Miami Dolphins QB Contest Poses Questions

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Ray Burton
Ray writes mostly in-depth analytical pieces covering a range of sports from a more statistical perspective drawing his inspiration from the fanalytics movement. Ray writes on the NFL, Premier League, MLB, NHL, NBA, and NRL.

The Miami Dolphins QB contest is the main story in a summer that has seen the Dolphins rip up the previous years of plans, and things seem to be heading in a more positive direction. But the quarterback battle may have all the earmarks of previous Dolphins regimes.

The Rosen One?

The addition of Josh Rosen via trade during the draft signaled a new, aggressive approach to acquiring a QB of the future. The trade was a masterstroke as the Dolphins traded back in the second round with the Saints, and acquired an additional second-round pick in 2020. Using the 2019 second-rounder to acquire Rosen, the Dolphins still have that 2020 pick in their pocket.

All was well in Magic City. 

In case anyone has forgotten Josh Rosen was considered one of the best quarterbacks in the 2018 draft. If he had been coming out of college this season, he would have been the second-ranked quarterback behind Kyler Murray and the Dolphins got him for an absolute steal.

The top three quarterbacks taken not named Baker Mayfield were really not that far apart statistically. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, but Rosen doesn’t compare unfavourably. Given that the Bills and Jets believe they have their franchise quarterbacks, Rosen was a great acquisition.

Just 3 days into camp, however, first-year head coach Brian Flores has admitted that Ryan Fitzpatrick is leading the way in the Miami Dolphins QB contest. While this is fine, if you’re sold on Josh Rosen as your QB of the future, it positively beggars belief if you are unsure about him.

If Rosen is your quarterback of the future it’s fine to have him sit behind Fitzpatrick and learn for a few weeks, or a season. You can roll out the veteran, let him take the hits behind a patchwork line while Rosen gets to watch and learn. It would be a great plan.

The Rosen One. Josh Rosen acquired via trade during the draft © Miami Dolphins
The Rosen One? Josh Rosen acquired via trade during the draft © Miami Dolphins

But if you’re not sure about him then starting Fitzpatrick makes little sense in the overall picture.

What The Fitz?

Ryan Fitzpatrick is a solid quarterback. He is a downgrade on Ryan Tannehill. He is average. He is a 6-win QB. The one thing you can almost guarantee is that he will win you just enough games to keep you out of the top 5 selections in next years draft. 

Make no mistake, Ryan Fitzpatrick is not a solution to the problem. He is a place-holder. Sure he might be more exciting if you like your QB to throw more interceptions. Some games he’ll put up 40 points. But some games he’ll put up 6 interceptions.

Before the off-season started I was all for rolling out Luke Falk or David Fales to see what they had. If they lost every game then so be it, at least we would know and we’d have the number one pick. Neither of those quarterbacks are still on the roster, and to be honest, I love what the staff have done overall although the Fitzpatrick signing always baffled me.

In his 14 years in the league, Fitzpatrick has played for 7 teams and has a winning record with none of them. He has a career winning percentage of just 39.68%. All this means, if he starts all 16 games he will likely win about 6 ganes. Not too bad you say. But that will see Miami drafting 8th-10th next year.

That’s just far enough down to make trading into the top-3 massively expensive for a team with a lot of holes to fill. This is a team still without even a decent offensive line, potentially no decent pass-rushers, and only one starting-caliber corner.

Trading Up Is Hard To Do

To give you an idea of the cost of moving up to third, the Jets did it from sixth in 2018 to acquire Sam Darnold. The price to move up those 3 spots? Their first-round pick and two second-round picks in 2018, plus a second-round pick in 2019.

And that was to move up from sixth. The Jets may have slightly overpaid, but it’s a reasonably fair trade. If you need a primer on the value of draft picks then check here for an overview.

When the Redskins traded up from sixth to second to select RGIII they gave up three first-round picks and a second-rounder. So it can be an expensive business.

While the 2020 draft has several top prospects including Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, and Jake Fromm, the lower you pick the harder, and more expensive, it is to trade up for them. And despite what some people will have you believe none of these quarterbacks is guaranteed to be successful in the NFL

So if this coaching staff has any doubts that Josh Rosen in the guy, they have to play him. They have to prove that he’s not and put him on the field to lose. Either way, this season is likely to be mostly painful viewing for Fins fans, so we may at least learn something during the process.

Unless of course, the staff already know they have their franchise quarterback waiting behind Ryan Fitzpatrick. Maybe, just maybe, the Miami Dolphins QB contest is just about anointing the Rosen one down the line.

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