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Miami Dolphins

Josh Rosen: What Must He Do To Be Considered The Dolphins’ Future?

Chris Kowalewski

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The Miami Dolphins’ trade with the Arizona Cardinals to acquire Josh Rosen was perhaps the biggest story on the second day of the 2019 NFL Draft.

Just a year earlier, the Cardinals had traded up in the first round to draft Rosen with the tenth overall pick and he was perceived to be Arizona’s future star. But Rosen’s debut season saw him struggle on a team devoid of talent, which earned the Cardinals the number 1 pick in April 2019.

Kliff Kingsbury stood by his word and drafted Kyler Murray, the diminutive but explosive QB phenomenon with the top overall spot, leaving Josh Rosen as surplus to requirements in the desert state.

Dolphins’ GM, Chris Grier, was widely praised for the trade which saw Rosen arrive in Miami – acquiring a further second round pick in 2020 from the New Orleans Saints before sending Miami’s 2019 second rounder and a 2020 fifth rounder to Arizona in exchange for the young and talented passer.

THE HURDLES

It is no secret that the Miami Dolphins are poised for a difficult season ahead, with many of the Cardinals’ fundamental issues from last year apparently set to plague the Dolphins as they forge ahead with their plan to rebuild for the future.

The circumstances are eerily similar. The 2018 Cardinals had a rookie Head Coach, a lacklustre offensive group (Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson aside), paper-thin protection for their new quarterback and cracks in the defense that no amount of Flex Seal products could resolve.

Whilst the trade for Josh Rosen may have him safely removed from a situation where he was never going to be given fair competition to compete against Arizona’s newest toy, it lands him in familiar and dangerous territory on a team which will have difficulty keeping the young quarterback on his feet behind a relatively inexperienced and/or talent-poor offensive line. 

For far too long in Miami, the offensive line has truly lived up to its name. At times it has been downright disgusting. It has seen coaches and players fired or embroiled in scandal, quarterbacks decimated, games lost and seasons disappear into worthlessness.

Dolphins fans don’t want to have to think about it any longer but the annual talk of the Dolphins’ underwhelming talent level among the group resurfaces, overshadowing the Pro Bowl caliber of Miami’s elite LT, Laremy Tunsil. The group will remain a workinprogress, about which fans can do nothing other than trust in yet another new regime to finally get it correct.

In 2018, Josh Rosen ended the season with a 3-10 record in 13 starts with 14 INTs (tied for 5th worst), 45 sacks (7th worst), 4 pick sixes, 10 fumbles and 11 TDs (tied for 30th). 

His 2278 yards ranked 29th in the league and his completion percentage of 55.2% (217/393) ranked 33rd behind the league’s worst offensive line.

The result was a 66.7 Quarterback Rating which was good enough for 34th in the NFL.

The Miami Dolphins did have a higher ranked offensive line in 2018, ending the year ranked 31st. The risk of history repeating itself is real and it will be up to a new group of coaches and co-ordinators to figure out how to get the most out of Josh Rosen, whilst simultaneously evaluating his potential as part of Miami’s future. 

THE HELPERS

The Dolphins do have a promising group of receivers – a rare combination of speedsters and powerful pass catchers. Whilst questions regarding injury and (in some cases) effort affect each and every one, the wide receiver room is a deep and talented bunch. They certainly have the talent to make plays on the NFL stage with Josh Rosen most notably showing promising chemistry with undrafted rookie sensation, Preston Williams.

After years of being placed on the back burner, tight end is evolving into a significant focus of the Dolphins offense under Brian Flores and a shifty yet powerful selection of young running backs look set to contribute heavily to the passing attack.

So focus returns to the quarterback position. Not so much to Ryan Fitzpatrick, whose veteran experience has been proven throughout his 16 years in the NFL – but to Rosen as the one who has the chance to establish himself as part of the Dolphins for years to come. Fitzpatrick will inevitably serve as an excellent mentor to Josh until he has proven he can take the lead and although that time is approaching, no one knows for sure when it will arrive.

In a close battle throughout training camp, it has been well reported that Fitzpatrick’s veteran savvy and awareness sees him placed ahead of the young buck, but Rosen has been gaining ground with a relatively impressive Dolphins debut in his first pre-season game which has seen Rosen begin to take more snaps with the starters in practice. 

