Power of 'why': Dolphins encourage QB Josh Rosen to ask more questions

Cameron WolfeESPN Staff Writer5 Minute Read

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DAVIE, Fla. -- Josh Rosen's favorite question is "why?" and he won't apologize for it.

The new Miami Dolphins quarterback is trying to rewrite his narrative after a tumultuous 2018 season with the Arizona Cardinals. Yet Rosen believes his inquisitiveness is a part of what makes him special, and something he refuses to change.

"I will not run a play on a football field unless I know why we're running it and what we're trying to accomplish," Rosen said in November. "That's just how I function. I don't run a 4.5 [-second 40-yard dash], so if things go bad, I can't just hit the exit button. So I like to understand a playbook in its entirety."

Fair or not, Rosen's propensity to question his coaches on the reasons behind certain plays and scheme decisions earned him criticism in the past.

The power of "why" is important for Rosen, and early indications show Dolphins coaches are encouraging their young quarterback to ask questions about anything and everything. That could be huge news for Rosen and his development.

"I want my players to want to know the why. I think in order to get a player to really believe in what he's doing, he should know why," coach Brian Flores said. "I think that's coaching. If players don't ask why, they should be asking why. Is it through doing what we ask them to do? Yes. Should they ask why they're doing it so they can believe in a little bit more? I think so. I've always kind of challenged my players to ask why. I challenge my coaches to be able to give them an answer as to why."

Rosen said Tuesday he "appreciates" being part of an organization where that mindset is prevalent.

Dolphins offensive coordinator Chad O'Shea is preparing to call plays for the first time, and he views comfort as a key factor in how successful Rosen or veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick will be in his offense.

"If they're really not inquisitive about the whys, then they're never really conceptually going to understand the offense," O'Shea said. "Josh is highly intelligent just like Ryan and Jake [Rudock] are in our quarterback room. Having smart guys in the quarterback room is a good thing. I think those guys aren't afraid to ask why, and we're not afraid to answer.”

As Fitzpatrick and Rosen begin their battle for the Dolphins' starting quarterback job this week, coaches are ready for whatever comes their way.

"You've got to be on your game to come in and present information to them, because they're going to have a lot of good questions as a whole. Josh is included in that," assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski said. "You can kind of see the look in their faces. If you're going through something and they kind of turn their heads a little bit, you know the question is coming."

Former UCLA coach Jim Mora brought the "why" issue to life in an interview with The MMQB's Peter King in April 2018, saying this about Rosen: "He needs to be challenged intellectually so he doesn't get bored. He's a millennial. He wants to know why. Millennials, once they know why, they're good. Josh has a lot of interests in life. If you can hold his concentration level and focus only on football for a few years, he will set the world on fire. He has so much ability, and he's a really good kid."

Rosen, 22, clearly heard Mora, and responded with a simple "Why?" tweet accompanied with a shrug emoji. He talked to a local radio station about Mora's comment later that week, saying, "I ask a lot of questions and the whole 'why' thing. ... It's the dumbest thing I've ever heard."

The "why" comment sparked even more criticism and speculation about Rosen's willingness to be coached. And Mora wasn't the only coach to highlight Rosen's inquisitiveness.

"Josh is going to piss off half the people," Trent Dilfer, who coached Rosen at the Elite 11 quarterback camp, told "The Rich Eisen Show" in January 2018. "But the people that get it, the people that really like him, the people that understand what it means to be the best at the highest level will get that he has that stuff."

If we take Dilfer's words to be true, maybe the Dolphins will "get it" and will get the best out of Rosen. If so, it would mean Dolphins general manager Chris Grier's trade for Rosen becomes an all-time steal, getting a franchise quarterback on the cheap.

The signal-caller has already expressed excitement with the number of quarterback-savvy assistants he will get to work with, including quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell, who coached Peyton Manning for a decade.

"He's got a clean slate here," Caldwell said of Rosen. "He's in a new system [with] a different group of guys, and we're looking forward to it."

The Rosen experiment is underway in Miami, so prepare for a lot of good questions.

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