The Dolphins QB Paradox – Rosen Vs. Fitzpatrick
For the first time in a long time, the Miami Dolphins have a competition for their starting quarterback position. Josh Rosen isn’t just fighting Ryan Fitzpatrick, he’s also fighting against QBs that are still in college (see: Tua Tagovailoa). You see, Josh Rosen has the 2019 season to prove to the Dolphins that he can be their franchise quarterback. Don’t think so? If he bombs and Fitzpatrick leads the Dolphins to a top 3 pick in the draft, don’t you think the Dolphins will use their tremendous draft capital to take a QB early in round one? They absolutely will.
Look, they took a flyer on Rosen, finding a former top 10 draft pick in the discount bin when they traded a very late 2nd round pick for him. It was a low-cost/high-reward maneuver. If it works out, they got a steal. If it doesn’t, they simply took a gamble and lost.
Josh Rosen arrived in Miami in late April and started camp trailing Ryan Fitzpatrick in the QB competition. In fact, the first week of camp just underscored that point, causing Brian Flores to tell the media that Fitzpatrick was leading the competition, early last week.
However, since that time, Fitzpatrick has been…..well, Fitzpatrick. He’s been inconsistent, showing us all why he’s been a journeyman quarterback over the years. Meanwhile, Josh Rosen has stacked good practice after good practice, showing the type of progression the Dolphins need to see.
Fitzpatrick took the first team snaps on Monday, as the team prepares for their first preseason game on Thursday night against the Falcons. He’s also listed first on the depth chart. Neither of those things mean anything if Rosen continues to improve.
What’s fascinating to me is what the Dolphins plan will be for the season. Consider, if Rosen loses the QB competition, the other players on the team will know it. And considering how much stock Flores puts in competition and having the best players play, he won’t be able to let Rosen play unless Fitzpatrick struggles or gets injured. But is that what’s best for the long term future of the Dolphins? Fitzpatrick is signed for 2019 and 2020, but he’s not the franchise QB the Dolphins have been looking for. And the team is rebuilding, so they need to find a young (cheap) franchise QB of the future.
This is why I’m calling this situation the Dolphins QB Paradox. While it’s better in the Dolphins long-term interest to find out what they have in Rosen, it would be sacrificing one of the core principles Flores preaches to the entire team….his locker room would lose faith in him.
Now, if Rosen outperforms Fitzpatrick, the solution is simple: Start Rosen. The paradox only exists if Fitzpatrick outperforms Rosen in the preseason. If that happens, I think the Dolphins will ultimately start Fitzpatrick, with Rosen sitting on the sidelines, watching and learning. Fitzpatrick is a pro and Rosen would be wise to soak up all of the experience he can. The Dolphins could then bring in Rosen if Fitzpatrick struggles, if he gets injured, or if the season is lost (say 5-6 early losses).
The good news is that the Dolphins should have a good gauge on what they have in Rosen by the end of the season. If he’s great, their QB problem is solved. If he’s mediocre, they can draft a QB and still have Rosen as an inexpensive backup (or trade him or Fitzpatrick). It will be interesting to see how this all plays out over the next few weeks, as the preseason kicks off and the QBs get to play against opposing defenses.
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