Can Ryan Fitzpatrick really beat Josh Rosen for the Dolphins' starting QB spot?

Yahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports

The Miami Dolphins made a bold if smart move when they traded a second-round draft pick for 2018 No. 10 overall pick Josh Rosen last month.

So could they really go into the season starting any other quarterback?

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First-year head coach Brian Flores suggested as much at Friday’s press conference. The Dolphins brought in Ryan Fitzpatrick on a two-year, $11 million deal, and his role is not set in stone as the backup.

"There's going to be competition, really across the board on this team," Flores said, via NFL.com. "I don't think that there's any way to raise the level of a group than to create competition."

Positional battles are nothing new for Rosen or Fitzpatrick, both of whom had to fight for playing time on the Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, respectively. And with 120 days until their first regular season game, the Dolphins have plenty of time to sort things out.

"As far as the quarterback position, like every other position, there'll be competition there," Flores said. "In that position, we're looking for leadership, we're looking for, obviously, accuracy, we're looking for someone, who, for the most part, can lead the team. And put together successful drives and put us in good position in the run game and the pass game, from a protection standpoint. So there's a lot that goes into it, it's a leadership position and there's going to be some competition at that position for sure."

Since the Dolphins are unlikely to make the playoffs — no team has a lower over/under set for wins — the choice of Rosen seems like an obvious one. But given that the new regime may want to start on a strong note — Rosen’s old coach Steve Wilks was only given one year — there are cases for either quarterback to lead the way.

The case for Josh Rosen

This one is pretty obvious. The Dolphins traded for Rosen because they think he has the chance to be a franchise quarterback, and they won’t be able to figure that out with him riding the bench. Given that they could be picking at the top of next draft, they had better find out this year before deciding on whether or not to draft Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa.

Rosen certainly didn’t have a great 2018, and if he did, he likely would still be in Arizona. Out of 33 qualified quarterbacks last season, Rosen ranked last in quarterback rating (66.7), last in yards per attempt (5.80) and 32nd in completion percentage (55.2 percent).

Of course, the context of last season is important. Few rookie quarterbacks could have succeeded behind the Cardinals’ beat-up line and with their paltry set of skill position players. That doesn’t totally absolve Rosen’s poor year, but it’s too soon to give up on the former top pick, and he deserves a chance to prove himself.

Ryan Fitzpatrick could force his way into playing time on the Dolphins. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Ryan Fitzpatrick could force his way into playing time on the Dolphins. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

The case for Ryan Fitzpatrick

All things considered, Fitzpatrick had a very solid 2018 season. He finish ninth in quarterback rating (100.4), first in yards per attempt (9.62) and 13th in completion percentage, although his touchdown-to-interception ratio (27:12) left much to be desired.

Fitzpatrick was not expected to command playing time last season once Jameis Winston’s suspension ended, but he forced the team’s hand with his strong play. The Bucs ultimately went with Winston because he actually has a chance to be a part of the team’s future, but Fitzpatrick temporarily helped them get off to a 2-0 start with surprise wins over the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints.

Fitzpatrick can certainly be a good mentor for Rosen without taking playing time, but the Dolphins also don’t need to throw Rosen to the wolves if he (or the team) is not ready. Rosen’s development was stunted by the 45 sacks he endured, and he needs to be put in a position to succeed.

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