Cardinals Ring of Honor quarterback Jim Hart was visiting Wednesday when he had a chance to chat with rookie quarterback Josh Rosen.
Among the advice he dispensed to Rosen, who was sacked five times in Kansas City, was from a man who was once sacked a mere six times in an entire 14-game schedule.
“I told Josh, ‘Stay healthy, but you can help that by throwing the ball and not sitting back there for five seconds,’ ” Hart said.
Rosen’s much-discussed development at the most important position on the team comes with it many facets. The pressure and beating he was forced to handle against the Chiefs goes beyond physical punishment. It’s also about making sure Rosen doesn’t take a mental beatdown that some other good young quarterbacks have endured, sometimes derailing the future.
“Regardless of what happens, you have to approach every situation in life, every snap, every day at the facility … the same as if everything is going great or if everything is going poorly,” Rosen said. “It’s about consistency. You kind of want to be a rock for other guys who may be looking for some sort of steadying force.”
Troy Aikman and Peyton Manning got past early ugliness. Tim Couch, one of Bruce Arians’ all-time favorites, did not. Neither did David Carr, whose career with the Texans was swept away by the undertow of constant pass rush harassment and the corresponding lack of success.
Carr’s brother, Derek, quarterbacks the Raiders, the team the Cardinals host Sunday. Derek Carr has had a rough season, although when Oakland reporters suggested it might be as bad as what his brother once went through, Carr smiled.
“It’s not that bad,” Carr said.
Even Derek Carr, five years into his career (and once the poster child for quarterbacks the Cardinals did not decide to draft), still has some questions about how he will trend in the future.
“There are a lot of experts right now that have to get inside the building a little bit more to say he’s regressed,” Gruden said. “We’ve been playing without a lot of players, we’ve been playing from behind a lot. I’m not making any excuses. He’s still completed a lot of passes, he’s thrown for a lot of yards, he’s a great competitor. This is a tough stretch we’ve been under, he’s the quarterback and I’m the coach, we’ve just got to battle. But I have a lot of confidence in Carr as a player.”
Rosen has waved off any notion that what he faced in Kansas City might have any long-term effects. His confidence, obvious from the day he arrived in Arizona, seems unchanged. He acknowledged a couple of times when he “chucked” the ball against the Chiefs instead of remaining calm in the pocket.
“It’s definitely a point of pride for me, to stand in the pocket and not get flustered,” Rosen said. “Whenever I see ghosts, I get mad at myself. That’s what quarterback is all about.”
Those are the reasons the Cardinals have been comfortable with how Rosen’s rookie season is playing out. While coach Steve Wilks said his staff has to be smart – for example, being creative in protections to make sure Rosen’s season doesn’t get sideways – “these are quality reps for Josh.”
“Quarterbacking in this league is hard,” offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said. “When things get bad, this kid tends to be fine.”
Back in his second year in the NFL in 1967, Hart felt under similar fire. An undrafted player who arrived to St. Louis sixth on the quarterback depth chart, he was suddenly a full-time starter in Year Two, sometimes feeling unprepared.
Expectations were different than for Rosen, a first-round pick, but Hart said a quarterback couldn’t show cracks either way.
“You have to be strong, as much for yourself as your teammates,” Hart said. “If they see you hanging your head, then they question. You have to stay strong, even though inside you may be roiling.”
On the field some 50 years later, Rosen sees it the same.
“A bit of it is not as much how you react for your performance,” Rosen said. “It’s how you react which affects others’ performance.”
Cardinals players face off with military personnel and their families in the annual Pros vs. Joes video game challenge.