In the NFL, there’s nothing as disruptive as a quarterback controversy. Everything starts from the man under center; he’s the one leading the offense and touching the ball every play. The Miami Dolphins, however, don’t appear to be concerned about that. Just one week after naming Josh Rosen the starter, the team has benched him in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick.
On the surface, Miami is simply making a win-now move. At this point in the season, however, there’s no reason to make the change.
The Miami Dolphins’ season so far
If you haven’t watched any Miami Dolphins games this season, you aren’t missing much. The team is currently sitting in last place in the AFC East with an 0-5 record. It’s cheaper to head into Hard Rock Stadium than it is to visit the Miami Zoo, which should tell you something about their prospects for improvement.
The team has struggled on both sides of the ball, allowing 180 points while only scoring 42 of their own. ESPN called the Dolphins offense the league’s worst before the start of the season and, so far, that looks like an accurate prediction. Both Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick have looked inconsistent but, then again, it’s hard to look good when there’s no recognizable receivers on the roster.
Creating a quarterback controversy
After the Dolphins bye week, head coach Brian Flores named Josh Rosen his starting quarterback. Superficially, the movie made sense; if like a player enough to trade for him in the offseason, there’s no reason to keep him on the bench. But then the Dolphins played the Washington Redskins, and Rosen floundered. He completed 15 passes for 85 yards and two interceptions before being benched in the second half.
After the game, Flores backed Rosen as his starter. That all changed on Wednesday, however, as the head coach issued an about-face, announcing Fitzpatrick would start against the Buffalo Bills.
“I’m bummed out, but it’s a part of the process,” Rosen said, taking the demotion in stride. “If Coach wants to make the decision, it’s his decision to make. I wish I would have made it a little tougher on him, but it’s a long season.”
What do the Dolphins gain by starting Ryan Fitzpatrick?
On the surface, the Miami Dolphins are simply playing the quarterback who gives them the best chance to win on Sunday. While that’s an admirable motive, it doesn’t make sense from a long-term organizational perspective.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to turn 37 in a month and has been in the NFL for almost 15 years. For all of his skills and limitations, he’s a known commodity; there might be some moments of “Fitzmagic,” but he isn’t going to lead your franchise to the promised land.
To be perfectly fair, Josh Rosen probably isn’t going to lead the Dolphins anywhere, either. But he’s a talented 22-year-old trying to tread water in the middle of a hurricane. At this point, Miami’s season is over. If you’re going to lose, you might as well give a kid a chance to show you something instead of letting a veteran grind out a few pyrrhic victories that do little more than look better in the history books. Even if Rosen confirms his doubters’ worst suspicious, he’ll help the team get a higher draft pick.
Herman Edwards famously said, “you play to win the game,” and that’s what the Dolphins are doing. Unfortunately, winning one or two games with an aging quarterback isn’t going to turn their franchise around.