Barry Jackson

Aikman, Jimmy Johnson share thoughts on Rosen, Dolphins

Some notable Dolphins commentary from Fox’s NFL announcers, with the lead Fox crew in town for Dolphins-Jaguars as part of logistic and promotional preparation for the network’s Super Bowl coverage at Hard Rock Stadium:

▪ If Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen end the Dolphins quarterback evaluation process about even, coach Brian Flores indicated Tuesday he feels no obligation to play the younger player (Rosen).

Fox analyst and former Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson indicated he would play the younger player in that scenario, but also can understand starting the season with Fitzpatrick. After speaking with Johnson about the state of the UM program on Wednesday, I asked him whether he would give Rosen all 16 games if he were making the decision for the Dolphins.

Johnson, of course, made his comments before Fitzpatrick was ineffective in the first half against Jacksonville Thursday but then led a TD drive to start the second half.

“You’ve got to play the guy that gives you the best chance to win and probably early, it would be Fitzpatrick because he’s not going to make the mistakes,” Johnson said. “But you’ve got to see Rosen. You have to play Rosen even if Rosen plays in a mop up role. If [it’s] close, go with the young guy and see if he can develop. One way or the other, Rosen has to see the field.”

▪ Troy Aikman initially said Fitzpatrick would start Week 1 of the regular season, but the Dolphins say they didn’t tell him that. Joe Buck called it “likely” that Fitzpatrick would start the opener against Baltimore.

“I’m not sure it’s not much of a competition,” Aikman said in the first half. “I just sense from the coaching staff they feel Rosen has got a little more learning to do before he’s ready to take over the reins.... I thought when they made the trade, he would be a day one starter.”

Late in the game, after Rosen had played well, Aikman said: “At some point, they do have to find out what they have with Rosen. At some point, they will. It doesn’t have to be Week 1. It’s smart bringing him along. That’s not to suggest he’ll light it up when he gets a chance to play.”

▪ Aikman - who, like Rosen, attended UCLA -said he’s watched Rosen in person since he was 19 and “he’s one of the most talented young throwers I’ve seen.”

▪ Aikman said “the criticism of him going back to high school was body language. I think the 10 players fed off what he was providing them in that area [on the Rosen-led 99 yard touchdown drive].”

▪ More Aikman, on Rosen: “If he plays here, this offensive line is not any better than the one he played behind last year at Arizona. If it’s him or Fitzpatrick, this quarterback is going to take a lot of hits. He’s going to take more hits than Fitzpatrick because he doesn’t move as well as Fitzpatrick. With that, you’re going to take a little more punishment.... You don’t give up what could be a franchise quarterback after one year.”

Aikman said “one thing Josh Rosen has had to do that he hasn’t had to do anywhere else -- He has to identify the mike [linebacker]. Viewers at home can hear him yell, ‘that’s the mike.’ That sets the protection for the offensive line and the blocking scheme for the offensive line. That’s on the quarterback in this scheme and that’s been an adjustment for him.”

▪ Aikman said Dolphins fans hoping to find their quarterback in the draft might be disappointed.

“That’s why it made sense to trade for Rosen,” he said. “They have time to evaluate a potential franchise quarterback. There’s a fan base in Miami that’s saying ‘What are we playing for this year. Let’s have a top pick and go out and get me one of the top quarterbacks in college right now.’

“Jacksonville thought that when they went out and [drafted] Blaine Gabbert 10th overall... and Blake Bortles third overall. It’s still a 50/50 proposition with these first-round picks.”

▪ And then there was this from Terry Bradshaw: “This is Rosen’s team. He has a great arm, great size. Dan Marino likes the way he’s coming around.”

▪ Aikman, on guard Shaq Calhoun: “He’s likely going to be the starter. And it’s asking a lot. He’s going to get exposed at times, and with that, there are going to be holding penalties.”

▪ Aikman said Jim Caldwell, who left his Dolphins coaching position to deal with an undisclosed health issue, “is very much missed” - both by the quarterbacks and for Flores with game management decisions.

▪ We previously reported that Miami had inquired about Houston outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney - who’s holding out for a new contract - and Fox’s Jay Glazer said the Dolphins are among 10 teams that have inquired about trading for him and called as recently as last week.

But the Dolphins would be reluctant to give up a high draft pick in case it needs that pick to move up in the draft for a quarterback, as colleague Armando Salguero and I have been told.

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