If there’s one thing that Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores doesn’t want to hear, it’s that an NFL team isn’t playing to win. He bristles at the thought that players and coaches aren’t putting forth every effort in practice and on the field with winning as the end result.
And as the 2019 season winds to a close for a 3-11 Dolphins team that is heading for a top-5 pick in the NFL draft, questions came up in a recent press conference about the team evaluating players with an eye on the future.
In particular, some fans would like to know why quarterback Josh Rosen continues to ride the bench when it’s fairly clear that the team knows exactly what they have in starter Ryan Fitzpatrick, but may not have a good snapshot of Rosen, who was obtained via a trade from the Arizona Cardinals in April. Rosen has started 16 NFL games, three with Miami, is still only 22 years of age, and with a strong QB class in the upcoming draft, many are wondering if the Dolphins have seen enough in Rosen to delay taking a franchise QB in next April’s NFL draft.
Flores put that one to bed pretty quick.
“I understand the question with Josh and (Ryan Fitzpatrick)” Flores said. “I think Josh has done a lot of good things in practice. He really has. He’s throwing the ball well, he’s making good decisions, he’s throwing with more accuracy. At the end of the day, Fitz has also played well, and he has a rapport with the team. Not that Josh doesn’t - Josh does as well and he’s building from that standpoint.”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement, in this writer’s opinion.
In 6 appearances with the Dolphins and three starts, Rosen’s stat line doesn’t look very good. One touchdown, five interceptions, and a passer rating of 52.0 will get NFL quarterbacks benched, and that’s exactly what happened as Flores decided to go with Fitzpatrick for the rest of the season, something he reiterated this week.
“Josh Rosen is a very talented player,” said Flores. “I think we all know that. I think he’s making a lot of improvement like I’ve been saying for the last few weeks. We’ll see where it goes. But right now, for this team, and this week, we’re going to play Fitz. We just feel like going with Fitz is the best thing for us to try to win the game on Sunday.”
Going with what he feels is in the best interest of the team is a philosophy that Flores has touted since the day he entered the building in Davie. He knows that there will always be people that question his decisions, but he is adamant that each decision he makes is done with a purpose.
“I think it’s easy for people to sit and say ‘you should do this or that,’” says Flores. “I don’t think those same people will stand in front of that group and say ‘this is in the best interest of the team for us to win this week.’ That’s no knock on Josh. Maybe you think that’s in the best interest, but you’re not in front of this team every day. You’re not in the trenches. Those are decisions I have to make, and we as a coaching staff, we go through this diligently, and we come out of it with that decision. And we feel like that’s the best thing to do.”
Flores says the coaching staff is always evaluating where players are making progress, where they are coming up short, and trying to help them along the way.
“We’re always trying to win,” he said. “But part of winning is obviously playing well, practicing well, preparation, and all of those things are being evaluated. That’s for every player, every coach. Everything we do is being evaluated. Each guy has to go out there and play well individually and play well as a group - offense, defense, special teams - whatever your role is. If you do that, then things normally take care of themselves.
“From meetings to walkthroughs to all of the preparation, as a coaching staff we’re with them on a daily basis, and I think we have a good feel for what that is. For Josh and the steps he’s got to take, I think he’s taken those steps. I think in due time, he’ll get his opportunity.”
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter: @EJFootball
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