Miami Dolphins

Dolphins need to start Josh Rosen, even if he’s terrible

Even though the Miami Dolphins sent a second-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals for Josh Rosen, they seem to have no interest in playing the former No. 10 overall pick.

Nobody expects the Miami Dolphins to succeed in 2019. They have a first-year NFL head coach in Brian Flores, a limited number of assets on each side of the ball, and a quarterback competition between a middle-of-the-road veteran in Ryan Fitzpatrick and a possible first-round bust in Josh Rosen.

If the Dolphins were smart, they would start Rosen. Not only did they send a second-round pick (and a fifth) to the Arizona Cardinals during the draft in a bizarre trade, but they would benefit from starting Rosen regardless of if he’s good or not.

Wait, the Dolphins would benefit if Rosen stinks? Indeed.

If Rosen is worth the second-round pick, the Dolphins have the franchise quarterback they’ve been looking for since the turn of the century.

And if not, there’s a chance the Dolphins will be so awful that they’ll get a chance to draft one of the 2020 class’ best quarterbacks. The Dolphins have long been mediocre, but the issue is that they’ve never been bad enough to get their pick at the best possible quarterbacks in a given draft class. The highest they’ve gone is Ryan Tannehill at No. 8, but if they’re one of the worst teams in the league next season, they could potentially grab Heisman candidate Tu’a Tagovailoa.

Unfortunately, the Dolphins aren’t thinking about the long term. Flores recently told reporters that Fitzpatrick is clearly leading the quarterback competition against Rosen.

That indicates Rosen has been a huge disappointment in his first offseason with the Dolphins, and while the team isn’t closing the door on him outshining Fitzpatrick later on, it says something that he’s not being given the first shot at the starting job.

Wouldn’t it make more sense for the Dolphins to confidently support a player they traded a second-round pick for and give him a chance to play before making damning statements about a “pretty clear” difference in quality? And what does it say that a lifelong journeyman, interception-machine in Fitzpatrick has such a distinctive lead on Rosen in the competition?

Yes, it says that Rosen may be as terrible as the Cardinals foresaw. But for the Dolphins, that’s OK. It’s better to see exactly what Rosen has before going back to the drawing board in 2020.

NFL teams, in general, don’t tank. There’s too much pride on the line, and coaches like Flores don’t even have a guarantee that they’ll be given grace for one bad season, regardless of the lack of talent on their team.

But take a look at the Cleveland Browns quick turn-around in 2018 with Baker Mayfield at quarterback to see what a well-executed tank can do for a team. Then look at the Dolphins years of mediocrity to see what NFL’s version of purgatory looks like.

There’s only one way for the Dolphins to escape purgatory; they need to do something bold. They need to start Rosen, even if it’s “pretty clear” he isn’t on Fitzpatrick’s level.

Because there’s absolutely no upside in keeping Fitzpatrick, who is a 36-year-old known commodity with a career losing record and zero playoff appearances. Whereas starting Rosen would yield one of two possible outcomes: a franchise quarterback or a chance at a franchise quarterback in 2020.

And if the Dolphins want to finally be a successful franchise, they need a franchise quarterback. They don’t need to keep giving middling talents like Tannehill or Fitzpatrick opportunities that they won’t cash in on.

If the Dolphins don’t start Rosen, then they might as well have wasted a second-round pick and a fifth-round pick, which could have yielded at least one quality starter on a team that was in the bottom five in yards of offense and defense in 2018. That’s not smart asset management, and it would speak to the Dolphins desperation to find a franchise quarterback that they burned picks on a player they opted not to play.

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So if the Dolphins are desperate enough to be the only team to trade for Rosen, a player the Cardinals were clearly never going to keep after taking Kyler Murray first overall, they should be desperate enough to roll the dice with him.

And they should be desperate enough to tank.

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