In real time, it took only a couple of seconds as Josh Rosen flicked his eyes across the field.
Rosen checked out Ricky Seals-Jones – nope, covered – and then Larry Fitzgerald – nope, definitely covered – and then Chad Williams – um, three guys are right there. So Rosen adjusted his body to the right and, with a Seattle defender wrapping his legs, flipped one out to Christian Kirk near the sideline.
“I’m the last read on that play,” Kirk said. “All it is is a diagonal just to try and clear out windows for the curls we had on, and I saw him go through all those reads and last second chuck it out there. That’s how you know he’s so developed.”
Kirk, all alone about two yards beyond the line of scrimmage on second-and-8, caught the pass and scampered seven yards, setting up an easy third-down conversion. And Rosen, once again in his initial NFL start, had a play where he seemed beyond his years and experience.
Rosen’s confidence, of which he makes no apologies, helps the Cardinals in myriad ways. It manifested itself on the field in the pocket, where Rosen stood strong multiple times to deliver downfield, pinpoint throws that look like they will be able to sustain a much better offense going forward.
“I always say Monday through Saturday is for thinking and Sunday is for reacting,” Rosen said. “Not really much is going on in my head back there other than, ‘How am I going to get this ball out of my hand as quick as I can?’ ”
According to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Rosen spent almost a half-second longer in the pocket than Sam Bradford had been – a long time in a world where three seconds is an eternity – and threw the ball in the air an average of more than three yards longer than Bradford had been.
Rosen shrugs when talking about the difference in an NFL pocket compared to college or high school, saying it is basically the same but “when things go bad, it hurts more.”
Praise for Rosen came from many different plays. Backup quarterback Mike Glennon loved the way Rosen stood in the pocket and took a hit when delivering his first pass to Larry Fitzgerald (a ball that Fitzgerald unfortunately could not hold.) Rookie running back Chase Edmonds was impressed with the overturned touchdown pass to Chad Williams (“I was like, ‘That dude is legit.’”) Wilks loved the two downfield into-tiny-windows throws to Seals-Jones.
Rosen was even impressing the guys defending him.
“The thing I liked about Josh was that he was going through his reads,” Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald told 710 ESPN in Seattle. “I can honestly say he would check his first read, his second read. You could tell he was groomed by a good quarterbacks coach. And he’s a lot more athletic than I thought he was.”
Rosen showed multiple times he could find a secondary receiver if necessary. The Cardinals knew that would be a factor – Kirk said the focus in the wide receiver room with Rosen as quarterback was “staying alive” on plays.
“Some of the concepts and routes we were running, it was ‘Hey, if you usually don’t get the ball on this play, this week more than ever and now more than ever, stay alive and make sure you are running your route 100 percent because he’s going to get that ball to you,’ ” Kirk said.
The reality of the NFL, Glennon said, is that often there will be defenders around your feet or charging right at your face. Rosen couldn’t have handled it much better.
“That’s why you have to do a great job preparing during the week, because you want to have as good of an idea of where you are going to go with the ball as possible,” Glennon said. “Because if you are sitting back there trying to figure it out when the ball is snapped, those guys will be on you quick.”
That’s a lesson every quarterback must learn. Rosen, a rookie with less than five quarters of regular-season football to his name, seems to have fast-tracked what's on his syllabus.
“Even if I have no reason to (be confident), I’ll find a way to fool myself into going out there with full confidence that we’re going to win every single game we play,” Rosen said. “Every time I step on the field, I expect to throw a touchdown or hand off a touchdown or lead the team to the end zone in some way.
“In my head, if I don’t, it’s a surprise and something’s wrong and we’ve got to fix it so that we do next time.”
Images of the Cardinals' cheerleaders during the Week 4 matchup against Seattle at State Farm Stadium