Minkah Fitzpatrick is used to success in his football career. As a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide, he was a champion, a constant candidate to make waves in college football, and he was intent on taking that same attitude to his new NFL team the Miami Dolphins.
Unfortunately, success eluded them, as the Dolphins were officially eliminated from playoff contention after an embarrassing loss at home to the Jacksonville Jaguars, 17-7.
Now, as the team prepares to play a meaningless game in Buffalo, Fitzpatrick reflects on his first NFL season as a whole, and what the experience taught him.
“It’s not over yet. We’ve still got one more game." He said. "It’s been good. (There were some) up’s and down’s. I’ve been learning a lot and growing as a player. I’ve been moving around a lot so like I said, I’ve been learning a lot, having fun. I’ll definitely use this year as a learning experience, as a humbling experience. This offseason, we’ve got to do what we got to do as a team, stick together, train together, and do what we have to do to improve and just use this season as a stepping stone to where we want to go.”
Dolphins DB Minkah Fitzpatrick speaks to the media after a 17-7 loss to the Jaguars.
Obviously, the goal is to ultimately win a Super Bowl, but it's clear after the performance this season by the team as a whole - whether they want to admit it or not - there's a lot of work that needs to be done before the Miami Dolphins fight song becomes accurate again. For now, all Fitzpatrick can do is focus on the offseason and figure out what he can do to improve his own game.
Wherever he finally ends up.
"I gotta know what I'm gonna be playing first."
And that is an excellent point. Throughout the season, Fitzpatrick has played in the boundary, the slot, and at safety, sometimes all in one game. Versatility was one of the reasons he was so appealing in the first place, but ideally, Miami would want him to be able to focus on becoming elite at one position, rather than good at several.
Despite being put on a position carousel, Fitzpatrick impressed the Dolphins with his professionalism and ability to remain calm under pressure, no doubt honed during his Alabama days with Nick Saban. Though he struggled somewhat near the tail end of the season as he was asked to take on more responsibility, he still showed astounding promise and proof that he will eventually be an excellent player in the league.
One can only hope that he'll return to playing meaningful football in the near future, and that whoever is coaching him in the coming years will be able to put him in a position to be the best he can be.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
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