While most Dolphins fans will be concerned with the quarterback play of grizzled veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and whether newly-acquired second-year QB, Josh Rosen, will play on Sunday, it’s the quarterback on the other sideline who Miami should be most concerned about Sunday.
Former Heisman Trophy winning QB Lamar Jackson gets set to begin his second NFL season, and his first, since being installed as the full-time starter for the Ravens. And, the speedy Jackson will pose as many problems with his legs, as his arm, for the aqua and white.
Jackson took over late last season as the Raven starter after former Super Bowl winning QB Joe Flacco suffered a hip injury. Baltimore promptly rolled off win after win with Jackson becoming the first quarterback in league history to run for at least 70 yds. in five consecutive games.
Although they lost a Wildcard playoff game the next week to the L.A. Chargers, it was still obvious that Jackson, who was drafted at the end of the first round in April 2018, was the quarterback the Baltimore was ready to turn to you.
So, they traded Flacco away in the offseason to the Denver Broncos making Jackson’s job security, for now, obvious.
Now, Baltimore has a new offensive coordinator in veteran play-caller and former Lions head coach, Marty Mornhinweg. And, Ravens fans are anxious to see if Jackson’s throwing and touch on the ball that they’ve seen glimpses of in the preseason will become a reality for the regular season starting Sunday.
Obviously, Dolphins coach Brian Flores has a defensive background previously from New England. And Flores knows that Miami better have second and third level defenders ready to cut off and chase Jackson at Hard Rock stadium Sunday.
That challenge will likely fall on linebackers Jerome Baker and Raekwon McMillan. McMillan, who’s been held out of preseason due to undisclosed injury, is not on Miami’s injured list this week. So, that’s a good sign that he’s ready to play and, better be ready to run.
Look for Miami to also utilize safeties Xavien Howard and Minkah Fitzpatrick to come up and help stop Jackson and his mobility.
It will be interesting to see if Mornhinweg and head coach John Harbaugh give Jackson the green light to duck the ball and take off, like he did so often in 2018. In his seven starts down the stretch of last season, Jackson ran the ball at least 11 times in all of them and had four games where he ran the ball 17 times or more.
Jackson averaged 4.7 3 yards per attempt on his 147 rushes a year ago for nearly 700 yards and five TDs.
Again, Dolphins fans will scrutinize everything from Ryan Fitzpatrick’s accuracy to his beard, as he starts on Sunday, but, the real challenge is stopping the guy wearing number 8 in Ravens purple.
Or, it will be a long day in South Florida.
Dolphins reverse course- will start Josh Rosen Sunday
In a move that fits the pattern of seemingly having no true plan of how to get better and, further being willing to change or get rid of personnel on any whim, coach Brian Flores and the Dolphins have done “a 180 turn,” and will now start second-year quarterback Josh Rosen in Dallas Sunday.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 19, 2019
After being adamant for the last three days the team would continue to start veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, even after two dismal games where the Dolphins lost by a combined score of 102 – 10, Flores and the organization have obviously decided that now is the time to see what Rosen can do.
We at F.F.I. called for this move on Monday, as Miami’s offense could be truly no worse than what it has looked like in the losses to Baltimore and the Patriots at home.
And sooner or later you have to give Rosen an extended look to find out, if he has some promise to be a quarterback of the future or at least, part of the mix as a backup etc., for 2020 and 2021.
Clearly, Miami is doing everything they can to lose every possible game they can and get their best draft position in 2020.
To that end, the Dolphins traded 2018 first round pick defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday acquiring their number one pick. This added on to the blockbuster trade of left tackle Laremy Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills where the Dolphins acquired the Texans number one and number two picks this year and their first round pick next year.
The Dolphins stuck Rosen in Sunday’s disaster with New England with nine minutes to go and trailing 43-0 and he threw 18 passes, completing only seven and also had an INT while being sacked three times. Rosen even managed to roll his ankle, but kept playing, but only in worthless garbage time.
Rosen, who was acquired in an April draft night trade with Arizona, was 3-10 last year as a starter with only a 55% completion percentage and 11 touchdowns vs. 14 interceptions with the Cards.
Now, considerably handicapped on offense without Tunsil and Stills, etc., we will see what the former UCLA first round pick can do against the formidable Cowboys.
Dolphins trade Minkah Fitzpatrick to Steelers
The Dolphins remained true to their “lose at all costs” mentality for 2019, as they dealt last season’s #1 pick, DB Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Steelers on Monday night.
TRADE: Steelers are trading a 2020 first-round pick to the Dolphins for DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 17, 2019
As we wrote earlier Monday night, Fitzpatrick has been disgruntled in Miami just two horrible games into their season and was given permission to seek a trade last week. Apparently, Pittsburgh came up with the best offer, first, to get the former Alabama All American.
Fitzpatrick, who the Dolphins took with the 11th overall pick in the 2018 draft, is disgruntled in part, because of the Dolphins “veteran purge” that has gone all in all offseason, stripping them of experienced talent everywhere. He further has been unhappy with new head coach Brian Flores and defensive coordinator, Patrick Graham, moving him to different positions all over the defensive secondary in the preseason and the first two games of the year.
Fitzpatrick started and played significantly in most of Fins Sunday blowout loss to the Patriots 43-0 that dropped them to a dismal looking 0-2. And Pro Football Focus gave him a decent grade for Sunday:
Minkah Fitzpatrick was the highest-graded #Dolphins player in Week 2
— PFF MIA Dolphins (@PFF_Dolphins) September 16, 2019
GM Chris Grier continues to stock pile draft picks for the “named players” on his roster. This included the huge deal trading of starting LT Laremy Tunsil and WR Kenny Stills on the eve of the season to the Houston Texans. Miami got the Texans next two #1 picks and their second rounder in 2021 in that deal.
The acquiring of the Steelers first rounder gives Miami three opening round picks now in next April’s draft.
Reportedly, the teams are also swapping fourth (Miami’s) and fifth round picks in 2020 and sixth (Pittsburgh’s) and seventh rounders in 2021, as part of the deal.
Grier had been busy getting rid of other veterans in the off season. This also included dealing players like QB Ryan Tannehill and DE Robert Quinn in March, veteran WR Danny Amendola being cut after just one season in Miami and Pro Bowl DE Cam Wake being allowed to walk away in free agency.
In addition to trading Tunsil and Stills, Grier dealt his most productive tackler the last three years, Kiko Alonso, to the Saints at the end of preseason, too.
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