Here’s the best way to digest the Miami Dolphins’ decision at quarterback:
Josh Rosen might have the better tools.
But Ryan Fitzpatrick is a better leader.
No Dolphins coach will say it so explicitly, but the subtext has been obvious since Brian Flores named Fitzpatrick the starter last week.
Take, for instance, Chad O’Shea’s response to our question Tuesday about why Fitzpatrick gives the Dolphins a better chance to win:
“I think that Ryan — and this is just speaking of Ryan — he’s done a real good job with his leadership. He’s done a real good job with his communication. He’s an experienced player that has done a lot of the things that we want in a quarterback. He’s done well. I’m excited to see him play. I know that he’s going to rely heavily on the guys around him in this game, and they need to play well for him to play well.”
O’Shea added: “It just doesn’t fall on him; but certainly, I’ve been impressed with his leadership and his overall consistency as a leader, and as a person, I think that that’s something — he’s had some ups and downs in training camp and through the offseason, but he’s really done a good job of having some mental toughness and being very steady in his approach and consistent in his work ethic. Those are things I think Ryan brings — great intangibles. I think that’s something that’s been really good to see in him.”
With 31 new players from 2018 and by far the youngest roster in the league, growing pains aren’t just a likelihood. They’re a certainty. The Dolphins hope Fitzpatrick’s temperament and experience will be able to keep things together.
So what does Rosen — a physically gifted, top-10 pick who lost the competition to a 15-year journeyman with few other starting opportunities — need to do to get on the field?
First off, clean up some fundamentals. But that’s only the start.
“Josh is — as we’ve talked about — he’s still learning the offense,” he continued. “He’s doing a good job on all of the things that aren’t the physical the part of the game he’s improving on, whether it be his awareness on the field, his overall familiarity with the offense, his fundamentals that he needs to work on, just like all the other players need to work on.
“I would say we’re pleased with his progress as far as that,” O’Shea continued. “He’s embraced our coaching. He’s embraced the offense. He’s trying to get better on a daily basis. He’s had a good week so far in his preparation and on the practice field, so that’s all we can ask.”
It’s important to note that O’Shea insisted that Rosen doesn’t lack leadership skills. But he again pointed out that it was one of Fitzpatrick’s strengths.
“All we’re asking [Rosen] to do is try to improve and certainly, we all know he’s got a lot of ability, and we’re excited about him being on our roster,” O’Shea continued. “I’m glad he’s here. I think that ‘Fitz’ has provided some things because of his experience and his overall exposures to different defenses and his familiarity to the offensive scheme and some other things that have been helpful in his development years being a starting quarterback.”