Miami Dolphins 2019 season preview: Quarterbacks are still the talker

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)

The Miami Dolphins are ranked No. 32 in ESPN's preseason Football Power Index. Here's everything you need to know about the Dolphins heading into the 2019 NFL season:

The big question: Will Josh Rosen show enough to become the Dolphins' starting QB in 2019 and beyond?

The Dolphins don't want to rush Rosen onto the field and the fact he isn't starting Week 1 proves it. Rosen has shown considerable improvement in recent weeks but coach Brian Flores believes he still isn't a better option than Ryan Fitzpatrick right now. The biggest factor here is the rebuilding Dolphins haven't given Rosen a roster that will allow him a chance to succeed. He could have the NFL's worst offensive line and a subpar supporting cast for the second consecutive season. Rosen has a certain standard of consistency he must reach before he is considered the Dolphins QB of the future, but Miami might have already decided to draft a quarterback in 2020. -- Cameron Wolfe

Offseason in a nutshell

The Dolphins went all-in on on a full-scale rebuild. So, yes, the 2019 season is likely to be rough rather than mediocre. Dumping quarterback Ryan Tannehill and choosing not to re-sign DE Cameron Wake and OT Ja'Wuan James signaled a new era where the focus is becoming a contender in 2021 more than 2019. But choosing to trade LT Laremy Tunsil and WR Kenny Stills shows the Dolphins are a strong candidate for the No.1 overall pick in 2020 to draft their quarterback of the future. Dolphins GM Chris Grier is expected to have more than $100 million in salary-cap space and at least 12 draft picks in 2020, when the team can be more aggressive going after big-name free agents. -- Wolfe

Inside the Dolphins' schedule

Most important game: Week 2 at home against the Patriots. It's the game folks circle on the calendar in Miami every season and it gains added significance because it will be first-year head coach Brian Flores' first game against his mentor, Bill Belichick. The Dolphins have had tremendous success against the Patriots in Miami in recent years -- most notably the Miami Miracle last December -- and we will see if that continues.

Toughest stretch: The Dolphins face Baltimore, New England, Dallas and the L.A. Chargers -- all 2018 playoff teams -- in September, but the benefit is three of the four games will be in the blistering Miami heat.

Over or under 5.4 wins? Under. The Dolphins are likely to be one of the NFL's worst teams -- expecting them to be even a five-win team after their offseason veteran purge seems like a stretch. The Dolphins' offense looks as if it will be hard to watch because of a troublesome offensive line. It's going to be a tough going in 2019. -- Wolfe

Schedule ranking: No. 18

Welcome to the AFC East, where even the worst projected team has an easier-than-average projected schedule. That's because the Bills and Jets aren't forecast to be very good, either, plus all the AFC East teams get easy projected games against the bottom of the NFC East. We'll see if it's true that Miami has an advantage in the early-season humidity, because four of the Dolphins' first five games come at home. But they also have to go to cold New York and New England for three games in December. -- Football Outsiders | See the full 1-32 ranking

Breakout fantasy star: TE Mike Gesicki

Gesicki was scooped up in the second round of the 2018 draft and -- as often the case for rookie tight ends -- did very little in his first season. Gesicki was limited to 202 yards on 32 targets, struggling to 9.2 yards per reception (fourth lowest) and 6.3 YPT (eighth lowest). Gesicki's pedigree of speed and athleticism -- coupled with Miami's shaky group of offensive weapons -- should lead to a boost in targets in his second season. -- Mike Clay | More fantasy coverage

The view from Vegas

Super Bowl odds: 300-1 (opened 200-1)
Over/under: 4.5 (O -130/U +110)
Playoff odds: Yes +1100, No -2500

Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook as of Sept. 2.

Bold prediction: Don't test Howard

Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard will lead the NFL in interceptions for the second consecutive season. Howard had seven interceptions in 12 games last season and has 11 over his past 17 games. Teams might try to avoid Howard this season, but he will shadow No. 1 receivers and aim to make quarterbacks pay when they test him. -- Wolfe

Where the Dolphins landed in NFLRank

Speed reads before the opener