That rumbling you hear? The trembling of the Earth beneath your feet? That, my friends, is the collective Miami Dolphins conglomerate swelling with panic over the signing of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
THE HORROR, MY LORD.
Really? We really want to do this right now? Notable sub-sections of the Dolphins faithful are clutching their pearls, wringing their hands and wiping their brow at the prospect of Ryan Fitzpatrick ruining the entire Dolphins re-build. The problem? He's apparently going to put the Miami Dolphins on his back, win six or seven games and cost Miami their only chance of ever turning around the team because they'll be unable to draft Tua Tagovailoa in 2020.
There's a whole lot to unpack here. Let's start with the obvious.
His name is Ryan Fitzpatrick
Read: He's not a good starting quarterback! Yes, Fitzpatrick lit the world aflame through the first three weeks of the season last year. But the man was also throwing to Mike Evans, O.J. Howard and Desean Jackson. The Bucs started 2-0 and then went 0-5 with Fitzpatrick generally playing terrible before losing the starting job to Jameis Winston.
My friends in Miami, please. Regard me.
Kenny Stills, Dwayne Allen and Jakeem Grant are not anywhere near the same stratosphere as the players Fitzmagic was working with in Tampa Bay. Don't get me wrong: Stills is one of the more underrated receivers in football, as far as I'm concerned. The guy has been playing in offenses allergic to forward passes.
But no one is confusing Miami's weapons for those in Tampa Bay. And furthermore, there's a pretty realistic chance that the Dolphins will be featuring four new starting offensive linemen in 2019. Josh Sitton (who started one game) and Ja'Wuan James are already gone. Daniel Kilgore and Jesse Davis are holdovers but do they even fit the mold that a new coaching staff will desire?
In short: you've got a fast but lesser talented group than Fitzpatrick had in Tampa Bay and the potential for one of the worst offensive lines in football (2019 Draft picks withstanding). Sure, seems like a great environment for a quarterback to step in and bring out the best of his teammates. Especially one with a 0.394 winning percentage as a starter over 126 career starts.
And it DEFINITELY (wink, wink) sounds like the kind of offense that will produce at a high enough level to win six to eight games! (No it doesn't.)
"Okay Kyle, but what if Fitzmagic gets hot for 3 games and we win them all and win one or two more along the way and finish 4-12 or 5-11? We'll still be out of range for drafting Tua!"
Don't put the cart before the horse.
There's more than one quarterback to go around
Yeah, Tua was great last year. And he's really promising as a potential future pro. But Tua also has a long way to go before he's ready for the show. He'll have to play another full season at Alabama: what if he gets hurt? What if he ultimately decides to go back to Alabama again in shocking fashion, the way Justin Herbert shocked us all and passed on being QB1 in 2019?
You simply can't justify throwing an entire season down the drain for a player who may or may not end up being who you want him to be. And while Tua's play overall was sublime last season, did y'all miss him get rattled by LSU and Georgia and wrecked by Clemson or nah?
Tua isn't the perfect quarterback. He's obviously gifted but to wring your hands over the prospect of winning four games and still missing out on him is silly.
What about Oregon's Justin Herbert, who will definitely be in next year's class as a senior. What about Clemson's Trevor Lawrence in 2021? What about Jordan Love (Utah State), Jake Fromm (Georgia) and Justin Fields (Ohio State)? ...Do you get the point? There's quarterbacks in play not named Tua and some of them will develop into top prospects. Others will not. To try to assume there's one, and only one, answer to the riddle is...short-sighted. To say the least.
"Okay Kyle, but what if the Dolphins really do want Tua? Drafting at 5 won't get the job done because the Giants or Bengals will need a quarterback!"
Okay, sure. Let's talk about the dynamics of 2020.
Who needs a quarterback?
Who needs a quarterback in 2020? Dolphins fans are concerned with competition from the Giants and the Bengals for the top spot and that would (presumably) equate to losing Tua. Aren't y'all forgetting something? Say like...the 2019 NFL Draft and it's quarterbacks?
Let's look across the entire NFL landscape and talk about the teams who will be A.) in need of a quarterback presumably by 2020 and B.) in a position to pick that high:
New England (Yes, they need a QB. No they won't be picking high), Miami (Yes), New York Jets (No - Sam Darnold) and Buffalo (No - Josh Allen)
Cleveland (No - Baker Mayfield), Pittsburgh (Probably yes and maybe high), Baltimore (No - Lamar Jackson) and Cincinnati (Yes and yes)
Houston (No - Deshaun Watson), Tennessee (Maybe and maybe), Jacksonville (No - Nick Foles) and Indianapolis (No - Andrew Luck)
Denver (Yes, sorry Joe Flacco and probably), Kansas City (LOL - Patrick Mahomes), Los Angeles (Yes but probably not picking high) and Oakland (Who the hell knows - Derek Carr?)
