Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores tabbed veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick as the team’s Week 1 starter, choosing him over second-year signal-caller Josh Rosen.
“After a thorough evaluation of OTAs, training camps, games, practice, we felt like this was the best move for the team going into the season,” Flores said following Thursday night’s preseason finale in New Orleans, a 16-13 win in which both Fitzpatrick and Rosen sat out. Rosen was in uniform in case of an injury to Jake Rudock, who played the whole game.
“Ryan’s done a really good job from a leadership standpoint, from an execution standpoint, and we feel like that’s the best thing for this team,” Flores added.
Fitzpatrick finished the preseason 17 of 32 for 166 yards and a touchdown, good for a 78.4 rating. Rosen was 28 of 45 for 352 yards and an interception, with a rating of 77.3.
Fitzpatrick, 36, will be starting for an eighth different team in his career when the Dolphins host the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 8. He threw for 2,366 yards, 17 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in eight games (seven starts) for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year.
“I’m excited to get out there and lead this team and do the best I can out there,” he told reporters. “It’s a situation I’ve been in for multiple franchises, and I’ll lean on my experience a little bit and try to get the guys out there, everybody on the same page and communication and a lot of excitement.”
Flores said the decision, which was made in the last “week or so,” doesn’t reflect poorly on Rosen, the 10th overall pick in 2018 whom the Dolphins acquired for second- and fifth-round picks from the Arizona Cardinals in April.
“I think he’s improved greatly over the course of training camp,” Flores said of Rosen. “This is a young kid who works extremely hard. It’s important to him. He’s talented. But playing quarterback in this league, it takes some time. He’s in a new offense.
“I think he’ll get there. I do, I really do. I think he’ll get there at some point. When? I don’t know. A lot of that’s up to him.”
Rosen, 22, threw for 2,278 yards, 11 touchdowns and 14 interception in 14 games (13 starts) for the Cardinals as a rookie.
He told reporters he’s encouraged by the progress he made during training camp and the preseason after feeling like he was “drinking through a fire hose” early on.
“(Flores) told me that I’ve made a lot of really good, steady upward progress,” Rosen said. “I think it’s only (a matter of) time that this team is mine, but until then, I’m going to be as supportive of a backup as I can and push (Fitzpatrick) every single day.”
Asked if there’s a plan to get Rosen starts later in the season, Flores affirmed his belief in Fitzpatrick and declined to get into hypotheticals.
“You don’t go into one of these (seasons) saying, ‘He’s gonna start for this amount of games and then…’ That’s not how you do this,” Flores said.