Cardinals QB Rosen wants to improve decisiveness vs. Rams

Dec 19, 2018, 4:23 PM

(AP Photo/John Amis)...

(AP Photo/John Amis)

(AP Photo/John Amis)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Josh Rosen has been through the ringer.

The Cardinals rookie has been sacked the 10th-most times (35) of all qualified quarterbacks despite not playing in the first three games of the year.

From the beginning, Arizona has sold his confidence as the asset that will keep him from regressing through a predictably arduous road since he was named the starter in Week 4 against the Seattle Seahawks.

Arguably, he has regressed. But so has the team around him, due to injuries or otherwise.

Rosen has heard the talk outside the Cardinals’ facilities. Should he be shut down for his own protection?

That would frustrate him, he said Wednesday. He has goals with two games left, starting Sunday for a home finale against the Los Angeles Rams.

“I want to work on being a little more decisive,” he said. “I think especially when you play guys like Aaron Donald and the D-line they have, you have to be a lot more deliberate and decisive with your reads and you’ve got to have much more of a pre-snap picture.”

Translation: figure it out before the snap, when a veteran or rookie quarterback alike would hurry like hell reacting to make a play before the pocket collapses.

“When you can have less arguments with yourself in your head, what you think it is, that’s when you start to play faster,” Rosen said.

This season, Rosen is completing 55.7 percent of his passes and averaging 6.08 yards per attempt. He’s thrown 10 touchdowns to 14 picks, and four of his interceptions went for six points the other way.

The box scores he’s produced haven’t indicated obvious improvements. The Cardinals have promised they are doing everything to keep him healthy, both physically and mentally.

Head coach Steve Wilks and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich have said that reps mean everything.

Rams head coach Sean McVay, an offensive mind credited with developing 2016 first overall pick Jared Goff in his second and third seasons, sees the same things and knows first-hand that numbers don’t mean everything.

“If you just watch the film, Josh has done some really good things,” McVay said Wednesday during a conference call with Arizona media. “He’s just got a natural feel. He’s got great base balance, body position in terms of throwing and delivering the football, consistently accurate. He can move the spot a little bit.

“You can see just based on whether it’s the way he utilizes the cadence or even some of the ways he’s able to manipulate the coverage, this guy has a high football IQ. I think the arrow is definitely pointed upward with him, and I do not think that some of the things that maybe have gone on are at all an indicator that this guy is not going to be a really good player moving forward.”

That’s a comforting thought coming from outside Arizona. And the Cardinals would be so lucky to watch Rosen make the leap that Goff did in his second season.

Goff played in seven games as a rookie under then-head coach Jeff Fisher. He completed 54.6 percent of his passes for 5.31 yards per attempt with five touchdowns, seven interceptions and five fumbles by the end of the year.

Last year, Goff completed 62 percent of his passes for 7.98 yards per attempt, 28 touchdowns, seven picks and seven fumbles.

All of those numbers, including the interceptions, have been more prolific this year. Five interceptions with no touchdowns in the last two games (both losses) have slightly swung the narrative surrounding Goff, who was sniffing MVP candidacy a few weeks back.

Speaking to the timing and rhythm of a play-call melding with his quarterback reading the opposing coverage, McVay said his third-year quarterback focuses on “intent,” then used that word Rosen is focused on this week.

“What’s the intent, and how can that allow you to be decisive?” McVay said.

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