LINKAlthough an announcement from the club won't come until Tuesday, the Miami Dolphins have chosen Jay Fiedler as their starting quarterback for Sunday's regular-season opener against Tennessee, league and team sources have confirmed for ESPN.com.
Fiedler and challenger A.J. Feeley, who battled for the starting job throughout camp and the preseason, were apprised of the decision by head coach Dave Wannstedt in meetings Monday morning. It is believed that Fiedler retained his starting job in a very close call over Feeley and that the decision was arrived at by the staff Sunday evening after a lengthy review of the merits of both quarterbacks.
While the decision to stick with the incumbent was not a surprise, some observers felt as recently as a week ago that Feeley would get the nod.
This will mark the fifth consecutive season-opening start for Fiedler, who has averaged 10.4 starts since joining the Dolphins as a free agent in 2000.
Most observers felt that, after missing the playoffs for two straight seasons, the Dolphins would go in a different direction at quarterback. Those suspicions were fueled when the team acquired Feeley from Philadelphia in an early March trade in which Miami sent a second-round pick in the 2005 draft to the Eagles.
Feeley, a notoriously poor practice player, struggled at times in camp and in preseason games. The fourth-year veteran completed 23 of 41 passes for 244 yards, with no touchdown passes and one interception.
Fiedler, meanwhile, completed 20 of 33 passes for 199 yards, with one touchdown pass and no interceptions.
A ninth-year veteran who had started just one regular-season game before joining the Dolphins, Fiedler has posted an impressive 35-17 record as a starter. He is a player who is more a complementary-type quarterback, one who is typically steady and will not lose games, but also won't win many games with big plays, either. While he has a legion of critics, Fiedler is much respected in the Miami locker room.
There was even some sentiment, after the Dolphins acquired Feeley, that Fiedler might be released. Obviously, that was not the case, and he arrived at camp determined to retain his spot atop the depth chart. Feeley will have to settle once again for being a backup, despite a 4-1 record as a starter, and the belief by some in the NFL that he possesses more than enough skill to be a starter someday.
Fiedler, 32, has completed 899 of 1,514 pass attempts for 10,551 yards, and the former Dartmouth standout has 61 touchdown passes, 58 interceptions and a 78.1 passer rating.