Ryan Fitzpatrick, new to the Dolphins this season, had a solid first day of training camp on Thursday.
DAVIE, Fla. — A great battle to be the Miami Dolphins’ starting quarterback has begun and the competitors couldn’t be more different.
In the right corner stands a wily veteran with a personality and beard that could earn him write-in votes for mayor. If we want to follow coach Brian Flores’ promise of hard work, competition and honesty, then the best performance should win and Ryan Fitzpatrick has to be the favorite to hold this sought-after mantle for Week 1.
In the left corner stands a ray of hope, a chance for a long-term answer to the Dolphins’ two-decade quarterback problem. If the Dolphins are truly rebuilding and aiming to do what’s best for the long term, Josh Rosen makes the most sense as a young quarterback full of potential that needs to be harnessed.
Josh Rosen did a good job self-scouting his practice: “I had a slow start but finished pretty strong.” Among his highlights were a sharp TD to Nick O’Leary.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has been consistent since arrival but as Brian Flores made clear today battle is nowhere near decided yet. pic.twitter.com/XzB2kwTGKD
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) July 25, 2019
Therein lies the dilemma.
Flores holds the final decision — he did declare the battle wide open even after Fitzpatrick’s more impressive spring — but we’re here to preview the battle starting with Thursday’s action from Miami’s training camp.
Fitzpatrick got the starter reps to kick off the day — like he did for most of the spring — and he looked to be the more consistent QB. Rosen accurately described his performance as “a slow start but finished pretty strong.”
Fitzpatrick demonstrated a certain level of comfort, experience and flavor when throwing. He had repeated strong connections with Kenny Stills, who looked like he was in regular-season mode, and DeVante Parker, who also had a good day. Fitzpatrick didn’t make any apparent egregious mistakes, although he referenced a couple of miscommunications after practice.
Rosen made a poor decision on an interception to undrafted free agent DB Montre Hartage. He also had to run to the T.N.T. wall at least once because of a botched handoff with running back Mark Walton. But it wasn’t all rocky and, as Rosen mentioned, he had a strong finish — particularly in the red zone. His highlight play was a laser to Nick O’Leary for a touchdown despite a defender right on the tight end’s hip.
Both quarterbacks downplayed the increased pressure, each employing the cliche of “one day at a time.”
“Whether I was starting, backup or third string, it doesn’t change my approach day-to-day,” Rosen said. “You guys are writers and it’s in the forefront of your brains, but it’s in the back of mine.”
Fitzpatrick described his Day 1 performance as “OK,” saying the team has a “ways to go.” But he was impressed with the work put in by the players in the 95-degree heat.
“It was hot. We’re going to use this to our advantage,” Fitzpatrick said. “This heat is tough to practice in but it has to be an advantage for us, especially early in the season.”
The Flores take
Miami’s head ball coach said he doesn’t have “a concrete deadline” on deciding on a starting QB, but early indications are this battle will go deep into the preseason and it won’t stop even after a Week 1 starter is decided.
“We are in the evaluation from now and throughout. With how guys develop, the light bulb goes off for certain guys at certain points. There’s always an opportunity for changes to be made,” Flores said. “That’s a good thing for everybody on the team. There are no spots that are slotted. There are no sacred cows. Our organization needs that competition. The best players are going to play.”
Quote of the day
“I don’t mind the nice ones. When I was in Buffalo, Amish Rifle creeped up a little bit. That one was funny. I don’t mind any of them because there are a lot of bad things people can call me, too. So I’ll take whichever one I can get.” — Fitzpatrick on his bounty of nicknames, including FitzMagic (an overall favorite) and Fitzy (Flores’ favorite).
Fitzpatrick, 10-9 round.