The Miami Dolphins are a mess.
Judging by the state of their quarterback battle, they’ll continue to be so.
The once-proud franchise has been relegated to irrelevance for the entirety of the nearly two-decade run of dominance by the AFC East rival New England Patriots.
Dolphins don’t have a competitive team
The present is somehow worse. Yahoo’s Frank Schwab has the floundering franchise ranked 31st out of 32 teams entering the season.
His assessment is generous compared to Las Vegas, where the Dolphins stand alone at the bottom of the Westgate Superbook futures odds as 500-to-1 long shots to win the Super Bowl.
The next-longest shot according to Westgate? The Arizona Cardinals sit at 200-to-1. Every other NFL team is listed at 100-to-1 or better.
Which makes the statement from rookie head coach Brian Flores on Monday all the more baffling.
Fitzpatrick named frontrunner
Flores announced that Ryan Fitzpatrick has a leg up on Josh Rosen in the team’s quarterback battle.
"It's pretty clear to me that Ryan Fitzpatrick is leading the way," Flores told reporters. "He's done that in a lot of areas, from leadership to production on the field to the meeting rooms to the walk-throughs. This is an ongoing competition, but right now he's leading the way."
The problem here isn’t that Fitzpatrick is outperforming Rosen. It’s that he’s being considered for the job to begin with.
Gauging Josh Rosen should be top priority in Miami
After trading a second-round pick to acquire Rosen from the Arizona Cardinals, this season in Miami should be about one thing only — finding out if Josh Rosen is the quarterback of the future.
Right now, Fitzpatrick may look like the guy to give the Dolphins a chance to win more games this season. But the stark reality in Miami is that winning more games this season is not a priority.
If Fitzpatrick — 36 years old and most definitely not the future of the quarterback position in Miami — gives the Dolphins a shot at winning five games instead of three, what is gained? A couple more Sundays of muted satisfaction among Dolphins fans. And nothing else.
No pressure on Flores
Flores joined the Dolphins on a five-year contract. This seems to indicate that the team is willing to give Flores time to work the rebuild. With expectations so low in Miami this season, there shouldn’t be any immediate pressure on the first-year head coach.
If the Dolphins were to hand the offense to Rosen — the No. 10 pick of last year’s draft — and he ends up being a disaster, then little is lost beyond the second-round pick the team surrendered.
They will have found their answer on Rosen gauged against real, live NFL competition and have likely helped their cause in what some are assessing is a “tank-for-Tua” season.
Alabama’s cannon-armed quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is considered the consensus top pick of next year’s draft and would be a prime target for the Dolphins if Rosen doesn’t pan out.
The upside of starting Rosen is finding out that he does possess the tools that made him a top-10 pick. But the Dolphins won’t know either way if they hand the offense to Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick a known commodity
As he showed in Tampa Bay last season, Fitzpatrick is capable of lighting up scoreboards and highlight reels in short stints and could provide a punch of excitement into a team mired in malaise.
But that’s all he offers. As a 14 year-journeyman with a 50-75-1 record as an NFL starter, Fitzpatrick is a known commodity.
That commodity is mediocre football. If the Dolphins are intent on remaining in the muck with Fitzpatrick, then they should name him the Week 1 starter.
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