The Miami Dolphins continue their ongoing evaluation of whom will start the season at quarterback between veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and second-year newly acquired, Josh Rosen. And on Monday morning, coach Brian Flores announced that after Rosen had started game two last Friday night in Tampa, Fitzpatrick will be back under center to begin the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars this Thursday.
Flores met with a media prior to the Dolphins latest workout on Monday but also said not to read too much into the latest QB switch:
Brian Flores says not accurate to say Ryan Fitzpatrick is projected starter vs. Baltimore – yet. Ideally, will have one QB this year. Potentially name starter after this week but not set in stone. #miamidolphins
— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) August 19, 2019
Miami started Rosen against the Buccaneers, whom they acquired from the Arizona Cardinals in a draft weekend trade. And, as we wrote, he was largely ineffective for most of Friday night’s first half that he played.
The final stat line read 10-18 102 yards 0 TD and 0 INT, which indicates an average half of football.
And, yes there were damp conditions from pregame rain in Tampa, but Rosen on multiple occasions threw behind or low towards receivers that were open for possible gains. He was also jittery against the Bucs occasional blitz package from new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and Rosen was sacked three times and knocked down several others.
A key moment of scrutiny was when Rosen was unable to get the team in the end zone after they got outstanding field position on a Buccaneers 31 yard line midway through the first after fumble buy backup running back Andre Ellington. The Fins moved inside the 10, but Tampa Bay held Miami on fourth down, where Rosen threw incomplete in the right corner of the end zone to backup receiver Isaiah Ford and Miami came away with no points.
While Flores tried to make it clear that the media and fans should not read too much into going back to Fitzpatrick as an indication on who will be the opening day starter, it will likely be the veteran when Miami hosts the Baltimore Ravens on September 8th.
Miami obviously knows what they have in the 15-year veteran Fitzpatrick, who started the first three games of last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And he led them to two victories and was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for both of the first to win in 2018.
However, just because Fitzpatrick starts the Jaguars game Thursday night, doesn’t mean Rosen won’t play in the first half with the first team to get another look for new offensive coordinator, Chad O’Shea.
The game Thursday night will also be televised nationally by Fox and the Jaguars are expected to play their starters throughout the first half, and perhap, into the early part of the third quarter.
That will give Fitzpatrick and maybe, Rosen, ample opportunity to see what they can do against a quality defense.
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.