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Should Dolphins Look For Another Ryan Fitzpatrick?

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Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins didn’t have a whole lot going for them during the 2019 season, but they did discover two important components of a winning franchise; they found their head coach of the future and their quarterback of the present. Brian Flores and Ryan Fitzpatrick collaborated last season to prevent another 1-15 disaster. Suffice it to say that these two guys provided a stabilizing influence on the team in 2019 that Cam Cameron and Cleo Lemon, in 2007, could not. They may have also found their backup QB, as well.

Many chuckled when the Dolphins traded for former UCLA and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen near the end of the second round of the draft last Spring. Those chuckles have become muffled roars. Just about everyone, other than a small contingent of die hard holdouts among the Dolphin faithful, understands that Rosen is not the long term answer at QB for Miami, or any other NFL team, for that matter. He was among the worst, if not the worst, quarterback in the league last season when throwing from a clean pocket. The ‘Rosa-A-Maniac’ faction of Dolphin fandom sort of reminds me of those Japanese soldiers who were found on various uninhabited Pacific islands years after WWII had ended, living in caves and still believing they were at war. I’m here to tell you that that the war’s over and you can come back to civilization. What Rosen is, and certainly still can be, is a viable candidate for a long term spot on the team as a valued backup. It actually wouldn’t surprise me if he eventually settled into a Don Strock type role with the team. Strock, as you may remember, was a backup QB for the Dolphins from 1973-87, which I believe is still a record for a backup quarterback with one team. With a better supporting cast around him, and more seasoning, Rosen would seem to have the ideal temperament for a reserve quarterback, and let’s not kid ourselves; a quality backup QB is one of the most important positions on any NFL team. If we look at it that way, a late second round pick is a bargain basement price to pay for a guy whom the phone lines will probably not be burning up for when his contract expires, but who might be very well suited to come in and play well enough to win some games when the starter inevitably misses some playing time. Rosen also appears to be one of the most humble and unselfish players to play for the Dolphins in quite a while.

Alright, so what about the starter? I have a feeling about why some folks are fervently hoping that Josh Rosen somehow miraculously emerges as the Dolphins’ starter at quarterback, and it’s not because they necessarily think that Rosen’s that great, but rather, their fear that Miami will draft a quarterback high and end up blowing the pick. The risks involved with drafting Tua Tagovailoa have been discussed ad nausea, we don’t really know about Herbert, and I’ve also heard one of the most damning things you can hear about a college player: that he doesn’t really love the game. Jake Fromm and Jordan Love just don’t seem to have that ‘it’ factor, and with Joe Burrow the consensus number one overall pick, it will probably require a king’s ransom to pry him away from Cincinnati, that is, if they’re even interested in letting someone else draft him.

So where does that leave us? I don’t buy the idea that the Dolphins can simply wait until the 2021 draft and select their quarterback of the future then. Regardless of how daunting this season’s schedule may be, they still figure to win another game or two more than they did this past year. What if they were to sign or trade for, another journeyman type QB, in other words, a younger Ryan Fitzpatrick? It’s not like teams haven’t won championships with those types of quarterbacks in the past, and with the league transitioning to a shorter, quick hitting passing game, a smart, steady Joe Montana/Tom Brady/Kirk Cousins type QB who doesn’t necessarily have a rocket arm but gets the ball out quickly and can accurately hit his receivers in stride might be all the Dolphins need to make a deep playoff run one of these days. Maybe that’s a smarter move than burning a high draft pick on an unproven commodity at the position, and then eventually having to pay him a huge salary in a few years, even if they’re not completely sold on whether he can lead them to the promised land someday. Regardless of his success up in Nashville, this is what happened with Ryan Tannehill. Instead of trading away the next Ryan Tannehill, what if Miami acquires him, after he’s already been in the league for a few years and has learned how to play someplace else before he arrives here? Every off-season, at least one or two teams figures to have a fire sale; New England has been signing good players from other teams’ failed regimes for two decades now. That’s the wrap for today, have a great week, everybody.