Fins coach tabs Fitzpatrick leader in QB battle

Dolphins' QB competition far from over (1:25)

Jeff Darlington explains how Ryan Fitzpatrick being named the front-runner for the Dolphins' starting quarterback job affects Josh Rosen. (1:25)

DAVIE, Fla. -- Brian Flores made his first significant lean in the Miami Dolphins' starting quarterback competition, giving the strong early edge to veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick over Josh Rosen.

"It's pretty clear to me that Ryan Fitzpatrick is leading the way," the first-year Dolphins coach said. "He's done that in a lot of areas, from leadership to production on the field to the meeting rooms to the walk-throughs. This is an ongoing competition, but right now he's leading the way."

Flores' words confirm what has been apparent to those who have watched practice since the spring. Fitzpatrick has dominated the starting reps and has been clearly the more consistent quarterback since the competition began in May.

But in what Flores has called a "wide-open" and "even" competition publicly for months, this comment that Fitzpatrick is the clear leader marks a checkpoint in the Dolphins' quarterback battle.

Fitzpatrick has already developed some good chemistry with projected starting receivers Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker.

"He's been more productive, and at the end of the day that's what it comes down to," Flores said. "He runs the offense very efficiently. He has great rapport with the entire team. He has a lot of leadership ability, and we need that to continue. We need him to grow in that role."

The Dolphins acquired Rosen, who is entering his second season, from the Arizona Cardinals for a 2019 late second-round pick and a 2020 fifth-round pick during draft weekend just one year after the former UCLA product was the 10th overall pick in 2018.

Fitzpatrick reflected about the rollercoaster nature of his career when thinking about Flores naming him the leader in the QB competition. He feels like he's had his highest peak toward the end of his career.

"I never take these opportunities for granted," Fitzpatrick said.

Rosen has been seen as a potential long-term answer at quarterback if he can turn it around after a tumultuous rookie season. Fitzpatrick, 36, has acknowledged that this is a temporary arrangement for him with the Dolphins given he's near the end of his career, but he signed as a free agent in March because the team provided an opportunity for him to start.

Rosen said the team got an idea of how Flores said the QB competition before he made an announcement to the media Tuesday, but he is focused on controlling what he can control because battle is ongoing.

"I would say it's just a bigger and better challenge to fight," Rosen said. "I would much rather compete against the best guy that I can because if I beat him, I know I'm that good, and if I don't, I've got someone to learn from and build with, and he's been awesome with me and helping me out."

Debate has raged for months about whether the rebuilding Dolphins would choose Fitzpatrick's short-term performance edge or Rosen's long-term potential in this quarterback battle.

Flores' comments Tuesday make it clear that the best man will win, and right now that looks to be Fitzpatrick.

"It's still a competition. Every day is a competition. I think they all know that, but as we stand today I think Ryan has done a really good job," Flores said. "Hopefully he continues to improve and is consistent and that will help this team for sure."