WHAT DOES ROSEN NEED TO DO?

However the year may play out, at the close of the season the Dolphins will have to make a decision regarding their QB spot heading into 2020.

The 2020 rookie class is likely to contain a number of attractive names worthy of the investment of a high first round pick and the Dolphins could find themselves with easy access to acquire another quarterback in the opening selections of Round 1.

Just to add extra pressure to Josh Rosen, the Dolphins have a multitude of draft picks which will help them to manoeuvre up and down the draft board together with a wide open wallet when it comes to cap space. It is therefore unlikely that they would be slow up to the Commissioner’s podium to hand in the card with any one of Tua Tagovailoa, Jordan Love or Jake Fromm’s names scribbled on it.

If Rosen wants to prove the Cardinals wrong in dealing him away, to show the Dolphins they were right to take a chance on him and quieten all the doubters, his time is NOW. The pressure is on and the clock is ticking.

So what does Josh Rosen have to do to get the Dolphins to look elsewhere at the top of the draft? What does he need to accomplish for the Dolphins to focus attention on other positions (perhaps even O-Line!) and seek to supplement the roster with other top-tier talent?

The first thing we will have to disregard for now is the offensive line. We all know it is a problem but Rosen must show flashes of ability to overcome some heavy team deficiencies.

The league’s top quarterbacks can still drive the offense behind broken protection. Russell Wilson has done it. Aaron Rodgers has done it. Andrew Luck has done it. Perhaps they have not always been able to drag their team to victory, but they have proved through their own performance and determination that they possess a winning combination of mental awareness and on-field talent to hide weaknesses and demonstrate capacity to lead which sees them constantly discussed as NFL elites.

A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY

Quarterback in the NFL is often considered the most difficult position in all of sports. Memorising the playbook. Knowing exactly what the other 10 players on your team are doing on every snap.  Commanding the offense, reading the defense and delivering the ball with accuracy and drive, whilst avoiding some of the world’s best athletes on defense and all under the pressure of the stadium lights, TV cameras and eyes of fans around the world. It’s an unenviable task.

Many try and many fail. Many set narratives from their rookie year which stick with them throughout their career. 

But there are some who break away from the early narrative and raise their game above and beyond expectations.

A quick flick back through history and the rookie seasons of some notable names prove evidence of the same:

Terry Bradshaw, Hall of Farmer, 4x Super Bowl Champion and 2x Super Bowl MVP and the top overall pick for the Steelers in 1970 threw a record setting 24 INTS in 13 games (8 starts) with 6 TDs and a miserable 30.4 quarterback rating.

In 1979, his first year as a Dallas Cowboy, Troy Aikman threw for only 1749 yards with 18 INTs and 9 TDs.

Peyton Manning threw 28 INTs and finished with a 3-13 record in his rookie year (but still managed to put up 26 TDs and 3739 yards).

His brother, Eli Manning (again a first overall pick) threw for a lowly 48.2% completion rate, 6 TDs 9 INTs and 1043 yards in 7 games (1-6) as a starter.

Even, John Elway, first overall selection in 1983, future Hall of Famer, 9x Pro Bowler, 2x Super Bowl Champion, Super Bowl MVP and all-round NFL icon started his career with a 4-6 record, 47.5% completion, 7 TDs 14 INTs and 6 fumbles.

Of course, these players constitute a small handful of rare exceptions and the number of quarterbacks who ultimately fail rather than succeed is much larger.

But Josh Rosen does have the smarts. He does have the talent. He definitely has the self-confidence. He just needs to put everything together, something that only time will show us whether it can be done.

PROJECTING THE NUMBERS

I understand that placing figures and imaginary statistics on a player at this stage is an entirely arbitrary process. The evaluation of Josh Rosen will absolutely be an ‘eyeball test’ rather than a simple review of the numbers. But I do consider there to be some benchmarks which he needs to meet (and hopefully exceed) before the Dolphins can properly consider Rosen as a promising prospect for the future to the extent that they can justifiably avoid taking a quarterback at the top of the 2020 draft.

Those key benchmarks are:

– Winning the training camp battle outright and being named starter before Week 1

– Showing continued growth in decision making, accuracy and vocal leadership

– Dragging the team to a .500+ record

– Throwing 26+ TDs with fewer than 10-12 INTs

– Throwing a 65%+ completion percentage

– Throwing for 4200+ yards

Those stats may even be a little too generous to Rosen and could even appear Tannehill-esque. But they would place him squarely in the top half of NFL rankings (compared to 2018 numbers) and be achieved on a roster with room for improvement.

