Preparation has Cardinals QB Josh Rosen confident heading into first start
TEMPE, Ariz. — Cardinals coaches and teammates beamed of rookie Josh Rosen’s confidence when rookie minicamp opened all those months ago. That word describing the young quarterback’s command of the huddle resurfaced again Wednesday after Arizona’s first practice with the No. 10 overall pick now leading the offense as the starting quarterback.
The only question is whether Rosen’s best quality is that confidence. He seems to think that it’s a necessary, mandatory trait. What matters more is whether he knows which checks to make and where to throw the ball.
But yeah, he’s confident in that, too.
“I think my play on the field more carries than anything else,” Rosen said Wednesday as Arizona prepares to host the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. “I think a lot of the times, attitude and confidence and persistence … I think that’s good in sort of times when things aren’t going too great, like this. I mean, at least fake it ’til you make it.
“For the most part, for us, how much confidence you have or not, if you’re not throwing the ball to the right receiver and getting to the right run play, doesn’t matter.”
Rosen showed confidence and command of Arizona’s offense in his brief debut Sunday in a 16-14 loss to the Chicago Bears, according to Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks. He completed 4-of-7 passes for 36 yards but threw an interception on a key fourth-down play.
He connected with three different receivers, twice throwing to second-round draft pick and rookie receiver Christian Kirk, a long-time friend.
Maybe Kirk has seen Rosen’s abilities in live game action more than anyone else on the Cardinals roster. At Texas A&M, Kirk played against Rosen twice.
Two years ago, UCLA fell in the raucous Kyle Field, 31-24, and Rosen got roughed up against a pass-rush led by eventual No. 1 pick Myles Garrett. Rosen threw for 343 yards with three picks to one touchdown, plus fumbled twice (neither was lost).
Last season, UCLA fell behind 44-10 midway through the third quarter in Los Angeles before Rosen threw four fourth-quarter touchdowns to cap a 35-0 run to close the game.
Rosen finished that game having completed 35-of-59 passes for 491 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
“I definitely know what type of guy he is in those moments,” Kirk said.
Indeed, the NFL is a different game. Arizona is cognizant that putting too much on the rookie is a danger, and Wilks said he wanted Rosen to, simply, have fun playing football.
“We threw a lot at him from the standpoint of the install. Great job at the line of scrimmage checking and getting us in the right call from the standpoint of protections with the blitzes. I thought he looked good today,” Wilks said. “He has a lot of confidence. You saw that when he went into the game this past week. You see it each and every day that he’s out there, particularly today.
“The confidence he has — very humble, but very confident in his ability.”
Rosen, of course, set himself up for this moment through preparing as a starting quarterback should. But he also helped to build a narrative that includes the three quarterbacks who were selected ahead of him in the 2018 NFL Draft: Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield, New York’s Sam Darnold and Buffalo’s Josh Allen.
On draft night, Rosen infamously said the nine players picked before him were mistakes. He chopped that list down to three the next day, including only the quarterbacks selected ahead of him.
All three made their NFL debuts before Rosen, and now that they are their teams’ respective starters, it’s game on.
“We’ll see how it all turns out,” Rosen said. “Hopefully I can back up all of what I said.”
— Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring), Robert Nkemdiche (knee), Corey Peters (elbow) and Andre Smith (elbow) were among the Cardinals who did not practice in full on Wednesday. Smith remains day-to-day, though Wilks remained optimistic about the other three players who all played through injuries on Sunday.
— Wilks used practice to show the Cardinals clips of successful plays in games and similar plays from practices. The point? To show them that their work throughout the week will translate to Sundays.
— Wilks, on what he is saying to the 0-3 team: “These guys are looking for direction. I got to set the tone each day I go in there. I’m being honest and upfront with these guys,” Wilks said.