Armando Salguero

What are Dolphins seeing (or missing) that keeps Josh Rosen from starting? | Opinion

Dolphins coach Brian Flores comments on quarterback Josh Rosen

Dolphins coach Brian Flores comments on quarterback Josh Rosen before practice at Baptist Health South Florida Training Facility in Davie on Saturday, August 3, 2019.
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Dolphins coach Brian Flores comments on quarterback Josh Rosen before practice at Baptist Health South Florida Training Facility in Davie on Saturday, August 3, 2019.

It’s probably not accurate to say Brian Flores utterly hates the idea of starting Josh Rosen in the regular-season opener on Sept. 8. That would be making a long reach at a conclusion based on circumstantial evidence.

But let’s be clear: The Dolphins coach has not embraced the idea at all so far.

He has shown no enthusiasm for it. No great excitement about the prospect. And no urgency to want to make it happen.

Josh Rosen will start games for the Miami Dolphins this year. It will happen.

History tells us presumed starter Ryan Fitzpatrick will enjoy and suffer from hot and cold streaks during his time as Miami’s starting quarterback. And the tundra moments and the losses that inevitably come with those could force Flores to insert Rosen.

Or the natural order of things could take over and Miami’s questionable pass protection could make the decision for everyone organically. One free rusher taking a shot to the starter’s ribs could force the lineup change.

(If you don’t think this is possible, watch the tape of Miami’s pass protection this preseason, especially Thursday night against Jacksonville, and you wi’ll understand this scenario is realistic).

But that aside, Flores hasn’t pushed the envelope in any way to make Rosen the Dolphins’ starter. In fact, everything the coach has said so far has suggested he’s going in the exact opposite direction.

Consider:

After Thursday night’s game in which Fitzpatrick struggled against the Jaguars’ starters and then both quarterbacks played much better against Jacksonville reserves, Flores was asked if Rosen had made the decision on whom to start more difficult.

“I think that’s pretty clear, clear and evident,” Flores replied. “But there’s — again, there’s other things at play here. Fitz played well, I thought, and there’s some things — when you’ve got a young quarterback, again, I’m a proponent of not rushing that, not rushing the process for young players.

“So we’ll make the decision for what we think is best for Josh, Fitz, and this team.”

Translation: Rosen did what he needed to do, but there are things the coaching staff sees that makes them uncomfortable with starting Rosen.

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And this answer is indicative of what we have heard for weeks, even after Rosen has delivered solid outings. Because those solid outings have often been followed by Flores criticisms.

After the first preseason game in which Rosen was more productive than Fitzpatrick, Flores focused on Rosen’s poor decision-making and struggles to make the “operation” of the offense smooth.

Rosen gambled on a pass to Preston Williams that was ultimately completed, but Flores called it “dicey,” and coaches talked to the quarterback about knowing when to take a sack rather than risk a turnover.

When the team was in Tampa, Flores was critical of Rosen’s “body language.”

He voiced this criticism unsolicited. No one asked him about it but, well, there it was. The coach questioning his quarterback’s demeanor.

And the next day, Flores was effusive about how good Fitzpatrick’s body language always seems to be.

In the last week, Flores has also made the point that investing the most possible starts and games on a young quarterback to see if he’s the future is not going to sway him to start Rosen before he (the coach) believes the time is right.

“I understand that thought process, but I’m the one dealing with the individual player, and sometimes guys just aren’t ready,” Flores said. “The whole sink-or-swim mentality, it’s easy for somebody on the outside to say; but for that individual player and the best interests of that individual person, that might not be the case.”

Are you seeing a theme here?

Everyone else is looking at this Dolphins competition and seeing a second-year quarterback who needs to play to improve outproducing a veteran who long-ago reached his ceiling and is not the future.

Everyone else is seeing Rosen’s potential, which can only be tapped if he’s allowed to play.

But the Dolphins, so far, look at this same picture and see the possibility for disaster. They talk of Rosen not being ready and how playing might not be in his best interests. So it might not be in a player’s best interest to, you know, play.

The inconsistency here is the Dolphins are applying this view uniquely to Rosen.

They don’t want to toss him into the pool’s deep end to see if he swims but they’ve tossed rookie guards Shaq Calhoun and Michael Deiter into that same pool even though neither is truly ready. They moved Bobby McCain from his familiar nickel cornerback spot to starting free safety without worrying if he’s ready. They’re playing second-year defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick out of position at strong safety at times this preseason and no one’s asked if he’s ready.

So what gives?

Why exactly do the Dolphins so far seem to dislike the idea of letting Josh Rosen start?

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