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Rapid Reaction: Josh Rosen debuts as Cardinals fall apart vs. Bears

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Sam Bradford watches the closing moments of an NFL football game from the sideline after being pulled for rookie quarterback Josh Rosen during the second half against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

The Arizona Cardinals broke their first-half scoring drought, taking a 14-0 lead over the Chicago Bears into halftime.

They couldn’t get another point.

Quarterback Sam Bradford had two interceptions in the third quarter and then fumbled in the fourth, prompting the Cardinals to debut rookie quarterback Josh Rosen as the Bears took a 16-14 lead with less than five minutes remaining in the game.

Rosen couldn’t lead Arizona downfield and the Cardinals fell to 0-3 on the season.

Here are the rapid reactions from the 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station hosts.

John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo

First, let’s get this out of the way: No reason to waste $312K per game for the next 13 games. Cut Sam Bradford now. As long as he is active, he gets that extra coin.

The choices are to pay him an extra $4 million to be the backup, make him inactive as the third QB where the whole world knows you’re only doing it to not pay him, or get rid of him and hand the starting job to Josh Rosen and the backup job to Mike Glennon.

No reason to keep Bradford around. Cut your losses now. He stinks.

Not sure what happened to Bradford. But his career is OVA. He can’t play anymore.

He is too scared to look off receivers and go through his progressions. He can only focus on one target at a time, and you can’t move an offense like that. I just don’t see him ever making his reads from left to right or right to left until he finds an open receiver. He completes his dink and dunk passes and occasionally finds an open receiver, but it’s painful to watch.

After jumping ahead 14-0, Bradford led the Cardinals to just five first downs in his next six possessions with an interception and a fumble. He couldn’t even lead them to a field goal when an interception gave them the ball at the Bears’ 34-yard line at the end of the first half.

As for Rosen, it was all set up for him to be the hero, lead the game-winning drive. And it looked good with passes to Jermaine Gresham, David Johnson, Chad Williams and Christian Kirk. But an absolutely awful play call on third-and-two where they handed off — NOT David Johnson, but to Chase Edmonds — lost them 3 yards. On fourth-and-five, Rosen was intercepted.

The future is Rosen.

He can get the ball down the field and open up the playbook. The team will go through growing pains, he will have ups and downs, highs and lows — but at 0-3 you have no other choice. If Wilkes even considers bringing back Bradford, he should be overruled by the organization.

The fans will be patient and accept a down season as long as Rosen is playing and growing. They won’t if the team goes back to Bradford.

So, it’s not a tough decision. Rosen is the starter. Glennon is the backup. And Bradford takes his $16 million and goes home.

Kellan Olson, reporter and editor

The Cardinals showed how bad of a team they are with Sam Bradford as their starting quarterback in a new way on Sunday.

They were, quite simply, gifted a 14-point lead in the first quarter. Bradford had three wide-open receivers to hit and he succeeded on all three throws.

Bradford was 4-for-5 with 92 yards passing and two touchdowns at that point, which sure looked nice in the box score, but was nothing close to a statement by Bradford to show the real quarterback he is.

That statement came through the rest of the game. After Bradford’s touchdown pass to David Johnson, he and the offense advanced the ball a total of 71 yards over six drives before being pulled for Josh Rosen. Despite Baker Mayfield’s heroics Thursday night, this was an impossible situation chosen for Rosen’s debut and it showed.

Who knows how much of a spark Rosen can provide when he assumedly takes over next week, but there is no way it can be worse than how Bradford has played through three games.

Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo

Instant reaction #1: I don’t know about anyone else, but it’s a terrible feeling to realize on September 23rd that all the hopes and dreams of a season are gone. September. 23rd. I’m looking at the weather app on my phone. Temps will be hovering in the high 90’s and low 100’s all week and the Cards season season is effectively over. That’s depressing. Teams can come back from 0-2. They don’t come back from 0-3. It’s happened three times since 1990 and hasn’t happened at all in 20 years.

Instant reaction #2: Except it’s not over. The season is now about something … else. It’s about Josh Rosen. It’s about figuring out how to effectively use David Johnson, which remarkably is still an issue. It’s about other high draft picks. Chad Williams. Christian Kirk. Robert Nkemdiche. Hasson Reddick. Even, somewhat shockingly, Deone Bucannon. Is there a role for them in this scheme? Can they contribute? Are they busts? If they don’t have a role here, it forces another good hard look at the draft and evaluation process because the “miss” rate on some of these higher draft picks feels like it’s climbing.

