A six-pack of Dolphins/NFL notes on a Wednesday night:
▪ In the wake of the Josh Rosen trade, Brian Flores said what you would expect a coach to say: He must earn the starting job.
“When Josh gets here, he’s got to compete for any type of role that he has here. That’s the case for everyone in the building,” Flores said. “The guys who produce on the practice field and do all the things that help this team win -- those are the guys who will play.”
But let’s be real: Allocating any regular-season snaps to Ryan Fitzpatrick will run counter to what should be Miami’s No. 1 priority this season: Determining whether Rosen is its quarterback of the future.
That’s why NFL Network lead host Rich Eisen and lead draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah were skeptical of Flores’ “competition” comments in an interesting conversation on The Rich Eisen Show this week.
“Come on, come on!” Jeremiah said of Flores claiming there would be a competition. “One aspect we didn’t get a chance to jump too far into [during their NFL Network draft coverage together] is it’s an evaluation year of Josh Rosen. He has to start week one. Even [general manager] Chris Grier came out and said it the other day, that there’s nothing in that [Rosen trade] that would stop them from taking one next year if they deemed that the right thing to do.”
Jeremiah added that “some people are saying, ‘Oh man! Could this happen to Josh Rosen two years in a row where you get the chance to play and the next year the No. 1 overall pick replaces you?’
“And that’s absolutely possible. But they have to get him out there for an entire season so they can get a fair evaluation. And if it’s not good enough, they will not hesitate to take [a quarterback] the following year. I’m hopeful for him he will find some stability, find some success. That would be the luxury of all luxuries. Now that they’ve collected all these picks next year, to not have to use one on a quarterback would be the best thing for them.”
▪ Jeremiah insists that if he were ranking the quarterbacks in the 2018 draft and the 2019 draft – even with what he knows now about the 2018 class – he would rank three from the 2018 class (including Rosen) ahead of any in the 2019 class.
Eisen noted that with Miami trading the 62nd pick for Rosen, that would technically slot him as the fifth quarterback acquired this past weekend – behind Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones, Dwayne Haskins and Drew Lock.
“Would this order have been the order [to place Rosen] behind four quarterbacks [drafted last weekend]? Not for me,” Jeremiah said of a hypothetical in which Rosen were actually in this year’s draft.
“Not for me. I would take my top three from last year – [Sam] Darnold, Rosen, [Baker] Mayfield, I would take those three guys over anyone in this year’s class.
“I know recency bias and see [that] Josh didn’t play great in that mess of a situation he found himself in [with Arizona]. But that doesn’t erase to me what I saw coming into the process, into the draft last year. He is a very talented thrower. He just needs some stability.”
▪ More Rosen feedback, via Wednesday’s Joe Rose Show on WQAM-560, from Fox college and NFL analyst Brady Quinn, the former NFL quarterback who has called several of Rosen’s games at UCLA and with the Arizona Cardinals:
“He’s one of the more talented passers coming into the league,” Quinn said. “I called a number of his games at UCLA. You’ve got a guy with a lot of upside at minimal cost. You are getting a player with a little bit of NFL seasoning. I called a couple of Arizona Cardinals games, vs. Detroit and Seattle. That team was decimated; they had two [offensive linemen in those games signed off the streets within the previous two weeks].
“On top of that, [offensive coordinator] Mike McCoy was fired [seven] weeks into the season. Byron Leftwich takes over and he hadn’t called plays before. ...You couldn’t have drawn up a worse scenario to put a rookie into and ask him to win games. Last year you can throw out a little bit. He showed a lot of toughness, a lot of ability on a team without a lot of tools around him. I’ve got a lot of optimism about what he could be for the Dolphins.
“For all the people who want to criticize him - Steve Smith Sr. knows literally nothing about him. He’s hyper-competitive... I don’t have any reservations about this guy being a good teammate.”
▪ We hear one player the Dolphins had interest in drafting, had they successfully moved down from 13th in the first round, was Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, who went 19th to the Tennessee Titans. But the Dolphins were thrilled with Christian Wilkins at 13.
▪ Some interesting tidbits from a Wall Street Journal story on how Wilkins is very careful with his money:
Instead of paying for lemonade, he asks for water, six lemon slices and sugar, and then makes his own.
He ate, showered and brushed his teeth at Clemson’s football operations center to hold down costs at his $300 a month apartment.
He didn’t have a credit card, used a bike and got rides from teammates (while helping pay for gas) instead of owning a car. He also wore some teammates’ clothes.
“My teammates know I’m the cheapest guy in the world,” he told the WSJ’s Rachel Bachman before the draft.
And he worked as a substitute teacher, earning $80 a day.
Wilkins’ frugality has paid off: He said he has saved more than $15,000 during an era when many young people are facing heavy student debt.
What’s more, he has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in athletic leadership. This past December, he won the National Football Foundation’s Campbell Trophy, known as the “Academic Heisman.”
▪ After failing to land Peyton Manning, ESPN won’t replace Jason Witten in its Monday Night Football booth.
Former NFL defensive lineman Booger McFarland, who spent most of last season doing field-level analysis work before moving to ESPN’s booth for a wild-card playoff telecast, will be the sole analyst on MNF, alongside play-by-play man Joe Tessitore.
Witten decided to leave broadcasting after a season to return to the Dallas Cowboys.
The belief here is that ESPN should have shifted exceptional studio analyst Louis Riddick to the booth. McFarland is competent, but ESPN’s booth appears to be the weakest among the four networks’ lead announcing teams.
“Booger’s insight, personality and passion for the game make him the right person for the job,” ESPN executive Stephanie Druley said. “He and Joe have been close friends since they helped ESPN launch the SEC Network five years ago. Their chemistry together in the booth – and with [sideline reporter Lisa Salters] – will give us a team that fans want to spend Monday nights with this fall.”
ESPN’s MNF schedule includes Dolphins at Steelers on Oct. 28.
Manning declined overtures to join the MNF booth but will do a 30-episode documentary series for ESPN-plus (the network’s streaming service) in which he interviews former NFL players, coaches and other key figures about football history and its cultural impact.
The series, which debuts in mid-July, is part of ESPN’s celebration of the NFL’s 100th season, produced by NFL Films in collaboration with ESPN plus.
Here’s my Wednesday piece with the word on what the Dolphins are getting with their undrafted rookie signings on defense.
Here’s my Wednesday piece on three cuts by the Dolphins.