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Opponent analysis: Miami Dolphins quarterback Josh Rosen

Let’s check in on the “other” Josh from the 2018 quarterback class

When the Buffalo Bills traded up to number seven in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, most fans were anticipating that Josh would be selected. It’s a poorly kept secret that there was a contingent of fans who preferred the Josh not taken. Josh Rosen that is. After a tumultuous year in an Arizona Cardinals uniform, Rosen is now the unquestioned starter for the Miami Dolphins. Let’s see how he’s doing.

Author’s note: This was done on Tuesday night assuming Brian Flores hadn’t been lying earlier in the week when he said Rosen would be the starter. There’s a decent chance we’ll still see him in the second half.

Play 1

Look, I’ll level with you. It’s very difficult to evaluate just Josh Rosen. The supporting cast absolutely has to be called into question. And let’s just say that sometimes the offensive line is grateful for the max protect look we see here. I chose this pass as the first one to show you because it’s the pinnacle of what Rosen and the Dolphins can bring to the table when things click. You could maybe argue that the pass would have been better on the outside shoulder but the receiver appeared to have been looking inside the entire way. Regardless, when you tell the refs “No thank you” on a defensive-pass-interference call that means you did some things right.

Play 2

Again, the line isn’t doing Rosen any favors. Overall I was pretty impressed with how Rosen navigated pressure. When there was somewhere to go he often found it and tried to continue the play. On this play he finds the grandson of a famous golfer for a positive play that easily could have been a disaster.

Play 3

Two or three times a game this year Rosen has delivered a horrifically misplaced ball. I think this is supposed to go to the second “maybe” but between this one and a few other head-scratchers I could be convinced otherwise.

Play 4

The Los Angeles Chargers are expecting a pass, what with the empty backfield and all. Miami’s eligible players are smothered and this fast-timing play has no chance. Rosen does a good job freezing the defense for a second with a pump fake and shimmy. He had some practice last year I believe. But he really never had a chance. The Dolphins have relied on faster passing concepts to help negate the line woes. Rosen’s average time to throw sits at 2.6 seconds, which is comfortably in the fastest third of the league.

Play 5

The Dolphins have looked more competitive than you’d imagine for a team that is 0-5 with mostly blowout margins. Against the Baltimore Ravens not so much as they were down by 32 going into the half. Against the New England Patriots it was a two-score deficit nearly through three quarters. The Dallas Cowboys only had a lead of 11 until near the end of the third. Miami was only down by ten against the Chargers until the fourth quarter and it was a tight game against Washington.

I bring this up because there’s far more of these plays than any team should be comfortable with. The play design is fine and the execution is spot on except for a split second from one player. All it would take is one or two of these plays to work out and the Dolphins could shock someone. Especially a team that might be struggling to score points themselves.

Play 6

There’s a few more plays to go but here’s your conclusion on Rosen. He’s not the problem in Miami. When he has time to throw and his receivers catch the ball he’s been solid. At times he’s even been impressive. And not just “impressive for a guy that two teams seem intent on getting killed.” Actually impressive. Pocket movement and some of the throws he’s made would make for a nice highlight reel. Assuming you don’t mind it being light on touchdowns.

Play 7

Most of Miami’s play calling isn’t exactly inspired. Bills fans know how much a bad line and less-than-inspiring personnel overall can limit a playbook. This is an exception. Miami uses max protect a lot. This merely brings their pass blocking to “meh” while simultaneously limiting the number of eligible receivers. This play is a rare inspired moment as they leverage their max protect tendencies to get a quick pass in on second down. Taking all of the above information together, though, it has led to a passing offense almost entirely made out of short passes. Rosen has the third-worst completed air yards in the league with 3.8. This is a measurement of how far the ball is downfield on average for completed passes.

Play 8

This play is here to drive home the fact that Rosen is not holding the team back. Here’s another smart play call, starting with a max protect and shifting out to try to catch the defense off guard. Without the extra help, the offensive line loses to a three-man rush. Rosen recognizes the problem and gets the ball out fast for a positive play.

Play 9

And this one is here to temper that last part a little bit. Rosen still has lapses reading a defense and his five interceptions are usually because he failed to see a second defender. There’s also several plays where he’s hung his receivers out to dry, including one that resulted in an injury.


Sifting through the wreckage of the 2019 Miami Dolphins it’s easy to see nothing more than flotsam and jetsam slowly meandering to the shore. Josh Rosen is more like a single unopened trunk among the debris. It could be treasure or laundry, but either way it’s way more valuable than everything else floating around it.

Rosen is a player I’d really like to see on a team that doesn’t act like they hate his guts. Just like our Josh, he shows enough positive signs to hope he could be a franchise guy. On the Dolphins, the trunk sadly got caught on the anchor and is being dragged to the ocean floor as we speak.