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Josh Rosen’s Low Completion Percentage Isn’t All His Fault

Josh Rosen has the second-lowest completion percentage in the NFL at 54.2, which obviously isn’t ideal.

While the Cardinals’ rookie quarterback has his fair share of inaccurate passes, he is not totally at fault. Next Gen Stats has a metric called expected completion percentage that calculates the projected success of every throw, taking into account receiver separation and pressure on the quarterback.

Rosen’s expected completion percentage is 58.3, which is the lowest in the league, meaning his degree of difficulty is higher than any other quarterback. Rosen said the Cardinals’ offensive philosophy plays into that.

“We’re throwing the ball a little bit less than we were at the beginning of the year, but the shots are a lot deeper,” Rosen said. “So, it’s a high-risk, high-reward kind of thing. Helping our guys up front out with some more six, seven-man protections, we’ve got less receivers on routes. Sometimes, you’re going for the chunk plays, but I’m just trying to get better every week throughout. So, it’s a little bit of the offense, a little bit of I definitely can play better and should play better.”

Rosen is completing 4.1 percent fewer passes than expected, according to Next Gen Stats, which does point to some accuracy issues. However, it’s not as bad as fellow rookie quarterbacks Josh Allen (negative 7.1 percent) or Sam Darnold (negative 6.0 percent). Baker Mayfield has been the best among the top four rookie quarterbacks, only 1.0 percent below his expected completion percentage.

Rosen has a tendency to miss high, but he said that’s calculated.

“You are going to miss, you want to miss sort of (long),” Rosen said. “With some of the faster guys, like J.J. (Nelson) or Christian (Kirk) too, with some of the speed guys, you want to let them really open up, push the edge of it. But missing is missing. You’ve just got to figure it out and not miss.”

Many of Rosen’s throws are into tight windows, as Next Gen Stats computes it at a league-high 21.6 percent. (For comparison, Patrick Mahomes throws only 10.5 percent of his passes into tight windows). Some of that is Rosen being aggressive, and some of it is the receivers not getting away from the coverage or the offensive line not holding up long enough.

The Cardinals need progress from all three facets for the accuracy to improve down the stretch.

QB Josh Rosen looks for receivers in Sunday's win over the Packers
QB Josh Rosen looks for receivers in Sunday's win over the Packers

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