I don’t for one minute mean that if Rosen achieves these numbers that the Dolphins have their quarterback of the future. Rather I set these numbers at a level to be met before I think the Dolphins could look elsewhere.

One of the fundamental criticisms of Ryan Tannehill was that he seemingly couldn’t elevate the players around him. He needed protection and the focused concentration of all those around him before he could fire on an impressive level. But not since 1972 has anything in the NFL been perfect and Josh Rosen has to show that he doesn’t need it to be in order to succeed. 

Brian Flores already talked about Josh Rosen’s body language needing to improve. He has made clear statements about Fitzpatrick’s higher level of understanding of the offense. Most importantly, he has confirmed that the best player will ultimately play. If Rosen wants to avoid a repeat of 2018, it is on his shoulders to put the Dolphins out of reach of the number 1 draft pick by the end of the season. 

Rosen knows himself that he has to put the work in, has to seize control of the offense and become a leader. He is battling not only against Ryan Fitzpatrick, but also against himself for starting quarterback position for 2019 and beyond. 

Playing behind 2018’s 31st-ranked offensive (and one which is projected to continue to dredge the bottom of the rankings) Rosen has to demonstrate a considerable step-up in playmaking from a mental and physical aspect. The change in team, teammates, playbook and coaches simply adds to the inconsistency and adversity faced in his young career but he has to demonstrate that he can overcome those hurdles to be not just a ‘good’ player but show that he has the traits of a special player for the Dolphins to avoid taking a QB in 2020.

With his salary virtually fully paid by the Cardinals for another 3 years the Dolphins had nothing to lose by taking on Rosen. But they aren’t looking at him as the franchise’s saviour. Not yet, and most definitely not without proper evaluation.

The likelihood is that the Dolphins won’t be put off the top names of the 2020 or 2021 quarterback classes by anything Rosen does in 2019. Competition and depth at quarterback is key to development and continued success – something the Dolphins haven’t had for decades.

The time is now for to Josh Rosen to make the most of his opportunity to join a small but resilient group of quarterbacks who have battled through the pains of their rookie year and taken steps towards NFL stardom.

Physically located across the pond, but mentally always in Miami. A qualified lawyer, NFL sponge, aspiring writer and self-proclaimed IKEA furniture construction expert, he’s looking ahead to a brighter future for the Dolphins after decades of wading in the depths of mediocrity. Always on the search for any excuse to talk all-things Dolphins.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    bob mac

    August 16, 2019 at 3:45 am

    Ughh… Of course the QB will be under attack with this O Line. Rosen is better than Fitzy. The offensive line is the problem.

    • Avatar

      Pigskin101

      August 16, 2019 at 12:12 pm

      Troy Aikman’s, rookie year was in 1989 not 1979.

  2. Avatar

    Jhary

    August 16, 2019 at 4:39 am

    Rosen has to actually beat out FitzMagic for the starting job FIRST. If he can’t do that, he’s definitely NOT our future.

    Scott

    I root for Miami and anybody that plays the cheats, Jets and the Crimson Tide!

  3. Avatar

    Mark Doyle

    August 16, 2019 at 6:22 am

    Miami should design the protection first and use the remaining players to attack the defense. They may need 7 OLs to get off a pass. I expect quick passes this year with a lot of runs. The most important thing is evaluate talent and develop for next year.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins Waive TE Michael Roberts

Chris Kowalewski

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As the doors of the Dolphins’ training facility open to the newly signed rookie class, they close for another former Miami-hopeful after an active weekend of roster moves.

The Miami Dolphins have today waived TE Michael Roberts.

Roberts began his NFL career in 2017 out of Toledo as a 4th round pick of the Detroit Lions, possessing ideal measurements (6’5”, 265lb) for a playmaking TE.

A shoulder injury in December 2018 cut short Roberts’ time in Detroit and he was waived by the Lions following a failed physical as part of an attempted trade with the New England Patriots and subsequently waived quickly again after being picked up by the Green Bay Packers.

