HEADLINE

Woeful Dolphins visit rolling Cowboys in first road trip

Field Level Media

September 19, 2019 at 11:35 pm.

It’s hard not to feel sorry for the 0-2 Miami Dolphins.

Besides being outscored by 92 points so far this season and being last in just about everybody’s NFL power rankings, the Dolphins also have played a tough schedule. They started with the Baltimore Ravens (2-0) and followed that up with the New England Patriots (2-0), the defending Super Bowl champs.

On Sunday, the Dolphins will visit the 2-0 Dallas Cowboys for their first road test of the season, apparently with a new starting quarterback.

According to multiple media reports Thursday, Josh Rosen will make his first start instead of veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is 25 of 50 for 274 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions through two games. The team had not confirmed the news, but head coach Brian Flores said earlier in the week he was evaluating the quarterback position.

Rosen was acquired from the Cardinals for a second-round pick in April, just a year after Arizona made him the 10th overall pick.

The only concerns for the Cowboys at the moment are injuries. Two starters have been ruled out for the Dolphins after getting hurt in Sunday’s win over the Washington Redskins: safety Xavier Woods (ankle) and wide receiver Michael Gallup (knee). Gallup led Dallas with seven catches for 158 yards and one score in its Week 1 win over the New York Giants.

Look for Darian Thompson to replace Woods, considered an emerging star, in the starting lineup as part of a secondary that was thought of as Dallas’ biggest weakness even before the injury.

The injury to Gallup is less problematic, as Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott already has three big-time playmakers in running back Ezekiel Elliott, wide receiver Amari Cooper and tight end Jason Witten.

In addition, the Cowboys have former New York Jets second-round pick Devin Smith at wide receiver. A bust in New York, Smith led Dallas against the Redskins with 74 receiving yards, catching all three passes thrown his way, including one for a 51-yard touchdown.

“We can run the ball well and pass the ball well,” Cooper said. “How can you prepare for that?”

It’s a good question.

Prescott, a two-time Pro Bowl selection who is on the verge of a large contract extension, has been on fire this season, completing an NFL-best 82.3 percent of his passes for 674 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception. He is the first Cowboys quarterback since Don Meredith in 1966 to throw seven TD passes in the first two games of the season.

Elliott, who has led the NFL in rushing in two of his three seasons, missed virtually the entire preseason while negotiating what became a six-year, $90 million contract extension.

After gaining just 53 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries against the Giants — “Obviously, I was a bit rusty,” he said — Elliott rebounded with 23 rushes for 111 yards and one touchdown against the Redskins.

So, how are the Dolphins preparing to stop this machine?

It doesn’t appear they are even trying to win now, as they traded 2018 first-round safety Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a first-round pick earlier this week. Fitzpatrick became the fourth Dolphins starter — joining left tackle Laremy Tunsil, linebacker Kiko Alonso and wide receiver Kenny Stills — to get traded for draft picks in the past three weeks.

The Dolphins are clearly rebuilding, looking toward next season and beyond, but that doesn’t help what’s going on in the moment.

Oddsmakers have taken note of the “tanking” strategy turned in by Miami management, making the Dolphins 15-point underdogs for the Cowboys game. The line, in subsequent days, grew to 21 points.

“Getting embarrassed is never fun,” Fitzpatrick said.

The Cowboys waived former first-round defensive end Taco Charlton on Wednesday, after he requested his trade or release, and the Dolphins claimed him a day later. It was unclear if Charlton would play Sunday.

His release cleared a Dallas roster spot for defensive end Robert Quinn, who is returning from a two-game suspension and recovering from surgery on a broken left hand. Quinn’s status for Sunday also was unclear.