Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores said Wednesday he will start Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback against the Buffalo Bills, meaning the team is benching Josh Rosen and going back to the man who started the first two games of the season.
This is what that means:
Firstly, it is now fair to say the trade for Rosen was not a good one.
The Dolphins gave up a second- and a fifth-round pick last April in hopes Rosen would develop into a good player for them.
He’s not a good player, folks.
He has been bad. He has completed only 53.2 percent of his passes in three starts. and mop-up duty in two other games He has thrown five interceptions against only one touchdown pass.
Rosen fans will say he is in an impossible situation. There’s no way he could succeed with the cast he has surrounding him. There is some truth to this.
But it is also true when everything has been favorable, Rosen has still struggled. The two interceptions he threw Sunday against Washington came on plays where he had time to throw and make a good decision.
I’ve been told that several of the 16 sacks Rosen has taken this year were the result of him failing to make a quick decision or getting a good pre-snap read that could lead to an on-time throw. He has been part of the problem.
Also, Fitzpatrick has been thrown in similar situations and played better than Rosen despite the same problems happening with protection or a poor running game or receivers dropping passes. The Washington game was eye-opening, not only because Fitzpatrick played better ...
.... But because Fitzpatrick somehow got players around him to play better. The same players who seemed to be going through motions when Rosen was in the game played with spark for Fitzpatrick.
A quarterback’s job, in no small part, is to raise the play of the offense. To raise other players around him. Rosen has not necessarily been doing that.
Dolphins fans want to continue to see Rosen play because maybe he might finally deliver a good game or because they want the team to get a good evaluation on him.
Fact: Either quarterback playing the Bills No. 4 defense — the one that limited Tom Brady to one touchdown a few weeks ago — is likely to struggle on Sunday. So in some small way, the Dolphins are doing Rosen a favor.
As to the evaluation question: Flores swats that thinking away like it’s an insect.
“I would say I think by now, we’ve got a pretty good evaluation of him,” Flores said this week. “We’ve had him since April and all of OTAs, all of training camp, three starts and the guy’s developed to get better. As far as the development part of that, I don’t think that’s necessarily a part of it. It’s more what we feel is the best for the team.”
So the Dolphins believe they have a “pretty good evaluation” on Rosen, he has just been benched, and I’ve reported a jillion times they’re drafting a QB No. 1 next year. So it is fair to infer the Dolphins aren’t expecting Rosen to be their forever guy.
And that means the second- and fifth-round pick the team used on Rosen were misspent. That trade is destined to join the Dolphins’ long history of wasting second round picks on quarterbacks.
Those wasted picks: Daunte Culpepper in a trade, A.J. Feeley in a trade, Rosen in a trade, John Beck, Pat White, Chad Henne and Guy Benjamin in the draft.
Secondly, it means Flores is not in on the tank job the Dolphins are perpetrating in 2019 — something he has insisted he and his players have not been doing.
Look, in the NFL the head coach is responsible for giving his team the best chance to win. If Flores had played Rosen after a tough span of games and a horrible three quarters last week against the Washington Redskins, Flores would have lost the confidence and respect of his locker room.
Miami’s players see who is playing better. They see who gives them the best chance to succeed. That is Fitzpatrick.
Miami players are aware if the coach is practicing what he preaches. Moreover, this decision has lasting effects on the Dolphins as an organization because next spring, when they are trying to sign unrestricted free agents, Flores can sincerely tell those guys Miami is recruiting that he is all about winning and has always been all about winning — even in the face of a difficult 2019 season.
Thirdly, if you’re concerned about the timing of the decision to go with Fitzpatrick over Rosen, I think it was a smart move.
On Sunday evening, after the 17-16 loss to the Washington Redskins, Flores said his starter was Rosen.
On Monday afternoon, the coach repeated the starter is Rosen.
But on Wednesday the change was announced to Fitzpatrick.
And here’s the interesting thing: NFL coaches playing on Sunday put a majority of their game plans together on Tuesday. So Flores waited for the Bills to get their defensive game plan together for Rosen before making the announcement on Fitzpatrick.
“Us getting ready at this point for Ryan Fitzpatrick,” Buffalo coach Sean McDermott said, “[He’s a] good quarterback, experienced, brings good energy, can make every throw.
“He’s a guy the first two games he played the score got away from them, so what he can do or not do got lost in that small sample. We have a lot of respect for Ryan.”