The Arizona Cardinals were beaten as soundly as an NFL team can be beaten in Thursday night’s 45-10 loss to Denver. This is year one of a total rebuild in Arizona. Still, with a 1-6 record and 4 losses by ten or more points, just about everyone’s job is in jeopardy if things don’t improve. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has already been let go.
One thing we do know about Arizona’s long-term plans is that Josh Rosen is a part of them. The rookie quarterback took over for an ineffective Sam Bradford late in Week 3, and has been the starter since Week 4. Baptism by fire is usually a good thing for the future of a rookie quarterback. However, through no fault of his own, Rosen needs to take a seat on the bench and reemerge as the starter in 2019 or later. Here is why:
Rosen is going to get hurt bad:
The Cardinals have a lot of issues, and the coaching certainly has not been good. However, they simply have no players on offense that are ready or able to produce on a consistent basis. Future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald is a couple years past his prime, and David Johnson is still trying to find his sea legs after a season-ending injury last year. In a year where offensive records are falling every week, the Cardinals are averaging 13.1 points per game and are last in third down conversion percentage.
Arizona has also allowed 19 sacks and ranks last in the league in rushing. That is not all due to coaching, either. The offensive line and skill position players are awful. To ask a 21 year old who did not play three full years of college football before jumping to the big show to go out and play in that spot is not only somewhat foolish, but also dangerous.
Rosen was sacked six times, and limped off the field on Thursday night. He is in a walking boot. Yes, the only way to truly learn in the NFL is to play, but Rosen has now done that a fair bit. If the organization keeps throwing him out there with this group of players around him, he is going to get hurt a lot worse than he already is, and once that happens his career may be over before it really starts.
Logistically speaking, Arizona is not going to go back to Bradford. He has incentives in his contract that are tied to both playing time and gameday activity. That leaves veteran journeyman Mike Glennon. No matter who starts at quarterback, Arizona has two more winnable games on its schedule: next week against San Francisco and in mid-November against the Raiders.
The following statement is incredibly cold, but true. Glennon is expendable in regards to the long term health of the Cardinals, and Rosen isn’t. Arizona needs to protect its investment.
There is no confidence to destroy:
The book on starting a rookie quarterback is that once it’s done, it cannot be undone — at least, not for a while. The theory is it will ruin the mindset of the youngster, as well as whatever confidence he may have built up. In Rosen’s case, he just got sacked six times, posted a QBR under ten and is in a walking boot. Destroying Rosen’s confidence is not an issue; he has no reason to have any. Instead, the Cardinals need to worry about Rosen not getting physically destroyed. The best way to ensure that is by putting him back on the bench.
Watching Rosen get the you-know-what kicked out of him in recent weeks has brought to mind another once-highly touted draft pick. David Carr was the first draft pick in the history of the Houston Texans in 2002. Carr was sacked 249 times in five seasons in Houston and never really got a decent shot at success. Thus, he was somewhat unfairly labeled a bust.
Even though they are playing like one, the Cardinals are not an expansion team like Houston was. So, they should be able to improve quicker. Until they do, they need to get Rosen off the field or else they are staring at the next David Carr.