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Cardinals rookie quarterback Josh Rosen’s takeover was inevitable

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)


TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals’ quarterback controversy started when they moved up to draft Josh Rosen on April 26.

It officially ended Monday, when head coach Steve Wilks named his rookie the new starter over Sam Bradford.

In reality, this has been inevitable for awhile. No matter how good the relationship between the two quarterbacks might be. The second Bradford stumbled this season, there was going to be a strong push from fans, media and even people within the organization to see what Rosen could do. Short of getting out of the gate quickly and then making a legitimate run at the playoffs, change was coming.

As it turns out, Bradford didn’t get out of the gate quickly at all. The exact opposite, in fact. And at 0-3, the playoffs aren’t even a talking point right now.

“I think it’s a little of both,” Wilks said when asked if Monday’s decision was more about Rosen’s upside or Bradford’s struggles. “I’m very pleased and happy with what I think Josh is going to be able to bring to the table.

“And then again, we just didn’t have a lot of production at that position in the past. And whether it was all on Sam or whether it was collectively with the offensive line, the receivers, running backs, we all had a hand in it. But I wanted to make a change and I think Josh is going to bring something to the table.”

The Cardinals didn’t exactly ease Rosen into his first NFL action against Chicago in Week 3, bringing him into a game where they were trailing by two points with 4:31 remaining while Khalil Mack roamed the other side of the field. Wilks explained that he actually made the decision to switch quarterbacks following Bradford’s fumble with 11:23 left in the game, but the Bears then ate up about seven minutes with their offense.

That’s a tough situation to step into, and Rosen didn’t get it done. But Wilks still saw enough to be encouraged.

“I think he handled it well when he went in,” Wilks said of the rookie QB. “[He] commanded the huddle, did a great job of moving the ball. We just, as an offense in the end, didn’t work well together.”

Now the question is what Rosen can do with a full week to prepare. Is there still a chance to salvage this season, or is this strictly a move with an eye toward 2019?

“Josh plays with a lot of confidence,” Wilks pointed out. “I think he gives us the opportunity to be able to be successful. When you look at the situation when he went into the game, I didn’t have a problem putting him in at that time because, again, I know he’s very confident in what he’s doing.”

One of his main challenges will be staying upright behind an offensive line that struggled to give Bradford time while a collection of mostly inexperienced receivers try to get open. Wilks stressed Rosen’s ability to make plays on the move as a valuable asset in that scenario.

“His mobility allows us to do a number of things,” Wilks noted. “Most importantly, I think, just buying time in the pocket. I talked last week about [Mitchell] Trubisky, his athleticism and being able to avoid the rush and just buy a little bit more time. Josh has that ability.

“Can we roll him out a little bit more, sprint outs, boots? Yes. That’s all part of what he brings to the table. So we’ve got to do a great job in our game planning of making sure we put him in the best position to be successful.”

Wilks also reiterated a number of times that the offensive struggles through the first three weeks can’t all be pinned on Bradford. So simply switching quarterbacks isn’t instantly going to solve everything. Communication throughout the entire offense is going to be absolutely vital.

That’s the case with any team, of course. But especially for a Cardinals team that is fully focused on the future now. Not only is Rosen a rookie quarterback, he’ll be taking snaps from rookie center Mason Cole. And likely looking at rookie receiver Christian Kirk – who led everyone with 90 yards Sunday – in the passing game.

Apparently, Arizona even brings rookie running back Chase Edmonds in over David Johnson on key third downs now too. Though that probably won’t happen again for awhile.

It’s also worth noting that Wilks was noncommittal when asked if Bradford is even Rosen’s backup at this point.

“Sam will be the backup, as well as Mike Glennon. We have three quarterbacks,” Wilks said.

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