Oddly enough, the quarterback situation for the Miami Dolphins is beginning to play out like a Phil Collins song. Josh Rosen, the No. 10 overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, has spent his life waiting on the moment to be a franchise quarterback.
Oh lord, however, I can feel it in the air that Ryan Fitzpatrick, the magic man himself, is going to ruin Rosen’s hopes and dreams, along with the Dolphins’ future.
Cue the iconic drum crescendo for a season of musical chairs at the most important position on the field.
Leave it to the Dolphins to mix and match a prospective franchise quarterback with one of the most Jekyll-and-Hyde players in NFL history. What could possibly go wrong?
Plenty could wrong if you’re Brian Flores, leading a team with as much turnover at head coach as it’s had at the quarterback position.
The Dolphins are in no position to be competing for the playoffs heading into the 2019 season, which makes this the perfect time for them to throw Rosen into the fire and give him a chance to mature under duress. No better teacher exists for a young quarterback than the throes of competition.
Yet, the Dolphins are already making the mistake of falling in love with the FitzMagic phenomenon—an unexpected spectacle that briefly turned the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into must-see television.
According to the Miami Herald’s Adam Beasley, Flores is expecting to start Fitzpatrick at quarterback in Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons.
The first-year head coach also acknowledged Fitzpatrick as being in the lead to ultimately start Week 1 of the regular season.
“I see Fitz going with the ones, but that could change. … That’s where I see it right now,” said Flores.
Any other situation calling on a 36-year-old quarterback to take meaningful snaps away from a second-year prospect would presumably involve a playoff-contending team, and that certainly isn’t the situation for the Dolphins right now.
Contending for the AFC East is already out of the question as long as Tom Brady, the real-life Benjamin Button, is behind center for the New England Patriots, and they aren’t beating out the various other more talented teams across the division that will be vying for a wild card spot.
So the Dolphins are essentially going through the motions with Fitzpatrick as the starter.
Rosen already had his confidence shaken once by the lukewarm reaction he received from the Arizona Cardinals, who drafted him with a first-round pick before trading him the following year.
Even if he does ultimately beat out Fitzpatrick for the starting job, there are legitimate concerns the Dolphins would bench him if he struggles, rather than giving him an opportunity to work his way out of a jam.
A frustrating game of musical chairs is the last thing Rosen needs several months after being traded, but that’s the likely scenario with a hot-shot quarterback like Fitzpatrick feigning as the backup.
Most coaches would be tempted to roll the dice on the guy that threw for 400 yards and three-plus touchdowns in three consecutive games last season, while simultaneously keeping their finger on the emergency panic button.
However, the magic always wears off, and Fitzpatrick devolves back into the same guy that threw six interceptions and zero touchdown passes against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2016.
Then the Dolphins would presumably turn back to Rosen for the same rinse, wash and repeat process all over again.
And I haven’t even mentioned the popularity factor.
Everything from the plush beard to the designer sunglasses, gold chains and tracksuit, which Fitzpatrick borrowed from former teammate DeSean Jackson, turned the journeyman quarterback into a certifiable superstar last season.
People are naturally enthralled and captivated by the FitzMagic persona, even if it’s generally short-lived and comes in spurts.
If Rosen struggles, like Jameis Winston did for the Buccaneers, how long will it be before we start hearing the FitzMagic chants? How long will it be before the coaching staff and players are bombarded with questions related to the replacement of their young quarterback?
It’s a combustible situation that basically keeps Rosen on the hot seat every time he takes a snap, cueing up another surefire season of disappointment by the time the drum decrescendo hits in December.
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“Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports and semi-deep thinker.
His work has appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from — just rolling hills, green valleys and all the Sun Drop you can drink.”