If the thought was that the third preseason game would provide some quarterback clarity for the Dolphins, what we got instead was maybe a little more quarterback confusion.
Head Coach Brian Flores said earlier in the week that what happened in the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars wouldn’t necessarily determine who would end up winning the starting quarterback battle, but he conceded after the Dolphins’ 22-7 victory that Rosen’s performance gave him reason to pause.
“He played well, and that makes the decision harder,” Flores said. “I think that’s pretty clear, clear and evident. Again, there’s other things at play here. Fitz played well, I thought, and there’s some things … when you’ve got a young quarterback, again, I’m a proponent of not rushing that, not rushing the process for young players. So we’ll make the decision for what we think is best for Josh, Fitz, and this team.”
When exactly that decision will be made remained unclear after the game Thursday night.
The Dolphins still have one preseason game left — against the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on Thursday night — before they turn their sole focus on the Baltimore Ravens, who come to Hard Rock Stadium for the regular season opener Sept. 8.
“We’re, what, two and a half weeks away from opening day?” Flores said. “We’re going to get started on Baltimore fairly soon, and we’ll make that decision hopefully or definitely by then, by the time we get started for Baltimore.”
Since starters almost never play in the preseason finale, we should get a strong indication Thursday at the latest as to who will end up getting the start against Baltimore on Sept. 8.
Again, though, Flores wasn’t dropping any hints after the Jacksonville game when he talked about his quarterback plans for the preseason finale.
“That’s something we’ll discuss as a staff,” Flores said. “They may both play. They may both not. We’ll see. We’re still evaluating both guys. If we feel like we need to see a little bit more, we’ll do that. If we don’t, then you’ll see more of one or the other.”
For the two participants, it continues to be business as usual, which means focusing about their performance and leading the offense and letting the coaches worry about the starting battle.
In his two-plus quarters of action against Jacksonville, Fitzpatrick completed 12 of 18 passes for 126 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions for a passer rating of 105.3.
Fitzpatrick and the offense managed only 47 net yards in the first half, but the Dolphins marched 86 yards on 11 plays the first time they had the ball in the second half.
"Yes, I would have liked to have gone out there and played better the first half for sure, but I think what you do is you try to learn from what happened,” Fitzpatrick said. “You try to grow, whether it’s throughout the game or the next week, and build up to that first game. I take positives out of this game because I think we got better because of it.”
Rosen ended up going 5-for-7 for 59 yards with no touchdowns and no picks and a passer rating of 96.7.
His 99-yard drive featured a brilliant 39-yard completion to Isaiah Ford when he threw while rolling to his right after escaping pressure in the pocket, as well as two scrambles for 25 yards. The second was a 14-yard run to the Jacksonville 5-yard line that converted a third-and-14 and came immediately before Patrick Laird’s 5-yard touchdown run.
“I thought I made a couple of good plays,” Rosen said. “Still definitely messed up a couple — even two plays that actually were successful plays. I kind of messed up a little bit, but there’s always ways to improve. My motto has been making the next day better than the previous, and I think today was better than yesterday and last week.”
Rosen displayed both quarterback’s mind-set in regards to the competition for the starting job when he was asked whether he felt he had achieved a goal against Jacksonville of making it a tougher decision for Flores.
“You’re going to hate my answer, but my goal is to play better than last week, and I think I did that to a small degree, to a degree,” Rosen said. “The competition, that’s his thing. So questions you ask with him go back and forth between you guys, but for me, I’m just trying to handle my business and trying to make next week better than this week.”