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What are the Dolphins doing? The curious case of a starting QB and does it really matter?

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Miami Dolphins Training Camp Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

If you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks. The fans’ favorite player is the backup quarterback. Whatever other cliche you are thinking. For the Miami Dolphins, they could all be true - but do they matter?

The Dolphins are expected to start quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on Thursday against the Jacksonville Jaguars with Josh Rosen working as the backup. With the third preseason game typically used as a “dress rehearsal” for the regular season, the speculation now says Fitzpatrick will also be the starter for the team’s Week 1 contest when the regular season starts.

Dave Hyde from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel wrote on Saturday, “...Fitzpatrick being announced to start the third game of the preseason and, by connect-the-dots extension, the Miami Dolphins regular season at quarterback...”

Twitter has largely had the same kind of reaction to the news that Fitzpatrick will likely start Thursday. Except, it really does not matter. Thursday’s starter does not matter. Even Week 1’s starter does not matter.

The 2020 starter is what matters.

If Thursday’s start for Fitzpatrick turns into a Week 1 start for the veteran and that turns into 16 starts, then you have your answer on Rosen.

If Rosen starts Week 1 and that turns into 16 starts, then you have your answer.

If Fitzpatrick starts four games, six games, eight games, then Rosen starts the rest, then you have your answer.

The starter this week, three weeks from now, ten weeks from now does not matter. The 2020 starts does. If Rosen beats our Fitzpatrick, you have a sign he could be the 2020 starter. If Rosen never shows he is ready to be a starter, you know you are heading into 2020 planning on selecting a quarterback.

Everything that happens and who plays when will give Miami their answer for 2020.

The Dolphins coaches realize, once Rosen is named the starter, Fitzpatrick is done for the year unless there is an injury. If the team struggles under Rosen, you understand that they are developing their younger players and trying to get a read on the quarterback. There is hope that they are moving toward the future. If they start Fitzpatrick and then move to Rosen, then move back - or if they start Rosen in Week 1 and then move to Fitzpatrick later in the year - you have taken away the hope that something better is coming, and you are resigning your fan base to a potentially miserable year.

When did the Dolphins’ rebuild plan change from 2020 as the goal to 2019? Why is there so much talk about having to win now? Why are the media, after months of talking about the Dolphins trying to win too much in a “tanking” year, suddenly now up in arms that the team may lose too much?

This year is a year for Miami to try to find an identity. It is a year of younger players - like Minkah Fitzpatrick, Xavien Howard, Christian Wilkins, Jerome Baker, Michael Deiter, Shaq Calhoun, Preston Williams, and maybe Rosen - getting experience and showing they are the cornerstone of this franchise’s rebuild.

If Rosen claims the starting job, then maybe he can prove he is the starter in Week 1 of 2020 and Miami can use their first-round pick on a different position. If he never beats out Fitzpatrick, or he is thrown into the starting role and does not perform, then we know a first-round pick will likely be the starter in 2020.

After years of hearing how Ryan Tannehill was just given the starting job and never had to compete, why is competition now a problem?

Who starts Thursday, who starts Week 1, and who starts throughout the year does not matter. Who starts Week 1 of 2020 is the question that has to be answered, and every snap, every start, ever practice between now and then is simply working toward that answer.

Rosen not playing is as much an answer to that question as if he is playing. The Dolphins coaches will see Rosen and they will be ready to start him when they want to start him.

On Monday, head coach Brian Flores told the media that, even with Fitzpatrick named the starter for Thursday’s preseason game, that does not mean anything has been decided for Week 1 of the regular season. Maybe Rosen can claim the job. Maybe the coaches will start Fitzpatrick no matter what, because the move from the veteran to the second-year player brings with it hope. Whatever the case, the starting quarterback for the Dolphins in 2019 does not matter.

The starting quarterback for 2020 does.

And if Rosen is the starter in 2019, maybe you have your 2020 starter. If Rosen cannot start or cannot find success in 2019, then you know you will be picking early and get your 2020 starter that way.

The starting quarterback in 2020 is the only question that needs to be answered.