The Miami Dolphins have an incumbent starting quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick, a player who has returned to training camp in 2020 and shown why he is on top of the depth chart. They have a future franchise quarterback in fifth-overall draft pick Tua Tagovailoa, a player who has had his early rookie struggles in training camp but has also shown flashes of the accuracy and talent that has the team and fans excited for his potential. Then, they also have a quarterback who seems like the forgotten player on the roster.
Josh Rosen, two years ago, was a tenth-overall draft pick by the Arizona Cardinals. He was the fourth quarterback selected despite pre-draft profiles that include statements like “the most polished quarterback to enter the league since Andrew Luck,” “there isn’t a better thrower of the football in this draft class, and he has few rivals when it comes to football IQ, mental processing, accuracy, and precision,” and “in terms of mechanics, accuracy, footwork and touch, he’s the best passer in the 2018 draft class. He’s an incredibly clean passer.” Since being selected, Rosen has seen the Cardinals select Kyler Murray with the first-overall pick in 2019, was traded to the Dolphins, started three games before being benched, and then saw the Dolphins select Tagovailoa.
Rosen has the potential to be a great quarterback in the league, but he has also yet to put together enough of a performance in practices or games to force coaches to turn to him as their starter. It has been a strange start to a career for a highly-touted prospect selected in the top ten of the Draft. Rosen, however, is not letting it get to him as he prepares for his third NFL season.
“It is what it is, and I’ve just got to come out and try as hard as I can and compete as hard as I can every day and hopefully get the nod at some point in the future,” Rosen told the media on Tuesday about the team’s selection of Tagovailoa. “Right now, I’m just focusing on improving every day. ‘Fitz’ is an awesome guy to learn from and I’m sort of trying to continue that progress I had near the end of last year. I think I’m doing a pretty good job of it and we’ll see what the future holds; but I’m just focusing on my development at this point and I think it’s been going pretty well.”
As to what Rosen sees as his main focus for development, he explained, “Defenses. Not just watching film, but being able to apply information from the film room onto the field and what that means for my particular play. So I think I’ve been able to – more so than I ever have in my career – been able to eliminate guys pre-snap and start to zero in a little bit quicker on (to) who I want to throw.”
He then added, “That’s helping me get the ball out quicker than I ever have and make fast decisions and not make my offensive line look bad by holding onto the ball.”
Rosen remains confident in himself, and it is a confidence easily recognized despite the odd trajectory of his career thus far. “I feel positive because I’ve noticed I’m a lot more comfortable behind center this year than I was last year,” he explained. “And I’m walking up to the line of scrimmage with a plan, and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve put a lot of work in this offseason, and after I got benched – got benched the first time – but the final time, the last time before (against the Washington Football Team), I sort of did kind like a big mirror reality check and just wanted to completely turn inwards and see what I could do better. I kind of flicked myself in the head, like, ‘you’re literally in the room with one of the best minds to ever do it, and that’s ‘Fitz.’’ So I basically just sat there and tried to swallow up as much as I could from him and I took that sort of process into the offseason, and I’m pretty happy with how I feel behind center at this point.
“I’ve got a lot of work to do, but I think I’ve only scratched the surface with what I can do. I guess the reason that I’m sort of positive outside of this situation is because really all I can control is my development, and I think that’s going in a good direction and I’m pretty – I don’t know the kind of word to pick here – but I’m doing well.”
Along with the team change between his rookie and second season in the league, Rosen has had a revolving door of offensive coordinators and schemes, dating back to his college career. While the lack of consistency likely has harmed his development, Rosen sees the positive in learning from a coach like Chan Gailey, hired this year to be Miami’s offensive coordinator after Chad O’Shea was fired following the 2019 season. “It’s overwhelming every single year and then there’s always kind of a moment – usually it’s like spring ball in college or like OTAs, where you feel like you’re drinking from a firehose and there’s always kind of a moment where it clicks and you’re like, ‘okay, I’m starting to feel this is my language.’ Each year it’s just kind of a rough road to get there, but once you get there, you’re pretty comfortable. They’re just different styles and this offense that Chan runs is very player-oriented, so it’s just put your guys in position, let them make plays. He wants us to play fast, make quick decisions, and let our playmakers make plays, and we’ve got a lot of them. This a pretty stark contrast to what we had last year. It was a very different style and I’m not saying one is better than the other, but I’m just enjoying my time in this one right now and learning some of the nuances that – Chan and ‘Fitz’ have worked together and it’s really cool, actually, to go back and watch old Chan-Jets film with ‘Fitz’ at quarterback, so we can see those specific plays and we can see and ask and talk about the thought process of that play call and what ‘Fitz’ was thinking and why he threw it somewhere, and reliving some of the heartbreaks and celebrations on some of the plays.”
Rosen’s future is one that cannot be easily mapped. If he stays in Miami, he may be relegated to a career backup role, working behind Fitzpatrick this year and Tagovailoa in the future. If he leaves the Dolphins, will he be able to claim a starting job as he moves to his third team, and yet another offensive system, in such a short span? Rosen is not looking at any of those scenarios right now, instead of using this time to better himself, though he does realize his future may not be with the Dolphins. “I’m not really focused – maybe my mindset will change at some point in the future – but I’m not really focused as much on winning a job as I am just getting better, because I feel like I’ve bounced around a little bit at this point in my career; and when you focus on this, you kind of forget about this. I’m not saying I forgot about one or the other, but my peace right now is in my development as a quarterback, and I feel like that’s been going in a positive direction and that’s why I feel good about where I am right now.”
He continued, “I was drafted in the first round and I think around the league, people still think I can play to a certain extent; and just whenever that opportunity comes wherever it comes, I just want to be prepared for it because they’re few and far between, and I didn’t do great with the two that I already had. Not many people get third chances, so I’m definitely going to seize the opportunity when it comes.”