Josh Rosen doesn’t have any of the offensive linemen in front of him that the Cardinals expected to have, and his receiving corps is Larry Fitzgerald and a group trying to prove itself in the NFL.
It’s not ideal, and it’s been rough.
But the Cardinals are not going to put their rookie quarterback on the bench with the thought of preserving his well-being.
“I think Josh is getting valuable reps,” coach Steve Wilks said Monday. “He can’t get enough. Talking with (offensive coordinator) Byron (Leftwich), there are so many different looks that he needs to see. In saying that, I think we have to do a great job from a protection standpoint – whether it is moving the pocket, seven-man protections – to help Josh.
“To sit him, I don’t think it’d be advantageous to do that. (Playing) is an opportunity for him to continue to grow.”
Isolating just what kind of advances Rosen has made his first season has been made difficult because of the situation in which he must play. Not only have personnel shuffling, injuries and ineffectiveness around him hurt, a midseason change in coordinators made for a bumpy debut as well.
Wilks still believes, however, the Cardinals have been able to properly assess Rosen.
“You can see the potential and the things he is capable of doing,” Wilks said. “I can go back throughout the season and pull positive things – the two-minute drives, the winning drives, the things he’s been able to operate under duress – so he has the qualities and the skillset. The inconsistency is there, but a lot of it is not just him, it’s the personnel and that falls back on us as coaches to put those guys in position to be successful.”
Rosen threw for 240 yards Sunday, his highest total since the 252 he had during the home win against San Francisco Oct. 28 and tied for the second-most in a game. Much of it came late, however, and was not indicative of how most of the game unfolded.
Wilks said most of the time, Rosen does a good job of keeping his eyes downfield amid the pass rush. That changed some against the Lions, and impacted Rosen going through his progressions.
Then there was the crucial interception by Detroit cornerback Darius Slay which was returned 67 yards for a touchdown. Wilks said receiver Trent Sherfield needed to do a better job coming back for the ball, but Slay said he “baited” Rosen into making the throw. Rosen made a similar point.
“That’s why I’ll maybe go away from him next time,” Rosen said.
Rosen knew video review was going to be difficult the day after, given all the mistakes, but was something “that needs to happen.”
For the season, Rosen has completed 55.4 percent of his passes, with 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and a 68.3 passer rating in 11 games. By comparison, top overall pick Baker Mayfield of Cleveland is having by far the best rookie year of the top 10 quarterbacks, with a 64.4 completion percentage, 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and a passer rating of 93.4. The Jets’ Sam Darnold has completed 55.9 percent of his passes, with 12 TDs, 15 interceptions and a 69.5 rating, and the Bills’ Josh Allen is at 52.4 percent completions, 5 TDs, 12 interceptions and a rating of 62.8.
Continued work with Leftwich will help, Wilks said. That won’t help with the personnel Rosen has on offense, but Wilks said he doesn’t think Rosen is developing any bad habits in his current situation.
“I don’t want to say bad habits,” Wilks said. “Is he inconsistent at times? Yes. Could he be better with his reads? Yes. Those are some of the things we have to emphasize and work on.”
Top Ten Shots: Lions-Cardinals
Some of the best images from Sunday's loss to Detroit