News & Analysis

Ryan Fitzpatrick's stellar 2018 season led to him being named the Miami Dolphins' starter

In a move that can be justified almost only by way of “he’s a veteran,” the Miami Dolphins announced they’d be starting journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick over 2018 first-round pick Josh Rosen for their Week 1 opener against the Baltimore Ravens. There were valid reasons to go with either signal-caller, but the numbers this preseason — and age — showed that Rosen may deserve another shot after being cast out of Arizona following his rookie year.

But no matter the reasoning, Fitzpatrick once again finds himself at the helm for an NFL team. In his 11 seasons where he qualified by snap count, only in 2018 did he finally eclipse an 80.0 overall grade, posting an 84.4 mark.

Among the 36 quarterbacks with at least 175 attempts in 2018, Fitzpatrick ranked 13th overall in accuracy percentage (64.9%) and started out the year hot with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His first two starts earned him 90.0-plus game grades, and the stretch pitted him as the NFL’s best quarterback in Weeks 1 and 2 with a staggering 99.2 grade.

But Fitzpatrick understandably regressed, failing to earn a 70.0-plus game grade in any of his next five starts (not including a strong Week 5 relief outing). His league-leading 10 big-time throws — including 0 turnover-worthy plays — in the two-game span quickly became overshadowed by 10 turnover-worthy plays in his next six appearances.

Still, Fitzpatrick finished the 2018 season ranked in the top half of most meaningful categories for quarterbacking categories. His adjusted completion rate of 74.8% slotted him only at No. 22, but he had the third-highest average depth of target (10.8 yards) and finished with the second-fewest passing yards gained after the catch by percentage (36.0%).

It can be debated whether Fitzpatrick truly deserves the Week 1 nod, but his 2018 season showed the very high ceiling that he can be capable of reaching. Entering his 15th year in the league, Ryan Fitzpatrick knows how to win on the NFL stage. And he’ll get an opportunity to show off again with the eighth team of his career.

[Editor's Note: All of PFF's player grades and advanced statistics are finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers before 5 pm ET on the Monday following each weekend's slate of games during the season. Sign up today to gain access!]

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