Tuesday has provided Dolphins fans and media with clarification and progress on two big training camp storylines.
Let’s break ‘em down.
Leader in the Quarterback Competition
A clear front-runner has emerged in Miami’s QB race.
In a press conference Tuesday morning, Dolphins head coach Brian Flores named a clear front-runner in the team’s competition for a starting quarterback, and so far, it’s the wily veteran who’s in the lead. “It’s pretty clear to me that Ryan Fitzpatrick is leading the way,” Flores told the press, per Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald. “He’s been more productive. At the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to... Ryan’s done a really good job.”
This is the first time that Flores has conceded to there being a player in the lead for the starting gig. That being said, training camp has only just begun, which is the primary reason that Flores held off in naming a front-runner through OTAs and minicamp. There’s still plenty of time for things to change.
It’s also important to note that Flores has stated outright that he likes to play mind games with his players in the name of motivation. This could just be a tactic to further spur on Josh Rosen and get the most out of the sophomore signal-caller. It’s true that Rosen already has a tremendous chip on his shoulder given his unceremonious trade out of Arizona and high draft selection status, but adding more fuel to the fire couldn’t hurt. Fitzpatrick has been the better player thus far in camp, and while most reporters have been saying that since OTAs, now so has Rosen’s head coach. If the young QB doesn’t see that as motivation, he’s not playing in the right league.
This is also where I’ll make sure to point out that Flores declaring Fitzpatrick as the front-runner isn’t an indictment of Rosen. Fitzpatrick has far more experience adjusting to new offenses given the almost 15 years of professional football under his belt and the fact that he’s on his eighth NFL team, meaning at this early stage in training camp, it’s no surprise that Rosen is slightly behind. It’s also important to remember that Fitzpatrick is no measly veteran backup. He has 126 games of starting experience. He didn’t come to Miami with plans of being a backup. This is a true competition, and one that Rosen must fight to win. It won’t be handed to him. Flores has made that clear.
Major O-Line Changes
A coaching change is not the only alteration we’re seeing in the offensive line room. After Flores relieved offensive line coach Pat Flaherty of his duties on Monday, Flaherty’s replacement, Dave DeGuglielmo, wasted no time implementing his own plans for the unit.
To start camp last week, we saw a lineup of Laremy Tunsil (LT), Chris Reed (LG), Daniel Kilgore (C), Jesse Davis (RG), and Jordan Mills (RT). Today, we’re seeing three changes to that lineup. Taking the field with the first team is Laremy Tunsil (LT), rookie third-round draft pick Michael Deiter (RG), Daniel Kilgore (C), Will Holden (RG), and Jesse Davis (RT) back at the position where he’s had the most NFL success.
Only time will tell if this unit can make more progress on the practice field than Flaherty’s lineup. Don’t be surprised if more changes are made in the coming days to find the most cohesive combination possible on the front-five.
Want more Miami Dolphins news, updates, and analysis? Follow Justin Hier on Twitter @HierJustin.