Miami Dolphins veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was excited for Tua Tagovailoa's arrival just like many fans, but that doesn't mean he's laying down for Tagovailoa to become the team's Week 1 starting quarterback.
"I'm as competitive as they come, so I want to go out and start. I know there's a lot of forces that go into it from all kinds of different sides so whether that happens or not who knows," Fitzpatrick said. "But I know in order for our team to be successful, whoever is playing, that quarterback room has to be successful. Whether that's me out there, doing everything I can to put the team in position to win or whether that's Tua out there doing it.
"I'm going to do the best I can to help him to make sure our position is doing the things to make our team win. That's my mentality. That's how I think about it. You know me very well from last year, and you know I want to be out there competing on Sundays."
Sporting a quarantine beard and hairstyle that he says hasn't been trimmed since the coronavirus pandemic shutdown in March, Fitzpatrick said on a Zoom session that he's been in this situation before and he's ready to be a mentor for Tagovailoa.
Full beard and hair Ryan Fitzpatrick, who says he hasn't been able to get a haircut since they shut barbershops down.— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) May 21, 2020
"The neck hair is crazy. I'm glad you can't see it." pic.twitter.com/zWg9PQihcy
Dolphins coach Brian Flores raves about Fitzpatrick's leadership and intangibles, and the team hopes some of that will stick with Tagovailoa as he gets integrated into the NFL in an unique offseason.
There hasn't been a decision yet on who will start to begin the season, but Flores has often referred to Fitzpatrick as one of the team's key leaders and he has the advantage of playing for the coach he calls the first one to truly believe in him in new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.
"I just try to go in everyday and be myself. Even in the Zoom meetings right now, just be myself. I help them try to make sure they know and they're comfortable coming to me with questions," Fitzpatrick said describing his leadership style with Tagovailoa and Josh Rosen during virtual organized team activities. "I also am going to express my opinions and thoughts on plays that we're watching and in two-minute drives. We've been going over some of that stuff. My mind and the process how I think through it -- right or wrong -- just provide them some perspective.
"I'm excited for [Tagovailoa] to be here. I loved watching him play in college. I think he's going to be an awesome addition to the team for a long time."
Fitzpatrick, 37 and entering Year 16, is spending the offseason in Arizona. He said he doesn't throw much to preserve his arm during this period, but he has enjoyed being able to spend more time with his family.
During a podcast appearance with his former teammate and center Eric Wood this week, Fitzpatrick said he plans to be Tagovailoa's "biggest cheerleader."
Tagovailoa is also eager to learn under Fitzpatrick, saying on draft day that he wants "to understand the kind of person he is," "nitpick him, ask him how he goes about preparing for a defense" and "just being able to question him."
If anybody knows how to balance being Tagovailoa's mentor and cheerleader while still passionately competing for the Dolphins starting quarterback job in 2020, it's Fitzpatrick, who has seen just about every situation in his NFL career.