The 2-6 Cardinals have very few positives to take away from their 2018 season thus far. Expectations were much higher for a team with superstars such as Larry Fitzgerald, David Johnson, and Patrick Peterson. Back in April, Arizona made the choice to select their quarterback of the future with quarterback Josh Rosen. The plan was to sit him for a year behind veteran Sam Bradford. However, it quickly became obvious that Bradford didn’t have what it takes to lead this team and the rookie gunslinger took over.
With an unoriginal offensive scheme under since-fired coordinator Mike McCoy and the worst offensive line in the NFL, it’s difficult to evaluate what the Cardinals truly have in Rosen. Now that we’ve hit the season’s midway point, we’re going to go over the eye test, the stats and the hidden variables to determine what we think of the rookie so far.
The Hidden Variables
Not every part of an evaluation can be done in a vacuum. Sure, you can measure certain things, however, the quarterback is one of eleven men on the field for the offense. That’s without even bringing in the head coach, the offensive coordinator, the play-caller, the quarterback’s coach, etc. So we’re going to look at what is working both in Rosen’s favor and against it.
In Rosen’s Favor
Skill positions. Easily one of the biggest tools for Josh is the available talent around him. David Johnson, despite his lack of production, is still one of the most gifted players in the NFL. Larry Fitzgerald has shown he can still produce when given an opportunity, finally breaking through the end zone and the 100 yard mark for the first time this season the last few weeks. Christian Kirk is a great piece and will continue to get better each week. The connection of Kirk and Rosen in the long-term is going to be a winning combination on offense.
Also working in his favor are his mechanics. Even with the low numbers, Rosen throws a beautiful spiral from a number of different leverage positions. Though he is best when he can plant his back foot and drive the ball, he’s shown the ability to adapt his feet placement and arm angles when necessary. When the team improves the line so that his scrambles are rarer, he will tear apart zone coverages for years to come.
Against Rosen’s Favor
As noted before, the offensive line is the worst in the league. It’s contributed to the low rushing numbers and high sack numbers. Rosen is a pocket passer at his best, and when there’s no pocket, he can’t be his best.
The other major thing that has been working against Rosen is the play calling. The running game has been next to useless most weeks, which allows defenses to hang back on the pass without punishment. Similarly, it takes the bite out of the play-action. When a young QB is turning his back to the defense to make a fake and has rushers in his face as soon as he turns around, that young QB is going to run into some problems.
How’s Rosen Doing: Conclusion
Not great but have patience.
Many didn’t expect Josh to set the league on fire his rookie season but the popular thought Sam Bradford would have put up a better fight before he lost the job. On the rare occasions that the offense is on the same page, he’s done well. When things break down, Rosen has made some poor decisions, and attempted some throws that may have worked at UCLA, but not in the NFL.
Cardinals fans have a lot to be excited for, but in order to get to the payoff, they’ll have to endure this hellish season. The Cards started 2-6, and I think 5-11 would be an acceptable end to the season considering the embarrassing level of play thus far.
Be patient. The Rosen One will not fail. The pieces aren’t around him yet.