Philadelphia (No - Carson Wentz), Dallas (No - Dak Prescott), Washington (Probably - Alex Smith) and New York Giants (Yes and yes)
Green Bay (Probably not - Aaron Rodgers), Detroit Lions (No - Matthew Stafford), Chicago Bears (No - Mitchell Trubisky) and Minnesota (No - Kirk Cousins)
Carolina (Probably no - Cam Newton), New Orleans (Apparently not - Drew Brees/Teddy Bridgewater), Atlanta (No - Matt Ryan) and Tampa Bay (Doubtful - Jameis Winston)
Los Angeles (No - Jared Goff...sorry, haters), San Francisco (No - Jimmy G), Seattle (No - Russell Wilson) and Arizona (Who the hell knows - Josh Rosen?)
In summary, the following teams have reasonable potential to be picking quarterbacks AND pick high in 2020.
Miami, New York (Giants), Oakland, Cincinnati, Washington and like...maybe Arizona. I'll include Arizona to make this point: There are potentially four first round quarterbacks in this year's 2019 NFL Draft.
Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
Drew Lock, Missouri
Daniel Jones, Duke
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that Arizona trades the number one pick to Oakland. Then Arizona is committed to Josh Rosen and the Raiders can make the splash some feel they want to by drafting Kyler Murray. That pushes Derek Carr into the pool of available quarterbacks. But who else takes a quarterback in the top ten this year? Denver and Drew Lock? Maybe. Jacksonville is seemingly out after the contract they gave Nick Foles. What is to stop Cincinnati and New York (who has two top-20 picks, by the way) from drafting Dwayne Haskins and Daniel Jones?
Suddenly, with a blink of an eye, you'll have crossed two or three of the four to five biggest contenders the Dolphins will have for 2020 quarterbacks. The current state of affairs with young quarterbacks in the pros lends itself favorably to Miami's cause.
Shoot, what if Miami decides a slipping Drew Lock or Dwayne Haskins is the answer?
"But what if these quarterbacks all go to teams like Pittsburgh and the Chargers? The QB market will still be volatile! If the Dolphins win 5 games they're sitting ducks to get locked out of 2020."
History is on Miami's side
You know how many times, in the history of the NFL, we have seen quarterbacks go back to back at first and second overall? Seven, since 1967. Here's your history lesson of the day.
1971 - Jim Plunkett and Archie Manning
1993 - Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer
1998 - Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf
1999 - Tim Couch and Donovan McNabb
2012 - Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III
2015 - Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota
2016 - Jared Goff and Carson Wentz
So, with that in mind, what are the odds that Miami, a team that's going to stink, is going to be out-done by two, and only two, teams that just so happen to miss the 2019 quarterback wave and manage to claim the first and second overall slots?
Teams get quarterbacks hurt (San Francisco). It happens all the time. And if a team with an established quarterback in place claims a top spot? Have the extra draft picks ready...it's why I expect Miami to move back unless there's a quarterback they love next month. The Dolphins already have two 3s (Ja'Wuan James comp pick), two 4s (Ryan Tannehill trade) and two 5s (Cam Wake comp pick) lined up. Imagine them trading back from 13 to the late 20s? That's at least an extra first next year.
There's been quite a push in recent history to see teams trade up for quarterbacks. As a matter of fact, it's the new normal. Here are first round quarterbacks in the last three years we've seen teams trade up for: Jared Goff (2016 - 1st), Carson Wentz (2016 - 2nd), Paxton Lynch (2016 - 26th), Mitch Trubisky (2017 - 2nd), Patrick Mahomes (2017 - 10th), Deshaun Watson (2017 - 12th), Sam Darnold (2018 - 3rd), Josh Allen (2018 - 7th), Josh Rosen (2018 - 10th) and Lamar Jackson (2018 - 32nd).
There sure are a lot of successful young quarterbacks on this list. And oddly enough, only one of them went first overall. It's almost like you don't absolutely positively have to have the first pick to draft a franchise quarterback because the odds of every quarterback hungry team aligning in front of you in the draft order is incredibly slim. Almost.
R - E - L - A - X
It is March of 2019. Pitching a fit about a below average starting quarterback signing up to play on a bad team in 2019 because of he "might" win you out of contention for a 2020 quarterback, despite only a handful of teams in the pros being in a position to be bad and need a quarterback in 2020...and there being 3-4 potential first round quarterbacks available in next month's draft anyway (and four of the Dolphins' five main competitors picking in front of Miami anyway) should be so far down on the priority list that it's nothing more than a bump in the night.
So chin up, Miami. Even if Ryan Fitzpatrick does the unthinkable and quarterbacks you to 6-10 next season, it is going to be okay. I promise. The front office will make the move necessary to acquire their guy when he's available. Be that 2019, 2020 or 2021. Just don't assume it has to be Tua Tagovailoa or bust. He doesn't have to be, even if he'd look great in a Dolphins uniform (that isn't #13).