DAVIE – The race to selecting the Dolphins’ starting quarterback is essentially a slog through the swamp.
That is the impression coach Brian Flores gave Monday as he reflected on the performances of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen in the second exhibition and looked ahead to Thursday’s next test.
Flores previously indicated Fitzpatrick will likely start against the Jaguars at Hard Rock Stadium, but he said that doesn’t mean the veteran has won the job.
Based on his comments about the progress he saw from the quarterbacks over the past week in the practices and game at Tampa Bay, it’s evident he’s waiting for one of them to prove worthy of the starting role.
Asked specifically about what Rosen, the upstart, needs to do to win the job, Flores said, “He can’t take as many sacks as he’s taking. He’s got to step up in the pocket. He’s got to have command of the offense. … He’s got to get the ball out quicker. He’s got to do all those things.
“I would say the same for Fitz and Jake [Rudock]. … At the end of the day, it’s about our offense moving the ball and putting points on the board.”
That was certainly lacking Friday against the Buccaneers. Flores gave a laundry list of reasons for that.
“We had some drops, we had some penalties, we had some negative plays in the run game. Sacks. Those are some things we need to clean up as a collective group,” Flores said.
Playing the entire first half, Rosen was sacked three times while completing 10 of 18 passes for 102 yards. The offense generated two field goals in the half.
An offensive line trying to find itself was partly to blame in the sacks. But as Flores pointed out, the quarterback’s decision making is a factor too.
In Rosen’s case, the second-year signal caller is still learning when to throw it and when to fold it.
“Sometimes the right play is to take a sack. You’ve got to know when the journey’s over,” Flores said. “Other times, you’ve got to get the ball out quicker. So there’s a fine line between all those things.
“Every play is a little bit different and each quarterback is a little bit different. But we don’t just want to take sack after sack after sack. We can help that by getting the ball out a little bit quicker, stepping up in the pocket. And that’s about footwork and fundamentals, and those are things we’ll be working on this week.”
Clearly, it would be in the Dolphins’ best interests for Rosen to win the quarterback job. He’s a young talent; they gave up a second-round draft pick to get him.
It is also apparent that Flores is challenging Rosen to show – not only the coaches but the team – that he has earned the privilege of starting. He hasn’t seen it yet.
That’s why, approaching the third exhibition game, which is generally considered the dress rehearsal for the regular season, Flores wouldn’t say conclusively that he will know his starting quarterback after Thursday.
“Potentially we would be able to make that call. But we may not,” he said.
Craig Davis has covered South Florida sports and teams, including the Dolphins, for four decades. Follow him on Twitter @CraigDavisRuns
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