Even after Ryan Fitzpatrick’s struggles the first two weeks of the season, Dolphins coach Brian Flores simply didn’t want to hand the job to Josh Rosen. So he allowed Fitzpatrick and Rosen to compete this week, each getting comparable work in practice on Wednesday and Thursday.
And what Flores witnessed was enough to convince him that Rosen is ready to take over Miami’s starting quarterback job.
“We liked where Josh was,” Flores said Friday, confirming that Rosen would start Sunday at Dallas. “He had two good days of practice. We decided to make the move. He had a good practice yesterday. It wasn’t just the two practices, he had been practicing well up to this point. We felt like that was the right move for the team.”
Flores added: “He made some good throws. He had good practices. I think he maybe saw an opportunity and jumped at it, practiced really well. ... His development is very important to me. I never wanted to throw him in there too quickly, but I do think he’s ready. He’s shown me that he’s ready to go.”
Two weeks ago, the Dolphins believed Rosen wasn’t quite polished enough at reading defenses, including the requirement in this system that he identify the mike linebacker before plays — something he had never done before in his life.
But in those areas, “there’s been a lot of improvement,” Flores said. “That’s something we’ve focused on since he got here — reading defenses, making quick decisions, pushing the ball downfield when it’s the right time to do it, getting in and out of the huddle, managing the game correctly. Mentally, he’s processing all of that a little bit better. He’s ready to go.”
This won’t be Rosen’s first work of the season. He entered in the second half of each of the first two games and completed 9 of 21 passes for 102 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions and a 14.5 passer rating. But he had at least two deep passes dropped.
For his career — including 13 starts for Arizona as a rookie last season — he now his 11 touchdown passes, 16 interceptions and a 64.1 passer rating.
The question is whether Rosen will get enough time to throw behind an offensive line featuring two starters who weren’t here a month ago (J’Marcus Webb and Danny Isidora), a guard playing left tackle (Jesse Davis), a rookie guard (Michael Deiter) and center Daniel Kilgore. Miami has given up 10 sacks in the first two weeks, with the running backs and tight ends also malfunctioning in pass protection.
“Every week that’s at the top of our priority list, protecting the quarterback,” Flores said. “I’m confident we will protect him. It’s a tall order. They’ve got a really good rush. We’ll do everything possible to get him protected. It’s a tall task but I think this team is up for that.”
Rosen of course was excited for the opportunity, and told reporters said Friday that “it’s only a matter of time” until the Dolphins’ offense takes a big step forward.
“Obviously right now we need a spark and I’m going to try and provide that spark but not by doing anything crazy out of the ordinary from what I’ve done that’s got me up to this point in my career,” Rosen added.
“I think it’s a really complex system coming from New England. I’m hoping and rooting for dramatic improvement but I don’t think we’re going to go out and score a hundred touchdowns and throw for a million yards. I think the key is just to keep grinding away, don’t do anything drastically different from what we’ve been doing to address the process and just continually try to get better and better over time.”
The change in quarterbacks was inevitable. Fitzpatrick threw one touchdown and four interceptions and had a league worst 39.9 rating while throwing for just 274 yards and producing just one touchdown in two games.
“Ryan was disappointed [about losing his starting job],” Flores said. “He’s a competitor. He wants to play. The way he’s handled this has been impressive. He’s grabbed Josh, got him on the whiteboard, [asked him]. what do you think of this and that. Talking him through protections and QB processes. That’s been really encouraging.
“It’s a tough situation. A lot of guys would be angry. Here’s a guy who’s so selfless and his willingness to put the team first - I’m really impressed by that.”