The Miami Dolphins veterans open training camp on July 24, meaning we are exactly 24 days away from the start of camp and all of them team in Florida preparing for the regular season. Over the next 24 days, I will select one topic to discuss as a preview of camp. Today, we start with the most obvious camp storyline for the Dolphins - the quarterback position.
Miami traded quarterback Ryan Tannehill to the Tennessee Titans this offseason, ending the era of the team’s 2012 first-round draft pick. The Dolphins are believed to be looking toward 2020 to select a “franchise” quarterback, but they could already have their answer on the roster.
With Tannehill gone, the Dolphins added veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick. A seventh-round pick in 2005, Fitzpatrick comes to Miami after playing for the St. Louis Rams, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans, New York Jets, and the last two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has thrown for 29,357 yards in his career on a 60.1-percent completion rate with 190 touchdowns and 148 interceptions for an 81.1 career passer rating. He was signed to be the bridge quarterback from Tannehill to whomever the Dolphins add in 2020.
Except, they added a player this year who could be the future of the team. The Arizona Cardinals selected Kyler Murray with the first-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, a year after using the tenth-overall pick on Josh Rosen. The selection of Murray forced the Cardinals to look for a trade partner to take on Rosen, and the Dolphins were able to add the 22-year-old quarterback. During a bad rookie campaign - on a really bad Arizona team - Rosen threw for 2,278 yards in 14 games (13 starts) with a 55.2-percent completion rate with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions and a 66.7 passer rating.
The best part of Rosen’s second season in the NFL may just be getting out of Arizona.
The Dolphins are not projected to be a good team in 2019, with several media and oddmaker types placing Miami as the favorite for the first-overall pick in 2020, but the Dolphins may not be as bad as people expect - and that may come from the position battle featuring Fitzpatrick and Rosen. Fitzpatrick is the solid veteran who can keep the team moving forward even if they struggle. He is the player who can put up the “Fitzmagic” three touchdown pass game - four times in 2018. He is also the player who can put up the “Fitztragic” three interception game - twice in 2018. He is going to find a way to win some games the Dolphins should lose, but lose same games the Dolphins should win.
Rosen is the question mark, looking to prove his rookie season was one bad year, but he is a good quarterback. He was seen as the most pro-ready passer in the 2018 draft and now he has to prove it. He was behind Fitzpatrick during the Dolphins’ offseason training program Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamps, but he was also playing catchup on the playbook, while Fitzpatrick has more experience in learning a new set of terminology and schemes over 15 years in the league. The real tests will come in training camp and the preseason.
The Dolphins are going to need to see Rosen play so they can get an idea of if they need to draft a quarterback in 2020, or if they managed to land their franchise quarterback via a trade in the second round of the 2019 Draft. Can Rosen surpass Fitzpatrick in camp?
Miami’s future could depend on the answer to that question.