If Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t the Miami Dolphins’ starting quarterback this year, maybe he has a future as their starting fullback.
After starting the Dolphins’ first preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons on Aug. 8, Fitzpatrick came off the bench behind Josh Rosen in a 16-14 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday, starting the second half at Raymond James Stadium and delivering one of the game’s biggest highlights with his shoulder.
On the second play of the fourth quarter in Tampa, Fitzpatrick scrambled out of trouble and dashed to the left sideline with the ball tucked in his left hand. Instead of stepping out of bounds, the quarterback dropped his right shoulder and threw his weight into safety Darian Stewart. The safety fell flat on his stomach. Fitzpatrick picked up another couple yards before going out of bounds into the Buccaneers’ bench. The Tampa Bay sideline cracked up.
Ryan Fitzpatrick's preseason to date:
Wk 1: 2/5, 20 yds, 4.0 YPA, 52 rtg
Wk 2: 3/9, 20 yds, 2.2 YPA, 42 rtg*
* against the 3rd & 4th string TB pass DEF
If you can’t pass, might as well truck safeties pic.twitter.com/qSrxesdwfB
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) August 17, 2019
“Their sideline was laughing because they know me and my style of play,” Fitzpatrick said, “so they were giving me a hard time over there, just some back and forth.”
Said wide receiver Preston Williams: “I was went to him when he came to the sideline, I was like, ‘You want to be a running back or something.’”
The truck-stick highlight quickly became a hit on social media, too. A 36-year-old, fighting for a starting job in the NFL, literally put his body on the line for a play that ultimately didn’t even count — Miami was called for holding on the play, bringing the ball back after what would have been a 15-yard gain.
“I like to do that sometimes,” Fitzpatrick said, “so I just felt like I needed to get one in there.”
Fitzpatrick, whom coach Brian Flores said will probably start the Dolphins’ third preseason game Thursday against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Hard Rock Stadium, finished the game just 3 of 8 with 20 yards, plus another 2-yard rush. He does, however, bring a obvious intangible factor beyond his veteran leadership.
At every stop he has made, Fitzpatrick has fashioned himself as a fan favorite because of plays like the one he made Friday against his former team.
Sports Pass for $30 per year
Get unlimited access to all Miami Herald sports stories and videos for $30
“It’s not the first time we’ve seen him do that and he’s as tough as they come,” Flores said. “You kind of cringe a little bit. You don’t want to see your quarterback doing that, but that’s part of his game. I talk to these guys about playing loose, playing fast, cutting loose and they did that.
“You should have seen the sideline light up. I’m not encouraging that, but we love his toughness and his leadership. I’d want to play for a guy who put it on the line like that.”
Fitzpatrick’s teammates agree with their coach’s assessment.
“It means a lot,” Williams said. “He’s a tough guy. Ryan, he’s one of the leaders, so you know everybody looks up to him. You see that gave us a lot of energy, a lot of spark on the sideline.”