How’s this for pressure:
Brandon Doughty has the biggest job interview of his life Thursday night, and 40-50 of his closest friends and family will be in the room to witness it. Granted, it’s a really big room.
The Dolphins finish up their preseason against the Titans on Thursday, and Doughty, the rookie quarterback who grew up in Broward County, will have roughly a half of football to prove he deserves a roster spot. His competition, Zac Dysert, will get the same.
And this is no manufactured drama. Whoever plays best could end up winning the team’s No. 3 quarterback job.
“I think that’s real,” coach Adam Gase said Tuesday. “I’d like both of those guys, obviously, to play. It comes down to how the game is going to unfold, what the weather is like [and] will they have the opportunities they really are looking for. Obviously, both of those guys want us to call as many passes as possible. It’s going to be interesting to see how this thing unfolds on Thursday.”
So, this will be a more-intriguing-than-normal preseason finale, despite the general lack of star power.
There’s the Doughty and Dysert position battle.
And for the first time, fans will get a chance to see the inside of Hard Rock Stadium with the new canopy above their heads and the massive video boards in every corner.
Doughty, who played his high school ball at North Broward Prep, won’t care much about the new upgrades. He’ll be all business.
In fact, he’s been that way all week. Doughty (pronounced DOW-tee) has logged long hours with quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree in the film room trying to fix his mistakes from the past two weeks.
Doughty was excellent early in training camp and the preseason, but has regressed some since. A roster spot that was once seemingly his to lose might be slipping away.
Doughty, a record-setting passer at Western Kentucky, acknowledged he must do better.
“Without a question,” he said. “I’m missing reads. I’m kind of doing some things, kind of getting out of my element. Trying to make the big plays down the field. Just go back to what the defense gives me, what got me here. Trying to slow the game down.”
Doughty and Dysert’s preseason stats are similar. Doughty is 12 of 16 for 87 yards and a lost fumble; Dysert, who was with Gase in both Denver and Chicago, is 10 of 15 for 117 yards and a touchdown.
But there’s a growing sense that Dysert has the momentum; he, not Doughty, was the first quarterback off the bench against the Falcons last week. Meanwhile Doughty has continued to struggle with his progressions.
“I don’t want that to happen this game,” Doughty said. “I want to show them that I’ve grown in that area. It kind of makes it seem like I’m a dummy and I’m really not. I’m just trying to slow the game down as much as I can by watching film and trying to get myself better and prepared for the game.”
Dysert, meanwhile, has “progressed a lot,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “He’s really playing well right now. I saw a lot of great things out of him this past game.”
One play in particular stood out. On Dysert’s first drive last week, he converted a third-and-11 by finding Griff Whalen for 20.
“He went through his progressions, stood in the pocket, stepped up and made a great throw,” added Tannehill, who isn’t expected to play much, if at all, Thursday. “Another play, he moved a little bit to his right and found a guy. He’s really done a good job.”
Doughty, meanwhile, said he will be having a good night Thursday if he’s “communicating to everyone. If we’re not getting penalties, we’re not taking negative plays. I’m not taking sacks back there. Getting the ball out of my hands and getting completions. I know it’s a lot, but I expect a lot out of myself. I’m my own worst critic, that’s for sure.”