Roberts underwent reconstruction of the injured left shoulder in August 2019, having struggled both physically and mentally as his career path veered away from his dreams. Signed by the Dolphins in February 2020, it was hoped that Roberts could revive his NFL career in Miami’s TE room, competing with Durham Smythe for the TE2 spot behind Mike Gesicki.

At only 26 years old, it remains to be seen whether the young TE will be able to regain full health and return to the game, but the craziness of 2020 only puts further hurdles in his path as training camp rosters are reduced across the league to 80 players in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Don’t expect Brian Flores and his staff to sit on their hands when it comes to competition – 2019 highlighted on a regularly churning roster of names being given a chance to succeed – and this approach is expected to continue at certain positions. As such, Saturday’s news that former Chicago Bears’ TE Adam Shaheen had been acquired by the Dolphins ensures that healthy competition can continue to spread through the roster, and proves the willingness of the front office to give chances to promising players who may not have achieved during their first NFL stop.

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Miami Dolphins

In A Perfect World, Tua Tagovailoa Doesn’t Start a Single Game

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

If everything goes right, Tua Tagovailoa isn’t going to start a single game for the Miami Dolphins in 2020.

Nope, you didn’t misread that last sentence. Tua Tagovailoa riding the bench is the best thing that could happen to the Miami Dolphins this season, and if you think otherwise, then you haven’t been paying attention to what Brian Flores has been preaching since his arrival.

The obvious factor everyone is taking into consideration is the health of Tua’s hip. And while that definitely plays a part, it has minimal affect on his playing time. You see, barring a trade, Tua is the third-best quarterback on the roster right now.

Combine his inexperience, a COVID-restricted offseason, and that pesky hip injury, and it’s safe to say our questions have already been answered.

The Better Player Plays

With this team, it’s no secret that playing time is awarded based on a player’s performance both in games and during practice. It doesn’t matter where you were drafted or how much money you’re making, if you aren’t better than the athlete next to you, you aren’t playing.

In fact, didn’t we just go through a very similar situation last year when the Dolphins acquired Josh Rosen from the Arizona Cardinals for a 2nd-round draft pick?

We all assumed that Ryan Fitzpatrick was keeping the seat warm until Rosen – a top-10 draft pick one season prior – was ready, but when Flores had the opportunity to simultaneously give a young quarterback experience and tank for Tua, he did neither. Instead, opting to (nearly) sabotage the opportunity to draft Tagovailoa and win as many games as possible with Fitzpatrick.

Rosen has much more upside than Fitzpatrick, but he couldn’t muster more than 197 snaps under center last season.

Just like that, the culture was set. Flores wasn’t fucking around – it was win at all costs, and the players bought in. One season later, that mantra certainly hasn’t changed.

Tua has more talent and better quarterback traits than Fitzpatrick and Rosen (probably combined), so there’s no arguing which quarterback we want to build a franchise around, but who is going to win the team more games this season?

I don’t doubt that Tua is a football genius that will pick up a playbook quickly, but knowing your plays and executing against an NFL defense are two completely different things.

Fitzpatrick has been in the league for 15 years while Tua has been in the league for 14 weeks; there is A LOT Tua has to learn before he can make the kind of reads Fitzpatrick can instinctively make after 139 starts in the NFL.

Josh Rosen may not evolve into an elite, franchise-saving quarterback, but he’s not terrible either. Two years of experience and a season-worth of starts (16) under his belt gives him an instant edge over Tua. The only thing that levels Rosen with Tagovailoa is they’re both learning Chan Gailey‘s offense for the first time – and for Rosen, this would be his 4th different offense in the past 4 years.

Otherwise, Rosen already has a rapport with the coaching staff, the medical staff, all of the workers in the building, and the receivers on this roster. In other words, he’s comfortable in his surroundings while Tua is trying to get acclimated to a brand new life.

There are going to be growing pains and a learning curve – two things we admittedly need Tua to experience in order to evolve. But the question becomes, when can Miami afford to experience those “opportunities”? Certainly not if they believe they are…

Playoff Bound

The Miami Dolphins – and most importantly, Brian Flores – believe they are in a position to make a legitimate playoff run.

Scoff however much you’d like at the notion that this team, one year removed from being “the worst team in the NFL”, is on a cusp of making a playoff appearance, but don’t tell anyone in the Dolphins’ organization that you think that.

