Tua gets off the bench, but only for Dolphins celebration
By STEVEN WINE
AP Sports Writer
MIAMI (AP) — Besides throwing for 350 yards to help the Dolphins beat the 49ers, Ryan Fitzpatrick made a nice catch when teammate Tua Tagovailoa jumped into his arms to celebrate a touchdown.
For another week, at least, that may the only way Tagovailoa gets onto the field.
Fitzpatrick quelled Miami’s quarterback controversy with one of the best performances of his up-and-down career at San Francisco, ensuring he’ll start again Sunday against the New York Jets.
“He’s the greatest teammate I’ve played with,” tight end Mike Gesicki said Monday. “He’s always having fun; the energy and confidence he brings are contagious, and he makes the guys around him better. If I could play with him for the next 15 years, I would do it. He’s the man.”
If the Dolphins (2-3) win again Sunday and Fitzpatrick plays well, it’s hard to imagine coach Brian Flores switching QBs during the bye week that follows. Otherwise that would have been a logical time to promote Tagovailoa, Miami’s top draft pick and potential franchise quarterback.
Flores said he didn’t consider putting Tagovailoa into the game late in Sunday’s 43-17 win to make his NFL debut.
“If I want to let him hand the ball off, I guess maybe that will make some people happy,” Flores said. “I don’t see any real point in that. Look, he’s the backup. He’ll be ready to go when his number is called.”
Flores was in attack mode from the start against defending NFC champion San Francisco, and his aggressiveness paid off.
Fitzpatrick hit Preston Williams for 47 yards on the Dolphins’ first play. Later came a long throw to Gesicki for 70 yards. And when Fitzpatrick hit DeVante Parker for a 22-yard score, it was the NFL’s longest touchdown on third-and-goal since 2001.
“Evaluating the few games before, we haven’t taken enough shots down the field and given our guys chances,” Fitzpatrick said. “We’ve got some pretty big targets out there, and guys that can really run.”
On defense the Dolphins blitzed more, and the result was five sacks, their highest total in Flores’ two years as coach. Five players had one sack apiece.
“We just do a great job of understanding the defense so we can put different guys in different spots,” linebacker Jerome Baker said. “Sometimes the coaches don’t even tell us; we just do it.”
On special teams, the Dolphins pulled off a fake punt that ended any hopes the 49ers had of a comeback.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Fitzpatrick’s inconsistency is a hallmark of his career, and he followed perhaps his worst performance of the year in Week 4 with his best: His passer rating against the 49ers was a near-perfect 154.5.
He’s as puzzled as anyone by his wild swings from FitzMagic to FitzTragic. “Playing quarterback in this league is hard and I still, after 16 years, can’t figure it out,” he said.
Williams had four catches for 106 yards and a score, his best game since he suffered an ACL injury that sidelined him for the second half of last season.
“I’m starting to get more comfortable out there, just getting my football feet back under me,” he said.
Williams won a starting job as an undrafted rookie last year.
Running back Jordan Howard, who signed a $9.75 million, two-year deal with Miami in March, was a healthy inactive. He has 14 yards in 18 carries this year.
With rookie left tackle Austin Jackson (ankle) sidelined for at least three games, veteran Jesse Davis moved from right tackle to replace him, and second-round pick Robert Hunt made his first career start at right tackle.
The Dolphins have started three rookie draft picks in the offensive line, a first in one season for the franchise.
“There’s a lot of energy from that group,” Flores said.
Jackson, a first-round pick, is expected to miss at least two more weeks of practice.
118 — The Dolphins’ season total for first downs, which ranks fifth in the NFL. The last time they finished higher than 19th was in 2014.
The NFL schedule revised because of coronavirus outbreaks has Miami playing host to the Jets (0-5), rather than playing Sunday at Denver.
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