The Miami Dolphins seem to have a choice of how to position the Josh Rosen acquisition: They can tell us he’s their starter and he’s got to produce in 2019 because the team just invested a second-round pick to acquire him and he might not get another chance next year -- all of which is true ...
...Or the Dolphins can tell us Rosen comes to South Florida merely to compete with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and if the produces, great, and if he doesn’t, that’s fine because they’ll be picking another quarterback in the draft next year, anyway.
But here’s the surprise: The team can choose both narratives.
The unvarnished truth about Rosen now that he’s Dolphins property is that he’s on the clock. He has one year to prove to the coaching staff, ownership and fans that he should be the team’s franchise quarterback for years to come.
And because there’s urgency to figure that out within the next 10-12 months, Rosen should be the starter.
Because giving Rosen more practice repetitions, more starts, more exposure would give the team the best chance to author an accurate evaluation on him after the season ends.
Also this: Miami just paid a 2019 second-round pick as well as a 2020 fifth round pick for Rosen. Paying that price demands Rosen be the starter.
Rosen certainly seems excited about the prospect of joining the Dolphins.
“I couldn’t be more excited to become a Dolphin,” he said on an Instagram post. “I’m ready to attack this new chapter in my life and give you guys everything I have each and every day. My bags are packed. I’m on a flight first thing tomorrow morning. Get ready South Florida and Go Fins.”
But in the unorthodox situation the Dolphins find themselves this year, they can actually get away with saying there is no such pressure on the team to start Rosen.
“If you step into this building, you got to be ready to compete,” coach Brian Flores said Saturday. “So Josh has to compete for the role he has here. That’s really the case for everyone that enters the building ... You step into this building, it’s about competition. Josh will come in and compete. There’s no starters. And the guys who produce on the practice field and do the things that help this team win, those are the guys who are going to play.”
The reason Flores and Grier can say this and mean it is because in many respects the Dolphins view Rosen as a “flier,” a source said Saturday. He’s the personification of the team taking a gamble -- even
“We didn’t go out saying he’s got to be a franchise quarterback for us,” Grier said. “For us it was he’s a very talented young player. He’s got a lot of upside in this league and the value and taking on the contract, for us the value was tremendous that we couldn’t afford to pass up.”
So no pressure. Because if Rosen produces everyone will look like a genius.
And if he doesn’t, everyone who thought Rosen was a worthwhile addition will have the cover of the 2020 draft -- when Miami would try to vault as high as possible in the first round to draft a franchise quarterback.
The Dolphins see little downside to Rosen despite the draft picks investment.
So what happens next?
Rosen will join the team’s offseason conditioning program and when he gets on the field this spring and summer, you should expect him to be amazing. Because, according to a source on last year’s Arizona Cardinals coaching staff, Rosen was often amazing in practices and workouts.
All the gifts that suggest Rosen is an elite passer were evident then.
But, that source warned, things changed once the hitting went live. Suddenly, in games, Rosen wasn’t as accurate or willing to stand in the pocket or able to quickly find open receivers, he said.
The Dolphins acknowledge there are criticisms about Rosen’s makeup -- fair or not -- that he is not a leader and can be off-putting and alienates some people.
But the Dolphins, aware of the reputation, are making no judgments on that now.
“I think you never really get to know a person until you’re sitting with him every day,” Flores said. “Which we’ll get that opportunity. I think he’s smart, he works hard, football’s important to him and I think he’s got an opportunity just like all the other players here. He’s going to come in here and help this team win games. And really, that’s what it boils down to.”
Grier said he’s gotten phone calls from people around the league addressing Rosen’s personality.
“The work we’ve done -- and we’ve talked to people we both know -- and coaches unsolicited have called us that know him, that have worked with him and say a lot of that stuff is B.S.,” Grier said.
“And so for us, we don’t know him because we don’t have our hands on him. We’re going with the people we trust and know. And the coaches and scouts in the building that have called people have said this is really a good kid that’s smart. And maybe he has some other interests like following the stock market or something.
“He’s really smart but he loves football. He studies it. And it’s really important to him and he has a chip on his shoulder now.”
There were a lot of minds and eyes brought to bear on this decision. There was not a unanimous opinion on Rosen during the various discussions. There was debate, a club source confirmed.
But, the source said, new offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea was an advocate for Rosen.
O’Shea apparently believes Rosen, at his best, can do the things the coach’s offense demands: Get the ball out quickly. Make intermediate throws between the hashes, sometimes out of two tight end sets.
And O’Shea’s opinion prevailed.
Soon the Dolphins will meet Rosen and know what he can do. What he’s really about. And exactly what role he’ll fill.