A remastered secondary, a veteran presence among the front-7, an entirely new offensive line, and real, productive running backs means the Dolphins are all-but-guaranteed to improve on their 5-11 record.

In fact, the only thing holding them back from a legitimate playoff run is the quarterback position.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has won more than 6 games as a starter just once in his career, and Rosen only has 3 wins to his name (none as a Dolphin). If the team falters, it’s because these two quarterbacks couldn’t carry a well-built football team to the playoffs.

And that’s where the disappointment of another lost season is met with hope for the future. It won’t be until the Dolphins are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs that the team will trot Tua Tagovailoa out onto the field.

Waiting until so late in the season checks off every single box you need. It gives him time to:

  • Learn his way around the NFL
  • Understand the playbook better
  • Observe the game from the sideline
  • Gain chemistry with his receivers

Oh, and it also helps ensure that his hip is healthy, because…

I’m Sure He’s Healthy…

Being stuck inside during an international pandemic may have made it seem like a lifetime ago, but it’s only been three short months since we all clamored to a 14 minute video of Tua Tagovailoa throwing scripted passes; our eyes inexplicably glued to a man’s hips, unscientifically judging whether or not he was healthy. Try explaining that one to your significant other.

While we are all thrilled with recent medical reports and first-hand accounts from the quarterback himself, it would be downright idiotic to mess around with a hip injury.

The only reason Tua Tagovailoa was available at the 5th-overall pick was because of the uncertainty surrounding his hip, those concerns don’t suddenly disappear just because he’s on your roster and we’re excited to see our prized possession play.

Let his hip heal and let him practice against a secondary that includes Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, Bobby McCain, Brandon Jones, Noah Igbinoghene, and Eric Rowe. He’s going to learn just how quickly throwing lanes close and how tight they are to begin with.

Don’t convince yourself that Tua has to start games this rookie season to be the elite quarterback he’s projected to be. Patrick Mahomes started one game his rookie year. Aaron Rodgers didn’t start until his forth season in the NFL. If all of the hype is real, then his career will be just fine.

The plan isn’t to count moral victories, but to win football games – and Tua Tagovailoa gives the Miami Dolphins the best chance to do that for the foreseeable future. But for now, Ryan Fitzpatrick is your starting quarterback, and until Josh Rosen relinquishes the job as backup, it won’t be Tua’s until 2021. Mission Accomplished.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Trade for Tight End Adam Shaheen

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

After a breakout 2019 campaign, it looks like Mike Gesicki will have some competition.

According to Pro Football Talk, the Miami Dolphins have traded a 2021 6th-round pick to the Chicago Bears for tight end Adam Shaheen.

A former 2nd-round pick (2017) out of Ashland University (Division II), Shaheen excelled during the combine, which led to an increase in his draft stock. The Bears jumped at the opportunity of molding a raw prospect, and selected Shaheen with the 45th pick in the draft. He was the 5th tight end taken in the draft that year, well above where he was originally projected when he declared for the NFL.

Though the Bears were optimistic, it seems Shaheen hasn’t lived up to his draft status. After three seasons, Shaheen has 26 receptions for 249 yards and 4 touchdowns. His playtime has diminished from 239 offensive snaps in 2017, to 160 in 2018 and 174 in 2019; with injuries playing a part the past two seasons. For comparisons sake, Durham Smythe had 482 offensive snaps last season alone (Shaheen has 573 for his career).

Shaheen became expendable after the Bears drafted Cole Kmet in the 2nd-round of the 2020 draft and signed Jimmy Graham to a 2-year contract earlier this offseason. With 8 tight ends on the Chicago Bears roster, you know something had to give. And from the perspective of a Bears’ fan, receiving any compensation for a likely roster cut is rewarding enough.

Trading a 6th-round pick means Shaheen is a favorite to win one of the backup tight end spots, should the Dolphins keep 3 on their roster.

It’s unlikely that Shaheen is a possible replacement for Smythe, as Shaheen is meant to be a receiving threat more than an in-line blocker, but there is so much untapped potential with Shaheen that it’s hard to guess what the Dolphins will receive from him.

We assume Mike Gesicki will continue to grow, but behind him, the cupboard is pretty barren. Shaheen adds much-needed depth to a tight end room that currently includes Smythe, Michael Roberts, Chris Myarick and undrafted rookie Bryce Sterk.

 

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