Instant reaction #3: I wanted to see Josh Rosen as much as the next guy and with the offense flatlining after it’s early surge, I can see the urge to play him. But that particular moment? Down two points with 4:31 to go in the game? No time to get in any kind of a groove. Hey kid, go get ’em! If he succeeds, Rosen is legend. But you have to ask yourself if the chances of success in that spot made the choice too much of gamble. The counter is that the chances of success with Sam Bradford were just as low. It just felt like too much to ask.

Instant reaction #4: I would assume Rosen next week. And now the season is about him and learning everything we can about his ability to be a franchise quarterback in the NFL.

Instant reaction #5: I saved Chase Edmonds for last. Not sure what I can say that hasn’t been said probably a thousand times by the time you read this. Typically, I work very hard to avoid second-guessing the professional decision-makers who have made a nice living making these types of calls. They have exponentially more information and analysis at their disposal. But … how did Mike McCoy decide that was the best option? And how did Steve Wilks sign off on such a decision? Wilks blamed the blocking up front, which begs the counter question, who is more likely to overcome poor blocking? A rookie running back, or one of the most skilled players in the NFL?

In baseball, a manager is going to live or die with his top reliever. Not the guy they just called up from the minors.

Jordan Byrd, host of Arizona Sports Saturday and producer of Burns & Gambo

Being in the crowd, there was a noticeable buzz within the seats and rows around me when someone noticed Josh Rosen beginning to warm up on the sideline. And that is the depths to which this season has already fallen to: fans getting excited for a quarterback change while the Cardinals HAD THE LEAD!

I have seen enough of Sam Bradford for the rest of the season. There is no question that Rosen should be the starter from here on out and Mike Glennon the backup. Bradford lucked into a 14-0 lead hitting receivers so wide open a pee wee quarterback could have completed them. Some real questions need to be asked about Steve Wilks as a head coach if he doesn’t make the switch permanent this week.

On a positive note, the Cardinals defense looked their best so far this season. I know that’s not saying much, and the Bears offense isn’t the Chiefs, but some real progress was made. The secondary made plays, there was an improved pass rush and the unit as a whole looked faster.

You add it all up and reality of the Cardinals season has officially changed. The Josh Rosen era is here and even as more losses are bound to come, his week-to-week development is now the driving story of this team the rest of the year.

Kevin Zimmerman, reporter and editor

Argue about the timing of Josh Rosen’s appointment all you want. The point is, the Cardinals in all likelihood entered Sunday with Bradford on a short leash, and it remained short despite flashes of promise in the first three drives. Three poor turnovers will do that to you.

That means Rosen is ready and the Cardinals have seen enough of Bradford, one would think. There wasn’t enough to learn much about Rosen, other than that ball comes out a lot faster (and more accurate) than it does for Bradford.

Wonder about how Rosen will play moving forward all you want. What’s more concerning is that the running game, even when it’s spotted a two-touchdown lead, can’t get going. Whether it’s scheme, offensive line play or David Johnson’s fault, the Cardinals promised to build their offense around their franchise back and the ground game. It’s not happening three games in, and if that continues, it doesn’t matter who’s under center.

Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta

I’ve stated on the air early this season that the Cardinals aren’t built to play from behind. Well, Sunday they proved they’re not equipped to play with a lead either.

Sam Bradford was better in Week 3; however, the bar was pretty much a limbo stick six inches above the ground. His three second-half turnovers were obviously huge in the outcome of the game, but not the only factors. Curious play-calling and horribly timed and boneheaded penalties played more than a supporting role.

But I’ve got to say it … Steve Wilks’ decision to insert Josh Rosen was questionable. Since the Cardinals drafted him and acquired Bradford in free agency, there’s been nothing but talk about grooming and patience and not throwing the rookie into a situation too big too soon. Then, trailing by two points, they did just the opposite. Mark Schlereth said on the FOX broadcast that viewers were witnessing a “baptism by fire.”

As a veteran quarterback (who helped give you a two-touchdown lead, by the way), I feel Bradford merited a chance to redeem himself and win a game for his team. Instead, they threw Rosen to the wolves, hoping for a Baker Mayfield-type lift (I feared this would happen). They didn’t get it. Bradford very well could have failed to help the Cardinals generate a game-winning field goal drive. So be it — the result would have been the same and the decision to go to Rosen as your starter would have been made a lot easier, given that he’d be coming in to start instead of trailing with four minutes and change to go.

The Cardinals led the game for 53 minutes and 41 seconds, yet David Johnson got 12 carries. It doesn’t compute. And the decision to not have him on the field for the biggest play of the game (a third-and-2 at the Chicago 42, down two points with two minutes to go) was a baffling one at best.

But it’s another sign of just how inept this offense really is.

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