Miami Dolphins quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) and Josh Rosen (3) running drills during practice at the Baptist Health Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Davie, Fla., in preparation for their game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)
The winless Miami Dolphins have again changed starting quarterbacks because coach Brian Flores changed his mind.
Ryan Fitzpatrick will make his first start since Week 2 when the Dolphins play at Buffalo on Sunday. Flores had previously said Josh Rosen would remain the starter after Fitzpatrick came off the bench and nearly rallied Miami to its first victory last Sunday against Washington.
“We moved the ball better with Ryan in the game, and I think we need to stay with that,” Flores said Wednesday. “Came to that conclusion over the last couple of days. We feel that was the best thing for this team, and it’ll give us the best opportunity for this team to go up into a tough environment and try to pull out a win.”
The Dolphins (0-5) are 17-point underdogs against the Bills (4-1).
“I’m excited,” said Fitzpatrick, 36, who played for the Bills in 2009-12. “I just enjoy playing football. I like being out there. It’s a lot more fun for me to be out there and playing. Preparation is a lot more fun when you’re the guy, so I’ll be lot happier day to day knowing I’ll be out there.”
Fitzpatrick started the first two games of the season, and Rosen started the past three. Rosen had perhaps his worst game of the year Sunday and was benched at the start of the fourth quarter with Miami trailing 17-3.
Fitzpatrick led the Dolphins to two late touchdowns, doubling their season total, but they failed to convert a two-point try in the final seconds and lost 17-16.
With the frantic rally, the inconsistent but sometimes dynamic veteran lived up to his nickname of FitzMagic.
“Historically there have been times in my career, whatever team it has been on, that we have gotten on a little bit of a roll,” the 15-year veteran said. “That momentum is a fun feeling. Hopefully there’s a lot more of that to come.”
Rosen acknowledged he played badly and had no quarrel with being demoted.
“I’m bummed out, but if coach wants to make the decision, it’s his decision to make,” Rosen said. “I wish I would have made it a little tougher on him. But it’s a long season. I’m going to continue to push Fitz and be there for him, like he was there for me.”
The decision undercuts this week’s criticism that the Dolphins were sticking with Rosen because they’re intent on finishing with the NFL’s worst record to secure the No. 1 draft pick. Rosen’s demotion also underscores the likelihood Miami will use its top pick next year to take a QB.
Rosen ranks last among qualifying quarterbacks in passer rating, completion percentage and yards per attempt, and the second-year pro is 3-13 as a starter.
“For him it’s got to be day-to-day improvement,” Flores said. “That was the conversation I had with him. He’s still a young, talented player, and there’s still a lot of room for development with him, and we’ll continue to develop him in practice.”
Fitzpatrick’s statistics are only slightly better, but he threw for 132 yards in one quarter against the Redskins, with no sacks or interceptions.
The Dolphins are on pace to score 134 points, which would be the fewest by any team in a 16-game season.
“Offensively we need more production,” Flores said. “We got that out of Ryan the other day for a quarter.”
The revolving door at QB is nothing new for the Dolphins, who have had 21 starters at the position since Dan Marino retired nearly 20 years ago.