As we wind down the 2020 Training Camp Previews for the Miami Dolphins, the focus narrows down to the all-important position battle at quarterback. It is the most recognizable and critical spot on a football team, and the Dolphins have some extremely intriguing options for this season and beyond.
The leadership for this Dolphins team starts with general manager Chris Grier and head coach Brian Flores and trickles down to the veteran presence of presumed starter, Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Dolphins look likely to start the season with Fitzpatrick but have some great young options to lead this team into the future and command this offense for years to come.
The “bearded one” more than just a placeholder for the future
The Dolphins surprised some teams last season despite a lack of discernible talent on the roster. One of the big reasons for the success on offense was the courageous play of journeyman quarterback and fan favorite, Fitzpatrick. The offense struggled early on as the team rotated between Fitzpatrick and the younger and arguably more naturally talented Josh Rosen.
However, once Fitzpatrick took control of the quarterback position, things seemed to turn around in Miami. Although the running game continued to struggle, the passing game proved to be more potent than expected in 2019. With Fitzpatrick at quarterback, wide receiver DeVante Parker enjoyed a breakout season to the tune of 72 catches, 1202 yards, and nine touchdowns.
I mentioned Parker and those explosive receiving options last month as part of my wide receiver preview for the Dolphins. If the two can continue that magical connection in 2020 under new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, the sky is the limit for this offense. When you then throw in the additions made to the running game, as well as the return of Preston Williams, this unit could be one of the best in the entire AFC. Fitzpatrick is the favorite to start among Dolphins quarterbacks in 2020, but is more than just a stopgap option or placeholder for this team. He has the chance to steer this ship right into the playoffs this season.
The tide is turning with first-rounder Tua Tagovailoa in Miami
The Dolphins have been searching far and wide for their next franchise quarterback since the retirement of Hall-of-Famer, Dan Marino. This team has gone through many different and uninspiring options until the selection of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. The former National Championship winning quarterback for the Crimson Tide is the next great hope for a starving Miami franchise.
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Hope is abound with the Dolphins entering the 2020 season, even though Tagovailoa will begin the season as the backup quarterback to Fitzpatrick. However, “Tua” is the most talented option on the roster and will take over sooner rather than later. After throwing for 87 touchdowns the past three seasons at Alabama, the Dolphins hope that Tagovailoa can bring some of that magic to South Florida.
Tua has shown a tremendous rapport and chemistry with the team early on, which should translate to continuity on the field when the time comes. Now that he looks to be almost 100-percent healed from his hip injury sustained in 2019, Tagovailoa will have a chance to take over at quarterback late in the 2020 season and emerge as the every-week starter for the Dolphins in 2021. The future is bright with Tagovailoa at the helm, but fans will have to be patient with the process in Miami.
Josh Rosen still has a future in the NFL, but maybe as a backup for the Dolphins
Just as the Dolphins did in the 2020 offseason, they entered 2019 with the hope of upgrading their roster overall. Those upgrades certainly included the quarterback position. With half an eye on the 2020 NFL Draft, they were also looking to find their next star quarterback another way and made a 2019 NFL Draft trade with the Arizona Cardinals to acquire a former first-rounder in Rosen.
Rosen struggled during his rookie season in Arizona, but still possessed the tools to be a franchise quarterback in Miami. However, Rosen’s time in Arizona has been mirrored in Miami thus far. His sophomore NFL season was again cursed with inconsistency in his play and problems upfront with the offensive line.
The former UCLA star QB returns to Miami for his third NFL season as the third-string option to Fitzpatrick and Tagovailoa. Although Rosen has stumbled as a starting quarterback, he still possesses the talent to be a quality backup for the Dolphins, despite reports the team are looking to trade him. Once Fitzpatrick decides to hang it up and if Rosen remains in Miami, the Dolphins could be left with one of the best young quarterback combinations in the league in 2021 and beyond.