Often times a one-man highlight reel in 2019, Ryan Fitzpatrick did everything he could at the tail end of last season to provide Dolphins fans with excitement and the Miami franchise with something to cheer for following a dubious onset to the campaign.
Not only does Fitzpatrick want to continue playing, but he showed in 2019 that he most certainly can still play and do so at a high level.
Nonetheless, the Dolphins have their franchise quarterback of the future in Tua Tagovailoa -- the Alabama product selected fifth in the 2020 NFL Draft by Miami. Perhaps surprisingly, Fitzpatrick was happy to see the Fins pick Tagovailoa.
"I'm excited that they drafted him," Fitzpatrick said on Eric Wood's "What's Next" podcast, via SI.com's Alain Poupart. "I'm excited because in watching him play at Alabama, he looks like a pretty dynamic talent. Just in meeting him a few times, he seems like an unbelievable kid, great head on his shoulders, says the right things, wants to do the right things, so like — for me — I'm his biggest cheerleader right now, but I also want to be out there playing. I also want to be on the field because that's why I'm still doing it, because I still enjoy the game."
It's really not a new concept. An older quarterback who still has some left in the tank and a highly-touted rookie who is the future of the club together on the same roster. No matter the best of intentions, the hope of a bright tomorrow via Tagovailoa and the prospects of a meaningful present via one of the NFL's all-time finest journeyman QBs will collide.
The Dolphins will actually take a two-game winning streak into 2020, thanks in large part to the histrionics of Fitzpatrick, who led Miami to the biggest highlight of last season in Week 17 when a 27-24 win was had over the hated Patriots. The victory, one in which Fitzpatrick threw for more than 300 yards, had two total touchdowns and out dueled Tom Brady, kept New England from a first-round playoff bye. In the eyes of some, it was a win for the Dolphins that effectively ended the best of times in Beantown.
For Fitzpatrick, it was the capper to a season that showed -- despite his age and being on his eighth franchise -- that he could still play at a high level and compete at the highest of levels. He threw for 3,500 yards and 20 TDs in 13 starts, while also leading the Dolphins in rushing with a career-high 209 yards.
"Last year may have been my best season in terms all the obstacles that we had faced, the adversity, the things that we went through throughout the season and what we did at the tail end of the season," Fitzpatrick said. "I view last year as such a success for the Miami organization and what we were able to do and improve throughout that season and the last game of the year, beating New England in a must-win for them in Foxborough."
Though Fitzpatrick's showings last year are a testament of what he still has left in him, this is nothing all that new for Fitzpatrick. In many ways he's a placeholder. But he's also there to compete while helping along the next big thing. Though he's hoping to teach by example, no matter the role, Fitzpatrick has designs on carrying it out to the best of his abilities.
"Hopefully some of the lessons I'm able to teach him are (from) him watching me, but if it's the other way around, I'm going to do my best to help him succeed in the best way that he can," he said.
There's little doubt that Tagovailoa is the future of the Dolphins franchise, but Fitzpatrick and most notably his arm, experience and bearded wonderment, might have something to say about the immediate future for the team.
"To me, that was such a successful season [last year] and one that I'm so proud of," Fitzpatrick said. "But it just leaves me like wanting more. Like, I want to still play, I want to still be out there."