys, 2020 first overall pick Joe Burrow, Broncos second-year player Drew Lock, Jared Goff and Sam Darnold.

Right away, we'll tell you it's absurd to have Dalton ahead of Fitzpatrick at this point. Just look at last season when Fitzpatrick was Dolphins MVP and posted an 85.5 passer rating, while Dalton had a 78.3 rating with a much better supporting cast.

Here's another good stat to illustrate just how effective Fitzpatrick was last year in making the best of a bad situation: The Buffalo Bills allowed 20 points or more only five times in their 16 regular season games. The Dolphins had two of those games, both with Fitzpatrick as the starter.

Also keep in mind that Fitzpatrick was coming off a 2018 season when his passer rating was a career-high 100.4.

So could it be possible that maybe, just maybe, Fitzpatrick is one of those late bloomers who has a pedestrian career for several years before coming on strong in his 30s.

You know who else had that kind of career? Rich Gannon, who made the Pro Bowl for the first time at age 34 and was league MVP at 37.

This isn't to suggest that Fitzpatrick is on his way to league MVP honors, just that maybe he deserves a little more respect than he's gotten and that maybe it's not such a slam dunk that Tua will unseat him as starting quarterback right from the start.

Don't buy this idea of Fitzpatrick as being underappreciated?

He was the choice for the Dolphins when NFL Network Analytics Experts Cynthia Frelund selected one player for each AFC team as being underappreciated.

"Usually, I talk about how well a defensive player fares when he enters the 5-foot halo around a quarterback who is attempting to pass, but in the case of Fitzpatrick, he was able to overcome this pressure and help earn first downs and touchdowns at the fifth-highest rate in the league," Frelund said. "Factoring in that none of his surrounding skill players ranked better than 25th in win share by position, and this is even more impressive. Furthermore, even if Fitz hits the bench, the value of a backup QB with his proven skill set and level of experience is even more impactful in a season with a lot of preseason prep questions."

In his second season with the Dolphins, Fitzpatrick will have the advantage of being reunited with offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, under whom he had some of his best NFL seasons.

The bottom line here is: Don't count Fitzpatrick out just yet.

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