There was a moment in Josh Rosen’s first start when he found himself on the ground and Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner looming over him. Rosen reached up, hoping Wagner might give him a lift. Nope.
And that’s the first thing Rosen brought up when asked about his first start in the NFL.
“I remember asking for help from Bobby Wagner, and him not giving me any,” Rosen said with a smile. “Some guys made fun of me, but it was funny.”
Wagner, it turned out, had his reasons.
“He’s a rookie, man,” Wagner said during his press conference this week. “It was his first game, right? He’s a rookie. I think he was in a two-minute, maybe no-huddle, and it’s like, ‘Alright, you’re the guy about to snap the ball. I’m not about to help get your offense straight. This go-round, I’ll probably help him up. I’m a little nicer now. It’s the holiday season.
“There was no malice. I honestly didn’t see it.”
It’s interesting that that was Rosen’s most vivid memory. Now we’ve come full circle in Rosen’s – and the Cardinals’ – season. The year got sideways early, and it was always going to be about Rosen’s development. The rookie looked good that day, with drops (and a late missed field goal) undercutting the chance at a 1-0 beginning. Of course, since that day, Rosen has lost a lot of his supporting cast, he hasn’t played as well, and the Seahawks look better than the team that visited State Farm Stadium.
To be able to measure Rosen’s development from Seahawks game to Seahawks game would be ideal, although at this point, it probably wouldn’t be fair. But again, in a year where Rosen’s development became priority one, that’s where the spotlight shines. Rosen needed some help – and not just from Wagner.
-- There will be two things this game itself will be about – whether the Cardinals end up with the No. 1 overall pick and whether or not it is Larry Fitzgerald’s last game. The former will be known in the moment. The latter won’t be known for a while – and in between, we’ll get clarity about what the status of the coaching staff will be.
“Coach (Steve Wilks) said he has to do a better job to put guys in position,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “Me, as a leader and a captain, I am tired of hearing coach say that. As men, we have to look ourselves in the mirror and be up to the challenge. You have to get tired (as players) of getting your behind handed to you.”
-- Fitzgerald will set a record Sunday just by stepping on the field. It will be his 234th game played in the NFL, all with the Cardinals – tying him with kicker Jim Bakken for the most games played in Cardinals’ history. (Hmmm. Another reason to come back another year?)
-- Fitz also needs just 14 yards to get to 2,000 yards receiving against the Seahawks in his career. He’s already reached that plateau against fellow NFC West teams the Rams and 49ers. He’ll become only the second receiver to have such a trio of 2,000 – Jerry Rice topped 2,000 against the Rams, Falcons and Saints.
-- Chandler Jones, who has been shut out in sacks for three straight games, has historically gotten to Russell Wilson. His pledge for $20,000 per sack to Phoenix Children’s Hospital remains active.
-- Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich is still calling Rosen “kid” or “the kid.” “ 'Kid' sticks with him all the way this year,” Leftwich said, chuckling. “He’s a kid until Monday. He’ll be Joshua next year.”
-- Given the short time frame after arrival and the health of the three regular safeties, I wouldn’t be surprised to see newcomer D.J. Swearinger sit out the finale. But again, with Swearinger under contract for next year, he’s a piece for 2019.
-- Andy Lee has a slight edge – a tenth of a yard – as the leading punter in the NFL. Lee is averaging 48.6 yards a punt, with the Eagles’ Cameron Johnston at 48.5. Seattle’s Michael Dickson is at 48.3. Lee, not surprisingly, has the most punts in the NFL this year, with 89.
-- The Cardinals will start their 10th different offensive line combination in 16 games, now that Korey Cunningham is out.
-- With their four more roster moves Friday, promoting a pair of players from the practice squad, the Cardinals have made 307 moves this year, by far the most in GM Steve Keim's tenure.
-- Congrats to Antoine Bethea and Corey Peters, co-winners of the annual “Good Guy” award given by the local chapter of the Pro Football Writers Association. The award is meant to signify the player(s) who have given thoughtful and insightful answers and who were available, in good and bad times. There have obviously been many more bad times this season, but Bethea and Peters have been excellent as team spokesmen, and definitely thoughtful and insightful. It makes sense that they are leaders in that locker room.
-- Another season is just about in the books. Whatever is going to happen in the offseason, it’s going to be busy. It has to be after a year such as this. See you Sunday.