The Cardinals Offense had an abysmal season, finishing dead last in the NFL in points, total offense, passing yards and rushing yards. The offensive line was probably the core reason. The Cardinals dealt with poor play up front as well as several injuries. The lack of continuity in the trenches certainly hurt their ability to perform, and this led to too many drive-killing negative plays. The line also likely played a key role in limiting what Arizona could do schematically.
The circumstances were definitely not ideal for a rookie quarterback. Josh Rosen struggled, completing 55.2% of his passes for just 5.8 yards per attempt, 11 TD passes, 14 interceptions, and a 66.7 passer rating.
A lot of his poor play can be attributed to the situation up front. But there were certain aspects of Rosen’s performance that should have the Cardinals at least exploring the possibility of drafting a quarterback with the #1 overall pick if they truly love one.
We’ll start with the positives of Rosen’s play. It’s easy to understand why the Cardinals drafted him with the 10th overall pick last year. Rosen is a tall pocket passer who has the arm to make all the throws. You can always work with that. Throughout his rookie season, we saw Rosen make plenty of impressive throws.
Watch the great timing, anticipation, and accuracy on this ball below.
On this next play, you can see Rosen hanging in the pocket and scanning the field before easily driving the ball downfield against tight coverage.
This next throw was special. Sluggo-seam. Rosen held the deep safety and then delivered an absolute seed to Larry Fitzgerald for the touchdown.
One thing to notice about these throws is that Rosen had a clean pocket on all of them. This enabled him to operate within the timing and rhythm of the play. At his best last season, Rosen could deliver when things went according to plan.
Now let’s get to the bad.
First and foremost, Rosen’s accuracy and ball placement was erratic. Much of this can be attributed to mechanics. Rosen has a tendency to allow his front shoulder to open up, which causes his elbow to drop and the ball to sail on him.
His issues with ball placement were due to awareness and feel. Remember, when we talk about ball placement, we are talking about a combination of accuracy as well as putting the ball in the right place for a receiver in relation to the defenders in the area. It’s about making the right throw to beat the coverage. Rosen was inconsistent in this department last season.
Rosen also struggled to quickly work through progressions during his rookie season. NFL defenses throw a lot at quarterbacks, and the learning curve can be steep for rookies. This certainly could account for some of Rosen’s struggles in this area. Still, he got into a lot of trouble in 2018 because he was too slow to come off receivers at times. He was late on several throws as a result.
The below pick-6 against the Lions is a great example. Watch him look down the middle of the field, then move to the #2 inside route to his right, then settle on the outside route late in the play. All of this happened a beat too slow.
From the end zone, you can see how deliberate and slow he was to work from one read to the next. This led to the late throw to the outside and a pick-6.
Still, even if he had been on time with this throw, that receiver wasn’t really open at any point during the play. Rosen forced the pass anyway. This was the most concerning aspect of Rosen’s performance this season. His decision-making too often was questionable.
Several of the bad decisions Rosen made were in the face of pressure. He locked onto receivers, predetermined his throws, and got rid of the ball in response to pressure regardless of whether or not the receiver was open.
Even when Rosen had a clean pocket, he forced passes to receivers who simply weren’t open.
We don’t know what Rosen was seeing there. If it was possible, that ball would have been intercepted twice.
On the below play, you can see that Rosen was scanning the field from the pocket before firing the ball to a clearly covered Larry Fitzgerald.
There’s really no excuse for that throw there. If you’re going to attempt that pass, put the ball in an area where either your receiver is the only one can get it or it’s an incompletion. If Rosen didn’t see the defender right next to Fitzgerald on that play, then that’s an entirely different concern.
Regardless of what Rosen was dealing with up front or from his receivers all season, forcing throws that aren’t open is on him.
Back in October, well before he was the Cardinals Head Coach, Kliff Kingsbury said he would take Kyler Murray with the first pick of the draft if he could. Obviously, this will create an interesting next few months of pre-draft speculation, because that is now a possibility.
From our standpoint, we don’t think Rosen is a bust. He does have flaws, but there are certainly tools there that the Cardinals can work with. However, Arizona is in the rare position where they have the #1 overall pick and a new coaching staff. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if they decided to go in a different direction at quarterback.
Like what you read? Follow us on Twitter @FB_FilmRoom (Football Film Room) for more insight and analysis.