The Miami Dolphins walked away from Hard Rock Stadium Thursday night in victorious fashion to open the preseason slate, scoring a late fourth quarter touchdown to knock off the Atlanta Falcons, 34-27. The quarterback comparison between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen was the ultimate storyline.
Fitzpatrick worked the first two series in the first quarter, finishing 2-for-5 with 20 passing yards. On Miami’s opening offensive drive, which led to a Jason Sanders 48-yard field goal, the former Harvard product led a 10-play, 49-yard drive, eating away 5:06 off the clock. On 3rd-and-2 from the Miami 29, Fitzpatrick escaped an Atlanta blitz and picked up a first down after a six-yard run. Fitzpatrick’s longest pass was a 14-yard strike to DeVante Parker, who ran a great comeback route on 2nd-and-4.
Fitzpatrick’s second series was rough, as the Dolphins worked a three-and-out, gaining just two yards.
Rosen entered the contest with 13:13 remaining in the second quarter. Rosen, who was acquired during the second-round of the 2019 draft and a former 2018 first-round choice, finished 13-for-20, 191 yards, 1 interception and a total QBR of 75.2. Throughout, there were good moments and “what are you doing Josh Rosen” moments.
Rosen’s first pass attempt was intended for Kalen Ballage and incomplete, but a roughing the passer call on Atlanta wiped the incompletion away. There was an unexpected star of the night, as Preston Williams, an undrafted wide receiver out of Colorado State, led the team with 97 yards on four receptions. Rosen targeted Williams on a couple of wobbly throws, but somehow, Williams managed to secure the catch.
Rosen’s first series resulted in a one-yard Kalen Ballage rushing touchdown, giving the Dolphins a 10-6 advantage midway through the second quarter. Rosen’s second series was one to forget. Facing a 1st-and-20 from their own 16, Rosen threw an interception in double coverage. Rosen’s offensive line was a major concern Thursday, as the former UCLA product received little to no protection on a consistent basis.
On the third series, Rosen tossed two incompletions while facing heavy pressure, and took a sack on 3rd-and-10. Rosen worked a final series before the end of the first half, hooking up with Williams on a deep 36-yard completion, in which Williams snagged with one hand and Brice Butler for 17 yards. On 1st-and-10 from Atlanta’s 24, Rosen found Williams for an 18 yard completion, too.
Electing to kick a field goal, Sanders was true from 23, cutting the Falcons’ lead to 19-13 at the intermission. Rosen’s second half was actually quite impressive. Rosen connected with Allen Hurns, a former Miami Hurricane and Williams for a 27-yard gain, resulting in a Mark Walton rushing touchdown. Rosen’s final pass of the night, opening the final quarter, was to Hurns, but the Miami native fumbled the football.
All in all, Fitzpatrick is expected to get the nod under center this upcoming Friday night against his former squad, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Josh Rosen will get plenty of reps and Jake Rudock will likely see the field midway through the final period. I was simply impressed with Preston Williams Thursday night. Williams’ playmaking ability showed the Miami coaching staff he is here to stay.
If Williams is able to flash next Friday night, August 22 Vs. Jacksonville and August 29 against New Orleans, Williams will earn a starting role with the wide receiver unit. As for Miami’s offensive line struggles, it must get cleaned up as soon as possible. Plenty of times Fitzpatrick and Rosen had to scoot away from pressure because a hard hit was incoming.
I am not concerned with the center and left tackle spots, because when the regular season opens in one month, Daniel Kilgore will hold center duties and Laremy Tunsil will be at left tackle. Tunsil did not play on Thursday. Since Ryan Fitzpatrick was limited to just two offensive series, Fitzpatrick should finish the entire first quarter against Tampa Bay next Friday night.
This story was written by Brandon Liguori. Follow him on Twitter: @BrandonRLiguori
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