Dolphins change QBs again, to start Fitzpatrick

DAVIE, Fla. — The Miami Dolphins are making another quarterback change. Coach Brian Flores announced that Ryan Fitzpatrick will start Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.

The move sends Josh Rosen, who started Miami’s last three games, to the bench.

“Kind of came to that conclusion over the last couple of days. We felt like that was the best thing for this team,” Flores said Wednesday. “[Fitzpatrick provides] the best opportunity for this team to go into a tough environment and try to pull out a win.”

Fitzpatrick, who started Miami’s first two games, nearly led the Dolphins to a 14-point fourth-quarter comeback last Sunday against Washington after Flores benched Rosen. But Miami (0-5) failed to convert what have been the winning two-point conversation and lost 17-16.

Dolphins players said after the game that they had a different energy and level of play when Fitzpatrick entered the game.

“We need to be more productive on offense,” Flores said. “It’s a team game, so players respond to each other and the group. The quarterback has the ball in his hands on every snap. … Players on every team have to respond to the quarterback.”

Flores said following Sunday’s loss that Rosen would remain the starter because he provided continuity, but he kept the door open for a switch. That move officially came Wednesday after the Dolphins began their practice week.

Flores’ decision to bench Rosen for the second time in as many weeks seems to be an indication of how Miami feels about the second-year quarterback. Flores said last week that Rosen was “settled” as the team’s quarterback, but he noted Wednesday that Rosen’s lack of production and poor play made him change his mind after three quarters Sunday and again on Wednesday.

Rosen ranks last among starting quarterbacks in completion percentage, quarterback rating, QBR and yards per attempt. He recorded a total QBR of 2.1, the second-worst QBR game of the season (behind former New York Jets quarterback Luke Falk in Week 5.) His air yards to the sticks was -8.9 (meaning he averaged throwing 8.9 yards behind the sticks), per NFL Next Gen Stats. That’s the lowest AYTS game for any QB this season with a minimum of 14 attempts.

“We have a lot of confidence in Josh. For him, it’s gotta to be a day-to-day improvement, getting better and continuing his development. That’s the conversation I had with him. He’s still a young talented player. There’s still a lot of room for development for him. We’ll continue to develop him in practice. But at the end of the day, we’re looking for production at all positions. We felt like playing Fitz would be in the best interest of the team.”

Rosen, a 2018 first-round pick, was traded to Miami from the Arizona Cardinals in April once his former team selected Kyler Murray as its quarterback of the future. He hoped to prove to Miami that he could be their long-term quarterback, but it hasn’t gone well thus far.

The Dolphins are strong contenders to be in the market for a quarterback in the 2020 draft, where they have three first-round picks including the projected first overall selection.

Fitzpatrick, 36, said he had a lot of fun in Sunday’s game, and noted the confidence of his team on that last drive.

“That’s why I still like to be out there playing the game,” Fitzpatrick said Sunday.

Now he gets another start against one of his former teams in Buffalo, where he played from 2009-2012.

“(We’re) getting ready for Ryan Fitzpatrick and what he brings to the table — good quarterback, experienced, brings good energy, can make every throw, gets the ball out,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said after hearing news that the Dolphins were making a quarterback switch. “We have a lot of respect for Ryan.”