QBs Josh Rosen, Aaron Rodgers bonded over more than football

Nov 28, 2018, 4:30 PM

TEMPE, Ariz. — How Cardinals rookie Josh Rosen first soaked in advice from Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers may not have been organic.

They spent time together at events for their common agency, Athletes First, as Rosen and others prepared for the 2018 NFL Draft. In late March, a produced video of their time together made the rounds.

It was all football then, but in that limited footage, there was a sense of a real bond between them. Fast-forward to their Week 13 matchup, and the Arizona and Green Bay signal-callers can say their relationship has held up quite well.

“I think he’s an old soul. He’s a young kid but he sees things through a different lens,” Rodgers said on a teleconference call Wednesday.

“He’s not your typical — although I was told recently I am a Millennial … he’s not in his phone all the time playing Fornite. He’s doing some other things. I can relate to that.”

Calling Rosen mature for a 21-year-old, or an old soul, isn’t unique to Rodgers. Thirty-eight-year-old Cardinals offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich has said his rookie quarterback is 21-going-on-30-something repeatedly this season.

Maturity has helped Rosen bond with his elder mentors.

That he so happened to bond with Rodgers, a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, has a lot to do with their personalities.

“It’s kind of nice in a world where everyone wants you to think less and do more football,” Rosen said. “It’s cool to talk to people who kind of think about other things.”

While the video productions from Rosen’s predraft lessons were all about football, he said Rodgers taught him more about dealing with all the hurdles of becoming a famous NFL quarterback.

“A lot of what we talked about the draft was kind of before the whole circus started,” Rosen said. “A lot of it was more sort of the conceptual stuff, the old-soul speak.

“… How sometimes certain relationships you’ve had for a long time will change for the better or the worse. I mean, Aaron would be the first one to tell you he’s made a lot of mistakes. I think it’s nice to be able to hear from someone who is glad to have learned from those mistakes.”

On the field, Rosen picked up a few tips in several meetings with Rodgers. They last found time to talk around Thanksgiving, Rodgers said.

Regardless of how much or how little Rodgers has taught Rosen in person, the rookie already appreciated what made Rodgers a great football player.

The Packers quarterback is completing just 61.7 percent of his passes this year, the lowest mark since he became Green Bay’s starter following Brett Favre’s departure after the 2007 season. Yet, Rodgers has thrown 20 touchdowns to just one interception.

According to ESPN, he suggested this week he just might have to take more chances for a 4-6-1 football team with a head coach, Mike McCarthy, on the hot seat. That’s not great news for a Cardinals team coming off a game in which opposing quarterback Philip Rivers completed 28 of 29 passes.

“Defensive coordinators and head coaches against him are just always fearful,” Rosen said of Rodgers. “That play can happen anywhere, anytime. A shot does not need to be called. I think that sort of sense of lethality at any time, that sort of fear, is something only a few guys have. Hopefully I start to gain that some day.”

That, in a nutshell, is maybe what made Rosen call Rodgers a “dude” heading into the draft.

“If he’s referencing The Big Lebowski at all, it’s right at the top of possible compliments,” Rodgers joked Wednesday.

It wasn’t. But Rosen meant it all the same.

The Cardinals’ franchise quarterback hopes, one day, he can be that dude, too.

“I think you got to continue to extend plays in practice. If things aren’t open, you got to work with your receivers and let them know what you do and don’t like, where you want them to go on all the scramble drills stuff. Some of it’s feel, so you just got to have it in games naturally.

“I think if there’s a solid answer, a lot more guys would be doing it. I’m searching for it.”

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QBs Josh Rosen, Aaron Rodgers bonded over more than football