Tales of Josh Rosen’s demise weren’t just premature.
They were proven absurd Saturday.
Too bad there’s no publicly available tape of the Dolphins’ intrasquad sort-of-scrimmage, which was closed to the public because of weather.
It would show just how much has changed in a week.
Rosen, with owner Stephen Ross in attendance for the first time all camp, was in command and aggressive.
Fitzpatrick, named the front-runner just four days earlier, had perhaps his worst practice as a Dolphin.
Rosen had a touchdown pass and made some remarkable throws.
Fitzpatrick threw two interceptions and should have had a third on a deep pass to DeVante Parker into double coverage.
As a result, Rosen just might be the Dolphins’ QB1 when the Dolphins return to practice Monday.
“He’s made some improvement really across the board,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said before Saturday’s simulated game. “It’s things a lot of people don’t see. Better footwork, better mechanics in the pocket, better decision-making.”
Flores added: “I know I said he was leading the way the other day, but let’s be clear there’s still a lot competition and a lot of time left. Today is a big day to showcase the improvement guys have made.”
Rosen did just that.
Did he close the gap this week?
“That’s irrelevant in my head,” he said. “Just trying to compete with all the quarterbacks, but also try to compete on the field, have fun. Because the one thing that coach was stressing in the meeting was, we’ve put a lot of work in. Been a lot of really tough, hot, long training camp days.
“The scrimmage is supposed to be fun,” he added. “Football, it’s a game. We all have a job to do and we’re taking it seriously, but I was excited to come out here and have fun, play football.”
It didn’t seem much fun at all for Fitzpatrick, whom Howard picked off twice — both on terrible throws.
Right after Fitzpatrick’s second interception, which came during a two-minute drill, Flores sent in Rosen with the first team for the only time all day, and one of the few times all camp.
Rosen responded, directing a touchdown drive (with a little luck).
With deep completions to Preston Williams and Kenny Stills, Rosen was the only quarterback Saturday to successfully challenge the Dolphins’ secondary in general — and Xavien Howard in particular.
In a simulated end-of-game situation, Rosen connected with Stills on a completion in excess of 40 yards, with Stills going up and over Howard to make the catch.
The next play was technically a touchdown on Howard to Preston Williams, but it was in fact Rosen’s worst (and perhaps only bad) throw of the day. He went to Williams in the corner of the end zone, but Howard was in perfect position to make his third pick of the game.
It went right through the Pro Bowl cornerback’s hands.
“Threw it really deep to Kenny and then got really lucky at the end, trying to sneak it in to Isaiah,” Rosen said, when asked to recap the touchdown drive. “That’s one of those plays where in retrospect, everyone says, ‘Oh, yeah, cool, it’s a touchdown.’ But it definitely should have been a pick and it’s definitely something I’ve got take. Realize it’s first-and-goal in the low red zone and got to be smarter than that.”
The Dolphins across the board needed to be smarter Saturday. They were sloppier than this weekend’s weather.
The offense alone committed no fewer than 15 penalties, blowing up drives and erasing some of Rosen’s prettier throws.
“It was just kinda a nice measuring stick of where we’re at, especially offensively and it wasn’t good enough,” Fitzpatrick said. “We had a nice drive, scored a touchdown, and after that really didn’t do anything all day. There’s a lot of stuff that we can continue to work at and get better it. But that’s the ebbs and flows of training camp. We have to continue to get better now before the first game.”
Rosen has improved over the the past week. And he has four preseason games plus a bunch of practices to win the job.
“My theme is to make the next day better than the previous, and I think today was better than our last practice two days ago, so I think it’s just about sort of stacking the next one and making sure it’s better than this one,” Rosen said.