Veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick has won the Miami Dolphins quarterback battle, but Josh Rosen will get his chance eventually.
Brian Flores made the biggest decision yet in his short tenure as Miami Dolphins head coach on Thursday.
Immediately after the Dolphins finished their preseason finale against the New Orleans Saints, Flores announced that Ryan Fitzpatrick will start the season opener next Sunday instead of Josh Rosen.
In many ways, the decision doesn’t come as a surprise. Fitzpatrick got most of the snaps with the first-team offense in training camp and started two of the first three preseason games. Entering his 15th year in the NFL, Fitzpatrick gives this young Dolphins roster that’s going through a rebuilding phase a veteran leader to help guide them.
But Fitzpatrick, who turns 37 in November and signed a two-year, $11 million contract with Miami in the offseason, is just a stopgap in South Beach. Rosen, meanwhile, stands a better chance to be the quarterback of the future if the Dolphins don’t draft another quarterback next year.
It was just a year ago that Rosen, 22, was drafted 10th overall by the Arizona Cardinals out of UCLA. After a disappointing rookie season that saw him throw more interceptions than touchdowns while winning only three of 13 games as a starter, the Cardinals decided to go in a different direction and drafted Kyler Murray with the first overall pick in April.
Rosen was traded to Miami the next day and has been locked in a tight battle with Fitzpatrick ever since. While Fitzpatrick started the majority of preseason games, Rosen did have his shining moments. He got the start in the second game against Tampa Bay, and after Fitzpatrick could only manage six points against Jacksonville in the third week, Rosen orchestrated a 99-yard drive as the Dolphins came back to win 22-7.
Fitzpatrick finished the preseason 17/32 for 166 yards and a touchdown, while Rosen completed 28/45 passes while throwing for 352 yards. Neither quarterback played in Thursday’s preseason finale in New Orleans.
Rosen did appear to struggle at times when given the opportunity. He was sacked five times and failed to throw a touchdown in his three games. He’s also having to adjust to his third offensive system already in his brief NFL career. Last season, Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was fired after Week 7 and Byron Leftwich served out the rest of the year. Now Rosen is trying to learn Dolphins’ OC Chad O’Shea’s playbook. Flores said on Thursday that he’s made steady improvement throughout camp and is certain that Rosen’s time will come eventually.
“Like I’ve said multiple times, I think he’s improved greatly over the course of training camp,” Flores said. “This is a young kid who works extremely hard, it’s important to him, he’s talented. But playing quarterback in this league, it takes some time. He’s in a new offense. I think he’ll get there, I do, I really do. When, I don’t know, and a lot of that is up to him.”
Fitzpatrick will continue Miami’s seemingly never-ending search for a franchise quarterback when he takes the field in Week 1. He’ll be the 20th different quarterback to start with the Dolphins since Dan Marino retired in 1999. At some point this season, Rosen will become the 21st. But when that will be, not even Flores can be sure.
Miami plays the Baltimore Ravens in the team’s season opener on Sept. 8 at Hard Rock Stadium.