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Miami Dolphins

The Josh Rosen Conundrum

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

As Miami Dolphins fans set their sights on the future of the franchise, one potential savior has fallen far from our heavenly graces.

Brought in using “extra” ammunition acquired in a draft day trade with the New Orleans Saints, Chris Grier and the rest of his staff figured they were getting a franchise quarterback for a bargain when they mortgaged two draft picks for the (former) 10th-overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, Josh Rosen.

On the surface this can be viewed as a good trade. Though risky, the reward could far outweigh the premium it typically costs to obtain top-tier quarterbacks. Teams are virtually irrelevant without a perennial top-10 quarterback under center, which explains why the Dolphins have been an afterthought for a large majority of the 21st-century.

Fans have been yearning to solve this position for years, and the Dolphins presented us with our first legitimate opportunity since they drafted Ryan Tannehill 8th-overall in the 2012 NFL draft.

As a fan, how can I be mad at that? This team recognizes that the only way they’re going to become popular and prominent again is if they find themselves a quarterback, and Grier took a risk to try and make that happen.

Why I’m Glad

There’s a chance the Dolphins can make the Super Bowl with average quarterback play, but for any football team to be a perennial playoff contender they need a quarterback that’s elite. Otherwise, you’re the 2016 (10-6) Miami Dolphins; in the playoffs one year, on the fringe the other nine.

Using non-guaranteed lottery tickets we call draft picks to put yourself in a position to be a perennial playoff contender is always the correct answer. And when the Dolphins swung a trade for the former 10th-overall pick, we all felt hopeful for our future – even if we were skeptical of the player.

After all, it’s not like we paid a premium for Josh Rosen.

For a 2019 2nd-round pick (#62) and a 2020 5th-round pick (#154), the Dolphins essentially owned the 10th and 11th overall picks in the 2018 draft – a win for anyone that views players as stock.

Since the Arizona Cardinals were on the hook for his $10.5m signing bonus, the Dolphins obtained a potential starting quarterback for roughly $7m….over 3 seasons! That’s a bargain even as a backup quarterback.

The only thing Josh Rosen needed was time to grow, and the “tanking” 2019 Miami Dolphins presented the perfect opportunity. Everything was setup beautifully. They were either going to win with the future of their franchise, or experiment their way to a better answer in the 2020 NFL draft.

Why I’m Aggravated

I like that the Dolphins are willing to use high draft picks on quarterbacks, but their strategy of trying to maximize the most-vital position at bargain prices clearly isn’t cutting it.

A.J. Feeley, Chad Henne, John Beck, and Pat White all cost 2nd-round picks, and none of them were retained as backups, let alone reliable starters. Josh Rosen is potentially one week away from joining that list.

The Miami Dolphins watched the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans risk additional first round picks in 2017 to secure their franchise quarterbacks. Those teams moved up from 27th and 25th-overall respectively to set themselves up for the next decade while the Dolphins sat put at 22 and drafted Charles Harris.

Ironically, the Dolphins made the “safest” draft pick in 2018 by taking Minkah Fitzpatrick 11th-overall, and subsequently watched the Baltimore Ravens land the league’s MVP in Lamar Jackson.

It’s fair to point out that plenty of teams make these mistakes, but why do the Dolphins constantly make them?

I understand it may be more-difficult to scout and project how a college quarterback will translate to the NFL, but in the case of Josh Rosen, Daunte Culpepper, A.J. Feeley and even guys like Trent Green and Joey Harrington, the evidence was already there.

Josh Rosen played behind the worst offensive line in 2018; why did the Dolphins believe he would perform better after coming to the team with the second-worst offensive line in 2018?

Instead of using the 2019 2nd-round pick they paid for Rosen on an offensive linemen, the Miami Dolphins are likely going to use one of their 1st-round picks in the 2020 draft to select that solution. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have definitively drafted a young defensive end, a starting running back, a stud wide receiver, or a top-notch safety rather than forcing an offensive lineman with the 18th-overall pick?

