The Dolphins’ offseason program has mercifully come to a close.
That means everyone can exhale and take a break from the breathless analysis of the quarterback contest between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen.
This is a time of hyper scrutiny about everything in every aspect of public interest. And, yes, Dolphins coach Brian Flores did say, “Everything counts,” including how players performed play to play, day to day during the past four weeks of OTAs and minicamp.
But he also said the game and the team is fluid, and he’s not announcing a depth chart going into training camp.
Thus, there is no basis for any of us who have watched a handful of practices over the past four weeks to draw any definitive conclusions about the QB sweepstakes or other position battles.
Somehow, we’re getting blow-by-blow critiques of confrontations between linemen before anyone has donned a pad.
Career disappointment DeVante Parker is being awarded gold stars as a June sensation.
Maybe the 2014 first-round pick has finally found his Zen as an NFL receiver. But let’s wait till fall, lest we’re left with fool’s gold again.
As for the quarterbacks, in spring ball Fitzpatrick did look like a seasoned veteran of 14 seasons and Rosen like a guy beginning his second season with his second team trying to find his way as a pro.
As is be expected.
Even Rosen was watching Fitzpatrick for clues, saying, “Whatever he does well, I’m trying to figure out why he did it and emulate it and continue to add my own flavor to it.”
What to watch in training camp
How that dynamic evolves beginning when camp opens in a couple of months will be the prime source of intrigue through the preseason, and it won’t necessarily end when the regular season starts.
We certainly don’t know how it’s going to play out based on these past few weeks when neither does Flores and his staff.
These sessions did whet my appetite for what training camp and exhibition games will reveal. Such as:
Will 2019 first-round pick Christian Wilkins establish himself quickly as an anchor of the defensive line?
Will third-rounder Michael Dieter look as at home as a potential starting guard when the pads go on as he did in shorts?
Will Mike Gesicki turn athleticism into production at tight end in his second season or does he still lack the physicality for the NFL?
Will anyone generate a pass rush?
Will linebackers Jerome Baker and Raekwon McMillan take significant steps in their second year as starters to elevate a suspect corps?
How will talented but raw rookie Preston Williams fit into a solid group of receivers.
But what I’m most interested in watching is what Flores and his staff accomplish with a roster that clearly is not deep in quality.
Like with the players, there is no basis to draw conclusions about the coaches based on offseason performance.
I do like qualities that Flores has shown. He is genuine and has a clear view of what he believes are the elements that go into building team success.
Coaching matters more in football than in the other team sports. We’ve seen how Bill Belichick maximizes personnel to win year after year in New England.
Can Flores bring that knack to Miami after years as a Belichick assistant? Now he’ll be measured not only against the master as a division rival but also against his Dolphins predecessor, Adam Gase, now with the Jets.
A question of coaching?
With that in mind, the biggest revelation from the offseason sessions was talented defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick talking about the difference for him so far in the Flores/Patrick Graham defensive scheme.
While Fitzpatrick will be used in multiple roles, as he was as a rookie, he said he never quite grasped the ever-changing plan for him last year under then-defensive coordinator Matt Burke, saying in a Miami Herald story, “It was kind of all over the place. It was sporadic.”
Not only are his duties more clearly defined now, he told the Herald that new D-coordinator Graham has shown him some tough love in video sessions:
“They showed me some of the good plays. Some of the things that I was doing well. Some of the things I’ve improved on. It really helped me. Because it’s humbling. They’re not going to lie to you. I love and appreciate it, because great coaches are not going to lie to players. I think it’s definitely good that they coach us like that.”
Who knows where those methods will lead? It will be something else to watch as the summer unfolds and the fall reveals whether a different staff can turn around last year’s historically poor defense and produce more consistent offensive results.
Craig Davis has covered South Florida sports and teams, including the Dolphins, for four decades. Follow him on Twitter @CraigDavisRuns