ARIZONA CARDINALS

Knocks on QB Josh Rosen bothered his UCLA coach, Jim Mora

May 9, 2018, 2:06 PM | Updated: 8:28 pm
UCLA head coach Jim Mora looks toward the field against Washington in the first half of an NCAA col...
UCLA head coach Jim Mora looks toward the field against Washington in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
LISTEN: Jim Mora, NFL analyst and former UCLA head coach

Jim Mora infamously threw his former UCLA quarterback, Josh Rosen, under the bus. Well, it was perceived that way.

Before the 2018 NFL Draft, Mora suggested that because of the fit, it wouldn’t be the best for Rosen to go first overall to the Cleveland Browns. During an interview with MMQB’s Peter King, the coach explained that Rosen “needs to be challenged intellectually so he doesn’t get bored. He’s a millennial. He wants to know why.

“If you can hold his concentration level and focus only on football for a few years, he will set the world on fire.”

Those comments didn’t go over well.

Rosen played it off with a cryptic tweet, but Mora’s quotes taken into a different context only played into an already-existing — if untrue — narrative surrounding Rosen.

Many NFL evaluators believed he had as much talent as anyone in the draft class, but his outspokenness was perceived as a negative. So was the fact that he had interests outside of football.

“I don’t understand why people ever took that as a criticism,” Mora said of his own comments Wednesday while visiting Bickley & Marotta on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

“It was about as positive as a thing you could say. People would question Josh’s commitment to football, and I’m like, ‘no, no, no, no, no, no. His commitment is 100 percent.’ That’s why he asked why. If he didn’t care, he wouldn’t ask why. He wants to know so he can do it to the best of his ability.”

Throughout the draft process, Mora said he was bothered by the narratives that accused Rosen of being everything from disrespectful to less-than-interested in football.

Even after the draft, an anonymous NFL executive said that “nobody likes him.” Browns vice president of football player personnel Alonzo Highsmith told an odd story that led the Cleveland evaluator to feel wary about Rosen’s character.

Mora disputed all of those concerns about his former quarterback.

“There were really a couple things (that were bothersome). Number one, that he didn’t love football and wasn’t committed to the game because I’ve watched him for years and his commitment is undeniable,” Mora said. “Number two, the thing that bothered me was people said that he wasn’t durable, which is nonsense. He’s extremely durable. He’s played through pain, he’s played through injuries. He had a concussion and at this level and at any level, I’d hope, if a player sustains a concussion, we’re going to be careful with it.

“I think I heard someone question his competitiveness.”

On Wednesday, Mora was more than complimentary of Rosen, who threw for 9,340 yards, completed 61 percent of his passes and threw 59 touchdowns to 26 interceptions at UCLA.

Mora’s comments to King, the coach said, were an attempt to compare Rosen’s inquisitive nature to the NFL greats.

Mora added that first-year Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and likely starting quarterback Sam Bradford will be the perfect tutors for the rookie quarterback, who after a three-year UCLA career went 10th overall in the draft as the third quarterback taken.

“I thought it was perfect,” he said of Rosen landing on the Cardinals.

“Arizona fans, you are so lucky that you’re getting this guy. He’s thoughtful, he is respectful. He treats people right. He cares about the athletic trainers, he cares about the video people, he cares about the field maintenance people. He cares about everybody in the building,” Mora added. “He matured. He learned how to conduct himself in a more professional way. He went from being a young person to a man. He really has a great concept of football, conceptually what offenses are trying to accomplish and what defenses are trying to do to stop it.”

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