What Were They Thinking?

After going through an extensive interview process, the front office, Stephen Ross and Brian Flores had to walk away in unison with Flores’ “winning” mentality. No matter how hard they tried to strip the team of talent, Flores was going to put his best players on the field in an effort to win.

This was the culture he was building…and this completely contradicts the main reason you purchased Josh Rosen.

Did the team really expect a young quarterback to grasp his third offensive playbook in three years, adjust to a new environment, handle the overall learning curve as a sophomore player, and come out on top against the 14-year veteran, Ryan Fitzpatrick? If the idea was to win from the start, Fitzpatrick was always the answer.

Which means the Dolphins were either ill-prepared for the move they made, or the team intended to give Rosen time to grow, but he didn’t show “it”.

Either way, it all goes back to the Dolphins inability to identify the most important position on the roster.

I love that they’re willing to risk their assets to benefit the team, I just with they’d risk them a little wiser.

Growing up a passionate Dolphins fan in Jets territory, Jason learned from an early age that life as a Dolphins fan wasn’t going to be easy. Previously the Sports Editor for his university newspaper, Jason has experience writing columns, creating game recaps and conducting interviews with Hall of Fame athletes (Harry Carson and Yogi Berra are two of his proudest interviews). When he’s not dissecting the latest sports news, you can find him perplexed over the Dolphins offensive line woes or involuntarily introducing music to his neighbors.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Avatar

    BrentP

    April 17, 2020 at 1:12 pm

    I don’t think the Rosen experiment is over yet, as stated I dont think he had a chance to be successful. Build a line and get a RB then see how he performs. He’s still only 22 years old and another year with Fitz might push him into contention as a legitimate starting QB.

  2. Avatar

    gary surrency

    April 17, 2020 at 1:26 pm

    I agree BrentP, Rosen has never really had a chance to show what he can do with a decent line when he is not running for his life. He has a good arm, he’s smart and needs to work with a consistent O coordinator. He’s healthy unlike Tua and has all the tools Herbert has.

    • Avatar

      Pietrov

      April 18, 2020 at 12:18 am

      Gary:
      “He’s healthy unlike Tua and has all the tools Herbert has.” This is the bottomline and the strongest irrefutable argument against a QB in the first round. Let us just hope this base level evaluation prevails in the collective minds of Grier and Flores. Else we may see Rosen depart to NE, Saints or GB and there goes another 60% Brady (nothing to sneer at, 300 TDs, + 3 SBs!!!)

  3. Avatar

    Michael Wise

    April 17, 2020 at 1:35 pm

    I haven’t given up on Rosen and I hope the dolphins haven’t either. I do not want Fitzpatrick as the starter this year simply because it will set the QB room back another year. I think the drafted QB this year and Rosen should have a competition to determine the starter. Hopefully we will will have at the least a reduced season with at least 8 to 10 games. The players will need that to become accustomed to playing with each other an to gain experience in their new systems. The winner of the QB competition will need to start in the new system with their new teammates. I am one of probably a very few people that are hoping the dolphins draft their QB in the 2nd round and double down in the later rounds with another QB. Whatever happens I will still be excited to follow the dolphins draft and will be looking forward to supporting the players they choose.

  4. Avatar

    Bob Barrow

    April 17, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    Look at the history of the Dolphins through ownership. Those numbers tell me everything as to their problem.

  5. Avatar

    Bill Martin

    April 17, 2020 at 2:31 pm

    I’d like to see what Rosen can do as well. He’s now had a significant period of mentoring and should have a much better O-line and running game to play with. I think he’s as good if not better than the 3 QBs most often linked to Miami in the coming draft (Tua, Herbert, Love).

  6. Avatar

    TPL

    April 18, 2020 at 9:40 am

    Rosen is gonna be in the mix. Maybe he starts, maybe not. But Miami’s best move is to fortify the team around the QB. Maybe draft one mid to late in the draft.

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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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