What recent veteran vs. rookie QB battles mean for Justin Fields

Chicago Bears - Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears - Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Chicago Bears, Tua Tagovailoa
Chicago Bears (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Comparing the Chicago Bears QBs: Tua Tagovailoa and Ryan Fitzpatrick (2020)

Week 1 Starter: Ryan Fitzpatrick

Tagovailoa’s first start: Week 8

After going through a few teams that were able to make seamless transitions between their quarterbacks, it’s only fitting to end with a team that wasn’t able to.

The Dolphins quarterback controversy may have cost them a spot in the playoffs

The Dolphins drafted Alabama phenom Tua Tagovaila sixth overall in the 2020 draft. Miami had taken a flyer on 2018 first-round selection Josh Rosen before benching him for journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick had always been good enough to get starting jobs but not good enough to hold them down for long periods of time.

Plus, Fitzpatrick was already 37; it seemed to make sense for Miami to make a play on their franchise quarterback. With Tagovailoa coming off major hip surgery, Miami was forced to start Fitzpatrick early and the season and started Tagovailoa midway through the season after their bye week.

Things started out well for Tagovailoa and the Dolphins, but things started to get rocky. Tagovailoa was benched for Fitzpatrick against the Broncos in Week 12 and once against the Raiders in Week 16. After Fitzpatrick led a heroic comeback against the Raiders and put the Dolphins a game away from making the playoffs, Brian Flores decided to start Tagovailoa once again in Week 17.

Tagovailoa threw three interceptions, and the Dolphins lost the game and missed the playoffs. Although the Dolphins’ mishandling of the quarterback situation isn’t the only reason the team made the playoffs, switching quarterbacks in and out of games, especially two players as different as Fitzpatrick and Tagovailoa, didn’t help.

Fitzpatrick was playing well at the time of the benching, and it seemed pretty clear throughout the season the Dolphins trusted him more. Miami was in a tough situation, where they felt pressured into playing their young draft pick, even though they knew they had a better chance of winning with Fitzpatrick.

The biggest mistake the Dolphins made was flipping back and forth between the two. It hurt the offense’s chemistry and definitely didn’t help Tagovailoa’s confidence. The biggest takeaway from this situation is that when a coach makes the move to a rookie, it’s important to make sure he’s 100% ready. This is an example of a time where moving to a young quarterback too soon can backfire.