SI worries about Josh Rosen’s mood

When the Josh Rosen talk
was happening leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft ,
the conversation was literally never about his work on the field.Instead, it was
always about the person of Rosen, ignoring the glowing reviews of the work on
the field.In May, Albert Breer wrote quite the article wondering if Rosen was
meant for the NFL:On Monday, Breer’s colleague, Robert Klemko, was at the
Arizona Cardinals training camp and came away with some not so great things to
say about Rosen as well:The amazing thing is, that up until Saturday’s woeful
performance by the second team offense, the buzz about camp was Josh Rosen, his
personality, how he is handling the rigors of the NFL and clicking with
teammates:That’s what is always the interesting part about these reports from
camp.Writers come in for a day, make a sweeping conclusion Antoine
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, then blow out of town.Was Rosen just having an off
day, was he frustrated with himself or with his teammates, or was it just the
realization of wasting time not getting in sync and in rhythm before a chance to
work in a live game with the first team offense?Was there even anything to the
story itself or was this just a single man’s interpretation of the events?I
guess this is what happens when you get a big time quarterback prospect
finally.Playing and Coaching Too Cautiously The two often go hand in hand.Steve
Wilks vowed when he got the job that every position was “open to
competition”—-and yet a mere week or two into training camp he anointed Sam
Bradford as the starting QB. Kid Gloves.Wilks has treated both Sam Bradford and
Josh Rosen with kid gloves. Sure, no one wants to see a QB get injured—-but you
can’t treat them like glass figurines.Bradford’s limited action in pre-season
involved handing the ball off and throwing 5 yard passes. He was never put to
the test. If the coaches are being extra cautious with you—-maybe you get extra
cautious yourself.Hmm—-what playing too cautiously at the QB position looks
like—-it looks like 3 straight 2-3 yard passes on 1st, 2nd and 3rd and goal from
the 10 yard line. Rosen, on the other hand, as well as fellow rookie Chad
Kanoff, were given opportunities to throw the ball downfield—-that was good
thing.But, Wilks threw the kid gloves on Rosen the second he bruised his thumb.
Rosen said he was fine—-and by all accounts he was and is fine. The only way in
which it made sense for Wilks to keep Rosen out of the last two pre-season games
was for playing him in the real games as early as possible.But, does anyone get
the sense that Rosen is a consideration for playing time at this point, unless
Bradford is injured?*The most important thing the Cardinals need to know coming
out of this season is whether Mike McCoy is the right OC for Josh Rosen. That
ain’t gonna happen if Wilks keeps the kid gloves on Rosen. It doesn't really
matter if McCoy is the right OC for Sam Bradford. Both Bradford and McCoy are on
2 year contracts, which easily can be turned into 1 year contracts if things
this year don’t click.The Cardinals have a major 5 year investment in Josh
Rosen—-and especially due to the fact that Steve Wilks is a defensive minded
coach Authentic
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, pairing Rosen with the best fit at OC is of
paramount importance.Now—-it’s possible that McCoy and Rosen could be a match
and an “odd couple” a la Felix Unger and Oscar Madison. Rosen is a fiery Type A,
whereas McCoy is a stay the course Type B. Sometimes those pairings work like a
charm—-like it did when Red Pollack rode Seabiscuit to stardom in the late
1930s.Nevertheless—-the sooner the Cardinals know whether McCoy and Rosen are a
good match—-the better. Here’s a possible difference between Sam Bradford and
Josh Rosen—-yesterday in the 3rd quarter when the Cardinals were finally moving
the ball and got stalled on a 4th and 3 just inside the Redskins’ territory,
Rosen, right from the middle of the field, would have begged and pleaded Wilks
to go for it. He wouldn’t have just trotted off the field the way Bradford
did.Candidly, the fact that Wilks didn't go for it anyway is one example of how
the Cardinals’ coaches were coaching too cautiously yesterday. If there ever was
a time to go for it, it was down 21-0 at home, inside the opponents territory
while finally showing some spark on offense.The other most conspicuous sign of
coaching cautiously was not subbing in for players like Deone Bucannon, Jamar
Taylor and Tre’ Boston who were clear and distinct liabilities on the field
yesterday. If you truly want to motivate players in the NFL today, it’s not with
pithy platitudes, lofty mantras or snappy acronyms—-it’s by hitting them in the
wallet or taking away their PT. Ideally—-you’d rather motivate by more
traditional and less draconian methods—-but if you really want to get the
players’ attention, then go back to the original promise of open competition.
Confucious says: “He who plays best—-plays.”Steve Wilks and his staff deserved
so much better than what they got yesterday. They have been working their tails
off. But Youth
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, Steve Wilks saw the same kind of soft
Cardinals who showed up in Carolina when his Panthers put a total 49-15 butt
whooping on them in the 2015 NFC Championship. This kind of playing cautiously
and even scared has been the Cardinals’ stigma for years on end. Ironically, it
was Alex Smith who once said (when he was playing for the 49ers), ‘If you jump
on the Cardinals early and step on their necks, they will fold like tents.”Right
now, Wilks should do all he can to give a number of players good looks so that
he can weed out the “pretenders” from the “contenders.” To be candid, while
trading three picks to acquire QB Josh Rosen was a coup, it didn't help Wilks’
cause on defense—-only able to draft one defensive player—-and ironically that
one player, CB Christian Campbell didn't make the team or practice squad.
Instead, Wilks and his DC Al Holcomb deserve credit for bringing out the talents
in several UDFAs—-DE Alec James, LB Dennis Gardeck, LB Zeke Turner, CB Deatrick
Nichols and S A.J. Howard (alas ,
until his injury). Those are now some of his new guys—-and in time Wilks will
have a whole defense full of his guys—-and those guys should play faster and hit
harder.But, the defensive positional drafting criteria for Steve Keim and his
scouts has now changed significantly. While ILB Deone Bucannon may have been a
fit for a while as a $LB in the 34—-he currently does not look like a fit in
Wilks’ nickel, which suddenly is the team’s base defense, primarily because the
linebackers are weak and the safeties are better tacklers and cover men.This is
what virtually always happens when a team transitions from one style of play and
coaching to another—-the roster gets turned over—-and the sooner the new coach
gets “his guys’ in place, the better.I believe that Steve Wilks’ heart is in the
right place. I also believe that he knows the kind of coaching and playing it
takes to win the NFL. If he brings that Carolina toughness to Arizona—-we should
be in for a treat. I just hope he takes the kid gloves off the QBs, starts going
for it on 4th and 3 when his offense desperately needs to keep a spark alive and
that he starts going “next man up” when some of his starters are playing
error-filled, half-hearted and penalty-prone football.
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