Miami Dolphins

Rosen sparks Dolphins after unimpressive night from Fitzpatrick. But will it matter?

OK, Brian Flores:

If not now, when?

And why not?

Flores will, very soon, announce the Dolphins’ starting quarterback for the start of the 2019 season.

And Miami’s coach will, very soon, run out of excuses to start Ryan Fitzpatrick over Josh Rosen, as most expect he will do.

Maybe Rosen doesn’t have the perfect “body language.” He certainly doesn’t have Fitzpatrick’s experience.

But Rosen — and not Fitzpatrick — has consistently done the two things this preseason that are most important:

Make a bunch of plays with his arm and legs and consistently get the ball into the end zone.

Need proof?

Just check out the game tape from Thursday night’s nationally televised yawner against the Jaguars, a 22-7 Miami victory at Hard Rock Stadium. It’s a tough watch, so feel free to fast-forward to five minutes left in the third quarter.

And watch Rosen, in his first action of the night, direct a 13-play, 99-yard touchdown drive in just under seven minutes.

Reminder: There are no 100-yard drives. So this is as good as it gets in pro football.

And Rosen was as good as it gets.

He completed 4 of 5 passes for 52 yards. He ran for 25 yards on two scrambles. He showed poise in a pocket that regularly crumbled.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) advances the ball to help setup a Fins fourth quarter touchdown as they play the Jacksonville Jaguars at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, Thursday, August, 22, 2019. CHARLES TRAINOR JR

And he showed command of an offense that is no longer beyond his ability.

Put another way, Rosen did in 13 plays what it took Fitzpatrick 14 drives to accomplish.

Fitzpatrick, who got the start Thursday and played into the third quarter, was basically flawless against the Jaguars’ third-stringers. He got the Dolphins into the end zone against those guys. He lifted his passer rating above 50 against those guys.

That’s the good news.

The bad: Fitzpatrick couldn’t do squat against guys named Jalen Ramsey and Josh Allen and Myles Jack.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) gets hit as he attempts to pass in the first quarter as the Miami Dolphins host the Jacksonville Jaguars at Hard Rock Stadium on Thursday, August 22, 2019. AL DIAZ

The really bad: The NFL regular season promises a lot more Ramseys and Allens and Jacks than it does the third-stringers Fitzpatrick rung up.

So as the Dolphins’ quarterback competition winds down — and if Troy Aikman is right, it’s already over — the prospect of an historically bad offensive season beckons, unless Fitzpatrick goes from tragic to magic.

Aikman, the Hall of Famer and Fox Sports color analyst, stated as fact on-air that Fitzpatrick has won the job (although the Dolphins insist he did not get that information from them).

But why?

Fitzpatrick’s only in-game success this summer came against the backup’s backups. Dolphins offenses managed just 15 points on his 14 possessions this preseason. He averaged 5.2 per attempt and managed a passer rating of 78.4 during the exhibition season.

And while Fitzpatrick’s Thursday night stat line — 12 of 18 for 126 yards and a score — wasn’t bad, those numbers were hollow.

His finish was far better than his start:

Three and out.

Three and out.

First down by penalty followed immediately by a stalled drive.

And then, gifted with a short field, a field goal — after one first down.

Granted, Fitzpatrick was not blessed with great, good or even mediocre pass protection.

Jesse Davis might be a decent guard. But he seems out of position at right tackle.

Jaguars rookie Josh Allen revealed that Thursday, with speed, strength and an array of moves that left Davis grasping in the air. When Allen wasn’t blowing up the pocket and flushing out Fitzpatrick, he was stalking running backs in the flat. He was the best player on the field for either team (at least until Rosen entered the game).

In truth, nobody on offense for the Dolphins was good.

The line, without left tackle Laremy Tunsil who was a healthy scratch, was a sieve.

And the stats were predictably awful.

The Dolphins in the first half:

Gained just 47 yards but were penalized for 63.

Went 0 of 6 on third down.

Averaged 2 yards per play

Had no drive longer than five plays or 25 yards.

Needed 17 carries to gain 12 yards.

Their two field goals came with great help.

The first was set up by an Eric Rowe interception on the plus side of the 50. And the second was possible only because of a roughing-the-passer penalty.

Now, if you’re a glass half-full type of person, there was plenty to drink.

The defense was excellent in the first half, allowing 126 yards and just one scoring drive — capped by a 10-yard touchdown pass from Nick Foles to Dede Westbrook, who got behind Bobby McCain on an out route.

Charles Harris was again active. Sam Eguavoen was again physical. And whomever Xavien Howard covered was again invisible.

They’re the Dolphins’ future.

And Rosen might be, too.

All he needs now is Flores’ faith.

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