Hal Habib @gunnerhal
May 14, 2019 at 3:24 PM
May 14, 2019 at 3:24 PM
DAVIE — The 38 days that Ryan Fitzpatrick had as the unquestioned starting quarterback of the Miami Dolphins also served as a 38-day head start on his competition, Josh Rosen.
Tuesday, it showed.
Although it’s far too early to draw conclusions, Tuesday was the first time the South Florida media was allowed to watch the Dolphins’ quarterback competition during OTAs.
In a nutshell: Rosen had issues with a few quarterback-center exchanges and threw an interception that likely would have been a pick-6 had it occurred in a game. Fitzpatrick had no egregious issues in moving the offense with regularity. And both quarterbacks had moments in which they fit balls into tight spaces.
Speaking of tight windows, the margin for error for both is small — smaller for Fitzpatrick, 36, than he thought when he signed as a free agent. But he said he wasn’t put off by the Dolphins trading for Rosen, 22, during the draft.
“I’ve always had to earn every opportunity that I’ve received, so I love it,” Fitzpatrick said. “I love the competition. I love being out here and every day, whether it’s a competition with myself or somebody else, trying to be the best me that I can be.”
When the Dolphins sent two picks to Arizona to obtain Rosen, it was with the hope he’ll become their franchise quarterback, and it certainly would be in their long-term best interest if he won the job quickly. But he’s in only his second NFL season. Fitzpatrick is in his 15th. That raises the question of whether Fitzpatrick is willing to mentor Rosen. Joe Flacco caused a stir in Denver when he expressed no desire to bring along first-round pick Drew Lock.
Dolphins coach Brian Flores didn’t say Fitzpatrick must mentor Rosen, but he does want all his players to assume leadership roles.
“I expect Ryan to compete for the starting position,” Flores said. “I expect him to lead from the quarterback room but really the entire offense. Obviously he has a wealth of knowledge and a lot of experience. Again, there is competition but at the same time, we’re trying to build a team.”
Fitzpatrick straddled the fence on how much of a teacher he sees in himself.
“I think the way that I’ve done it throughout my career, whether I’m the guy or not the guy, is I try to prepare the best way I can prepare and do the things that have gotten me where I am in my career,” Fitzpatrick said. “And if guys choose to view that as an example and follow it, they can. If they don’t, they can do whatever they want.”
That’s not to suggest there’s a frosty relationship between the two. Both men said just the opposite is true. When asked about Rosen, Fitzpatrick went so far as to feign a response of, “Uh, I don’t know” while pivoting around to warily eyeball Rosen.
“No,” Fitzpatrick said, turning serious. “You know what? He’s been great so far. We’ve got lockers right next to each other and just getting to know him a little bit, you know I’m from Arizona, so we’ve got some chatter about some local Arizona hot spots.”
Rosen is known for his smarts, and Fitzpatrick attended Harvard. Enough said.
“Some of the stuff he talks about reminds me of some classmates I had in college a little bit, you know?” Fitzpatrick said. “Some of those topics — sometimes not necessarily things that I want to be talking about. But he’s definitely an interesting guy.”
Fitzpatrick was alluding to Rosen being able to explain the intricacies of his cleats, which were made of recycled ocean plastic. We could go on about how they’re constructed, but put yourself in Fitzpatrick’s shoes as Rosen explains:
“I think it’s kind of important. We hear about keeping the bigger picture in mind, and we get to play this game and have a blast, but we’re also in a city that is at severe risk of the effects of global warming and climate change.”
Obviously, Fitzpatrick and Rosen do have other things to talk about.
“I think we’re going to have a really good relationship,” Rosen said. “So far our quarterback room has been a lot of fun. He likes to goof around but he works really hard. I think he’s been in this league a really long time and if I can take at least even a couple of lessons I think it will treat me really well in the long run.”
Fitzpatrick began Tuesday morning’s drills with three consecutive completions, including a rainbow to DeVante Parker over two defensive backs. Rosen responded by finding tight end Clive Walford about 15 yards downfield before trying to force a pass that was intercepted by linebacker Sam Eguavoen, a free-agent signee who played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL last year.
On and on it went, Rosen threading a pass to Preston Williams, Fitzpatrick going deep to Kenny Stills. The most notable plays that followed included a split decision by Rosen: He was denied a deep completion when Parker dropped the pass, but he underthrew Williams, turning what should have been a nice gain into an incompletion.
It’s nothing Fitzpatrick hasn’t been through before. He just came from Tampa Bay, which has Jameis Winston.
“I’m here because this was an opportunity that I would have a chance to play, to compete,” he said. “It was a job that was open and I know that nothing is ever going to be handed to me. So I enjoy it. I enjoy being out here.”
Fitzpatrick wouldn’t say if he would have signed with the Dolphins had Rosen already been in place.
“Hard to say because that’s not how it was,” Fitzpatrick said. “But all I could say is I’m very excited to be here and excited for the opportunity.”