Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Chan Gailey made an effort on Tuesday to explain if the team has more trust in veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick than rookie Tua Tagovailoa, especially when it comes to throwing deep.
That question came in the wake of Fizpatrick’s late-game heroics on Saturday night, when the veteran was given more freedom than Tagovailoa to go long.
“You have the game plan set up that you go into it with, and you’re in a different mode when you get to the end there,” Gailey responded. “You’re in a totally different mode. It is different because of the situations, not because of the players.”
Fitzpatrick’s amazing deep throw helped set up the Dolphins’ game-winning field goal and was one of two deep tosses for the veteran on the drive. In contrast, Tagovailoa was limited to 17 completions for just 94 yards, with the Dolphins’ game plan focusing on the rookie tossing short-yardage throws.
“We’ve been a team that’s tried to be 9-, 10-, 11-, 12-play drives, run the football, play-action pass, control the time on the clock,” Gailey continued. “And that’s the situation that we found with Tua in the ballgame. Plus, you’re missing some receivers from time to time and that has something to do with it. So, a lot of that goes into decision-making about how the game is being called and what kind of plays we run.”
Fitzpatrick was replaced in the starting lineup by Tagovailoa after six games this season, but has since come in during games at Denver and Las Vegas in an effort to help the Dolphins come back.
That strategy worked against the Raiders, but it’s clear that the Dolphins are slowly grooming Tagovailoa to be the team’s quarterback of the future.
As time goes on, Tagovailoa will undoubtedly be given more responsibility late in games and when it comes to going deep. For now, however, the Dolphins are thankful to have a veteran presence they can turn to when a game is on the line.