Set to be the third Miami Dolphins starting quarterback in as many weeks, Skylar Thompson will be making his first NFL start in the process.
A seventh-round rookie who impressed in the preseason and was thrust into Week 5 duty, Thompson will now be the man under center for the Fins – for at least one week, anyhow.
While the Dolphins didn’t have an eye on Thompson being a starter so quickly, head coach Mike McDaniel and Co. had their eye on the Kansas State product for some time.
“We were really excited to draft him,” McDaniel said Friday, via team transcript. “That was a target of ours that we had on our mind. We didn’t have a plethora of draft selections, so it was easy to hone in on people and we were targeting him for a long time. And that being said, he’s exceeded expectations. “
Thompson and the Dolphins (3-2) host the NFC North’s first-place Minnesota Vikings (4-1) on Sunday.
Dolphins QB1 Tua Tagovailoa (concussion) has been ruled out for a second week in a row and while Teddy Bridgewater (concussion protocol) could still be cleared to play Sunday, he would be Thompson’s backup in that scenario. Thompson is indeed the man for Miami on Sunday.
His NFL debut in Week 5 saw him complete 19 of 33 passes for 166 yards, no touchdowns and an interception during the Dolphins’ lopsided 40-17 loss to the New York Jets.
Regardless of the final numbers, McDaniel was impressed by his 25-year-old quarterback.
“He also has lived up to expectations from his play,” McDaniel said. “I didn’t know how he prepared and I didn’t know how the moments aren’t too big for him. I didn’t know that part. I kind of guessed, but what you saw on tape was a guy that was super tough. A guy that one of the things I look for a ton when you’re watching quarterbacks is what is he making decisions on? Is he seeing defenders or is he looking at receivers?
“So the way he saw the field, what he saw and then his toughness – because you know when you’re watching college tape that they’re throwing from pockets, that sometimes they’re muddy, sometimes are pretty clean. You know what the pockets look like in the National Football League, so they’ve got to be able to stand in there and to a degree be fearless in their own way. And you saw that and you saw how competitive he was. “
Thompson has attributes aplenty to laud, but he also has his teammates behind him by McDaniel’s accord.
The Dolphins were rolling right along when they jumped out to a 3-0 start to the season following a 21-19 win over the AFC East and Super Bowl-favorite Buffalo Bills. But the loss of Tagovailoa coincided with a current two-game skid.
Can Thompson turn things around? That answer comes Sunday, but heading into the game, McDaniel believes his squad has confidence in Thompson and views him simply as a quarterback, rather than a rookie.
“He’s got an entire football team that’s excited to play with him because of the stuff that we found out when he got here, which is that there’s nothing more important than his preparation and that when push comes to shove, if the read is telling him to make the hard play in a crucial moment, he’ll go after the hard play, “McDaniel said. “He won’t take the path of least resistance. So that’s one of the reasons you feel so confident with him because of – his teammates believe the same thing we do and we’ll go out there on Sunday and approach the team as a team, not a team with a rookie quarterback. Just a team. “