Miami Dolphins

Dolphins’ offense again more efficient with Rosen under center than Fitzpatrick

Miami Dolphins QB Josh Rosen discusses what he needs to improve

Miami Dolphins quarterback Josh Rosen discusses what he needs to work on before the next preseason game following the team's preseason loss to Tampa Bay on August 16, 2019.
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Miami Dolphins quarterback Josh Rosen discusses what he needs to work on before the next preseason game following the team's preseason loss to Tampa Bay on August 16, 2019.

Hold off on the Preston Williams Canton bust.

Your definitive quarterback takes.

And any South Florida real estate acquisitions by Jaryd Jones-Smith.

Friday night’s Dolphins-Buccaneers game wasn’t exciting.

But it was revealing.

Williams, the flavor of the month for Dolphins fans desperate for hope, had a bad night.

Rosen was pretty decent — when he wasn’t eating grass or throwing to the wrong team — but did he do enough to eclipse Ryan Fitzpatrick?

As for Jones-Smith, who played a lot at left tackle for Miami, he was pretty brutal. The backup left tackle was only on the field with the starters because Laremy Tunsil’s night was short and Zach Sterup and Jordan Mills didn’t play at all.

The interior blocking wasn’t much better. Michael Deiter and Shaq Calhoun had another rough night.

“There are some growing pains, for sure,” center Daniel Kilgore said. “That transition from college to the league is a big jump, but they’re handling it well. I’m really impressed with how they just come in and grind every day, and they’re getting better.”

Back to the quarterbacks: Rosen got the start after working with the first team in the joint practices with Tampa Bay Tuesday and Wednesday.

His completed 10 of 18 passes for 102 yards, going the entire half.

He “played well, made some good decisions out there,” Brian Flores said at halftime.

But he never really got into a rhythm, partly because of leaky pass protection, partly because of butter fingers, and partly because of bad throws.

The Dolphins had six first-half possessions. None covered more than 36 yards. The Dolphins converted just one of eight third-down tries. The Dolphins rushed the ball nine times. And gained 21 yards (2.3 per).

Yes, Rosen showed at times why he comes with such promise, particularly when he escaped pressure, rolled out and fired a sideline strike to Durham Smythe. (In other words, making a throw that Ryan Tannehill seldom could.)

But he also showed why he hasn’t arrived, offering up what should have been a gift interception to Jamel Dean on an under-thrown ball to Williams. (Dean dropped the pop fly.)

He also couldn’t get the Dolphins into the end zone, despite four goal-to-go chances. Flores went for it on fourth down from the 2, and Rosen had Isaiah Ford open for a touchdown, but skipped the pass.

But again, it’s not like Rosen got a ton of help. Williams had just one catch on six targets, dropping two balls and seeing a third jarred loose on a thundering hit across the middle.

And the pass protection was bad across the board — but really bad at times when Jones-Smith was asked to block one-on-one. The Dolphins don’t have a great plan — or even a good one — if Tunsil goes down at some point.

In other words, Rosen endured the type of game that could have produced some of the bad body language that irritated Flores on Tuesday.

Not so on Friday, however.

“He was into the game,” Flores said. “He was ready to go. I thought he did a good job in the huddle, getting the play calls in. I thought he played well from that standpoint.”

Flores added: “I thought he played well, made some good decisions out there. I would like to not see him take as many sacks; but I thought he threw the ball well, had some drops – that didn’t help him. But I thought overall, he played well.”

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Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) as they play the Tampa Bay Bucs at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, Friday, August, 16, 2019. CHARLES TRAINOR JR ctrainor@miamiherald.com

More importantly, he was better than Fitzpatrick, although it’s tough to really gauge much of anything from Fitzpatrick’s night considering he was playing with a bunch of guys who will largely be unemployed in two weeks.

But it has to be at least somewhat concerning that Fitzpatrick — who completed 3 of 9 passes for 20 yards — hasn’t been able to move the offense in two preseason games now. The Dolphins have managed just three points in his five possessions. Fitzpatrick has gone 5 of 14 for 40 yards the last two weeks.

And it has to mean something that Rosen — who has produced 26 points in 11 preseason drives — has provided a spark to an offense that’s been largely lifeless.

But did he do enough on the Gulf Coast this week to permanently earn the starting job?

That answer could come as soon as next week.

Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores discusses why he started quarterback Josh Rosen against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Dolphins' second preseason game on August 16, 2019.

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