The Miami Dolphins head into their 2020 training camp with a fairly deep quarterback group. Presumed starter Ryan Fitzpatrick enters his 16th season after throwing for 3,529 yards on a 62.0 completion percentage, with 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, giving him an 85.5 passer rating. Rookie first-round pick Tua Tagovailoa comes to the team off a dislocated and fractured hip during his final year at Alabama, but seems ready to get back on the field and says he is healthy. Third-year quarterback Josh Rosen, the tenth-overall pick in 2018 by the Arizona Cardinals, comes to camp looking to prove that he has a future in the league, and show he is worthy of either staying with the Dolphins as a backup or entice another team to trade for him. Finally, fifth-year quarterback Jake Rudock, who was drafted in the sixth-round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions, continues to develop after spending last season on Miami’s practice squad.
Could Tagovailoa challenge for the starting position this year? Could Rosen prove Miami’s investment in him as a trade target last year was a worthy one? Can Fitzpatrick, a 2005 seventh-round pick by the St. Louis Rams and playing for his eighth different team, continue the magic that has kept him in the league for this long?
Having a deep quarterback group could be a great problem for the Dolphins this year. In a sport that is constantly impacted by injury, this year is even more perilous with the addition of COVID-19 coronavirus risks. Teams will likely need more than one quarterback this season, and the Dolphins seem set to be able to have options for exactly that scenario.
On Friday, Pro Football Focus’ Ian Hartitz published “When disaster strikes: Ranking every team’s backup quarterback situations.” He explains, “What follows is a breakdown on how each team’s QB room looks if their starting signal-caller goes down. This has nothing to do with the talent and ability of the team’s starter; we’re strictly looking at QBs 2-4 on the depth chart.” Where do the Dolphins fall in the rankings?
Tier one of the rankings is called “The Big Four.” It begins with the New Orleans Saints, featuring Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, and Tommy Stevens behind Drew Brees. In second place are the Indianapolis Colts, where Jacoby Brissett, Chad Kelly, and Jacob Eason are behind Philip Rivers. The Dallas Cowboys are then ranked third, where Andy Dalton, Clayton Thorson, and Ben DiNucci backup Dak Prescott.
And, fourth, are Tagovailoa, Rosen, and Rudock for the Dolphins. Hartitz writes of the Dolphins’ backup quarterback situation:
Perhaps Tua beats out Ryan Fitzpatrick; 17 of 20 top-10 QBs drafted since 2010 went on to start double-digit games as a rookie. Still, the hip injury concern is real, and waiting a year to expose Tagovailoa to an improved (but still unproven) offensive line might not be such a bad idea.
Rosen has been thrust into arguably the two worst situations imaginable for a young QB to thrive in with the 2018 Cardinals and 2019 Dolphins. Typically, amazing QBs manage to ball out regardless of their supporting cast; I wouldn’t bet on Rosen emerging as a future high-end QB. Just realize that he isn’t as bad as you probably think.
Rudock has thrown five regular season passes since entering the league in 2016.
Obviously, FitzMagic would also be a high-end backup if Tua starts the season. Either way, there’s plenty of talent in this QB room to go along with their YOLO-ball veteran gunslinger. Expect at least a fun, if not solid, Miami passing game in 2020.
Who will ultimately win the starting role at the end of training camp will still be seen. If it is Fitzpatrick, does Tagovailoa take over at some point during the season? Whatever the case, hopefully Miami does not need a backup quarterback this year, but if they do, the seem pretty well stacked at the position.