Ryan Fitzpatrick fully supports Tua Tagovailoa ... and fully aims to start

One thing about Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick: When it comes to his beard -- and in this case, his hair -- he never disappoints.

The 16th-year veteran appeared on a video call with reporters Thursday sporting a hair style straight from Saturday Night Fever and a beard that seemed to have not been trimmed since that film starring John Travolta was released in 1977.

The beard would make anything Ben Roethlisberger had going on look like a 5 o'clock shadow.

"There are only two people in the country I trust to touch this," Fitzpatrick said from his home in Arizona, far away from his trusted beard trimmers in Tampa and New Jersey. "This thing has been growing since everything has been shut down. The neck hair is out of control. I'm glad you can't see it."

The Dolphins' projected incumbent starter said that he knows, once again, his role is in jeopardy without a snap being taken. Miami selected QB Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth overall pick and the former Alabama star is viewed as the long-term answer. Fitzpatrick, 37, said he is fully aware that he could be supplanted, as this has happened to him before -- even last season, when Miami traded for former first-round pick Josh Rosen.

He's not going down without a fight.

"I'm as competitive as they come,' Fitzpatrick said. "I want to go out there and start. I know there are a lot of forces that go into it from all kinds of different sides. Whether than happens or not, who knows?

"In order for our team to be successful, whoever is playing, that QB room has to be successful."

The confidence in Fitzpatrick has been openly declared by head coach Brian Flores, but the well-traveled signal-caller said he doesn't need to actually hear praise to understand his stature with the Dolphins.

"I was able to see and feel, every day, at the end of last year, the way we had things going and the confidence that was in the building," Fitzpatrick said.

The Dolphins pared their roster down to relative bare bones last season, but still managed to win five games, all with Fitzpatrick as the starter. Although a 5-11 record isn't viewed as success, the culture that Flores established in his debut head-coaching campaign -- one which many assumed would be a complete "Tank for Tua" debacle -- set a ground floor that's resulted in enhanced expectations this season, regardless of who is the team's starting quarterback.

Leading up to the draft, Tagovailoa said that he wouldn't mind joining a team with a veteran QB in place, so he could learn as many things as possible about playing at the NFL level. Tagovailoa also was coming off a major hip injury that required surgery and extensive rehab.

He's healthy now, though, and with a groundswell of hype, the push to get him onto the field can only be muted by Fitzpatrick seizing his role, furthering confidence teammates have in him -- and winning. Fitzpatrick said he will be Tagovailoa's biggest supporter, teacher and sounding board. He wants the rookie to feel comfortable to ask questions and to seek help.

He said that he also wants to set an on-field example by leading and running and offense, now being led by offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. Fitzpatrick's former head coach in Buffalo and offensive coordinator with the Jets. Gailey was hired out of retirement this past winter.

Fitzpatrick said he will always feel indebted to Gailey for giving him a chance to be a starter in Buffalo. He also said his offensive teammates should not have a difficult time learning Gailey's system. Although, not being together to execute things on the field because of restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic will slow down the process.

"It's difficult not being there because we are very young and there are going to be a lot of new faces," Fitzpatrick said. "We're doing the best we can with what we have."

Unlike Tom Brady and some other quarterbacks who have connected with teammates to go through routes and plays, Fitzpatrick said he has not thrown much. That's been his routine for years, he said, claiming that as offseason workouts progress, so does his workload. He has started to throw some and said he's been staying in shape so he will be ready whenever things resume.

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @Wyche89.

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