With the Dolphins first regular season game just over a month away, the question of who will be leading their offense still remains. It’s a battle between longtime vet Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen, who is about to begin his second season in the league. So far, the Dolphins seem to be relying on Fitzpatrick, as they are installing Chad O’Shea’s offense during the preseason.
Head Coach Brian Flores spoke to the media before practice on Wednesday and indicated that as of now, it is likely going to be Fitzpatrick with he job to start the season.
Dolphins Live: Coach Flores meets with the media ahead of Training Camp. https://t.co/95hwK9lH4K
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) July 31, 2019
“It’s pretty clear to me that Ryan Fitzpatrick is leading the way, I think he’s done that in a lot of areas from leadership to production on the field, in the meeting rooms, in the walkthroughs. I think this is an ongoing competition, but right now I’d say he’s leading the way.”
Many believe that former Arizona Cardinals number one pick Josh Rosen, whom the Dolphins acquired in April will eventually be the quarterback at Miami will turn to. And again, that could happen as soon as the preseason unfolds or to begin the regular season in September.
Further, Sun Sentinel writer Safid Deen has reported that Rosen has been a top performer at Dolphins training camp the past two days.
Top performers from #Dolphins training camp Day 7: CB Nik Needham (ran with the 1s after his INT); WR DeVante Parker (catch of the day; QB Josh Rosen (he actually put two good days together). Holla at me @OmarKelly.
— Safid Deen 💯💯💯💯 (@Safid_Deen) August 1, 2019
But, for now, the 15-year veteran Fitzpatrick seems to have more of a command of what Miami wants to do, offensively.
Fitzpatrick was the on-again-off-again starter in Tampa Bay for the Bucs the last two seasons, including his spectacular first two weeks a year ago. That’s when he was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week back to back by throwing for 400+ yards in wins over the Saints and the Eagles.
Miami landed Fitzpatrick is a free agent on a two-year deal in March, but clearly they have been and continue to search for a quarterback for the long-term future. And in this case with acquiring Rosen, Fitzpatrick will be an excellent resource to help in his development this season and beyond.
Still, for weapons like receiver Kenny Stills, second year tight end Mike Gesicki, and running back Kenyan Drake, they need a strong, experienced leader of the offense. And that’s something that Fitzpatrick, who’s started 126 games for seven different teams in his previous 14 seasons, can bring.
Pass interference overrule in Jets win over Dolphins shows flaws
The inconsistent application and rulings of the new NFL pass interference replay policy was, again, on full display Sunday afternoon at The Meadowlands. And when the league’s officiating command center gave the Jets a first down on a pass interference call that wasn’t even made by their game officials, it helped New York kick the winning field goal to beat the Dolphins 22 – 21.
And, understandably, Dolphins coach Brian Flores was none too happy with the whole thing.
Although Flores refused to elaborate about why he went running after and arguing with the officials before his post-game handshake with Jets coach (and former Dolphins boss) Adam Gase, it was clear he was none too pleased with the ending to the game.
From last nite…The afternoon for Brian Flores and Adam Gase: Emotions decided by an unseen strangerhttps://t.co/XkUmph2hWK
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) December 9, 2019
To reset the scene, the Jets were driving trying to retake the lead trailing 21 – 19. This was after Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders had made his seventh field goal from 37 yrards for Miami to hold a two-point advantage.
Then on a 3rd and 18 play, Sam Darnold’s incompletion to Vyncint Smith may or may not have been enough contact to throw a flag. The on-field officials let it go.
But, that’s when the NFL supervisor of officials Al Riveron, his assistants and the command center initiated a replay review, as it was under two minutes remaining in the game.
Eventually Riveron overruled the on-field refs, and he gave the Jets the pass interference call, a first down at the Miami 38, and it eventually led to Sam Ficken making the game winning field goal from 44 yards out with no time left.
Now, it was not the first time, even recently, that the NFL has done this in the final two minutes with the game on the line. In the Buccaneers win over the Arizona Cardinals last month, Riveron and the command center overruled the on-field officials having not thrown a flag. That’s when Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans was clearly interfere with in the end zone, as Tampa Bay was looking for the go-ahead touchdown.
The Buccaneers got a first and goal at the one, scored and won the game 30 – 27.
Further adding to the confusion and controversy is that the NFL has been so reluctant to overturn flags for pass interference, one way or the other, throughout this first year of using instant replay for pass interference.
However the command center in New York has now demonstrated, not just with the Evans situation but even another case in the Dolphins-Browns game a couple of weeks ago, that they will use replay to overrule their on-field officials and make a penalty call in the final two minutes of a half or game.
Our Jason Cole wrote that this aspect of the review mechanism is troubling and potentially only going to get worse. This is because the league is interjecting themselves rather than backing their guys on the field who didn’t throw a flag unless it is blatantly obvious.
Back to Sunday, Miami had numerous chances, especially early, to get touchdowns while moving inside the Jets 10 yard line. However, three times, Sanders kicked a field goal of 28 yards or less giving Miami only nine points at the half.
The Dolphins had plenty of struggles in losing to Gase/their AFC East rival, and the replay decisions out New York aren’t going to make anyone feel any better about it.
“Mountaineer Shot” earns Dolphins K Sanders AFC honors
One of the great trick plays, not just of this NFL season but in recent pro football memory, has earned the Dolphins kicker who caught a touchdown pass Sunday AFC weekly honors.
The league announced Wednesday that kicker Jason Sanders, who became the first place-kicker to catch a touchdown pass in 42 years, is the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week:
Special Teams Players of the Week (Week 13):
— NFL (@NFL) December 4, 2019
Sanders also made his only field-goal attempt, as well as two extra points, earned the weekly honor for Miami’s 37 – 31 upset of the Eagles.
However, it is the play that is known as “Mountaineer Shot” that Sanders will forever be remembered for not just in Dolphin history, but NFL.
We wrote about the play on Monday, as head coach Brian Flores and special teams coordinator Danny Crossman implemented the direct snap to punter Matt Haack, while players were spread wide on either side of the formation.
Haack then, took the snap, rolled left and when the Eagles rushed at him, he flipped the ball to Sanders for the touchdown. The play is named for the center, Kilgore, because he played at Appalachian State, whose nickname is the Mountaineers. And, it’s something that Dolphins had been practicing regularly on and off for the past two months.
Furher, as for the historical aspects of the play, Sanders became the first kicker to catch a touchdown pass in an NFL game since Baltimore’s Jim Turner did it in a game in 1977.
It is also the first time since the AFL – NFL merger in 1970 that a punter has completed a touchdown pass to a kicker and the play will live on for years and years to come.
It is the second time that Sanders has won the AFC special teams player of the week award this season. He also got the honor for his two clultch 48 yard field goals in the fourth quarter of the Dolphins 16-12 upset of the Indianapolis Colts in November.