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Balancing Sam Bradford and Josh Rosen as the Cardinals prepare for the Saints

How do the Cardinals balance the rookie and getting the veteran enough reps to get into a rhythm?

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

By: Ryan Michael
Pro Football Analyst
Twitter: @theryanmichael

It wasn’t exactly the start Arizona was hoping for.

Sure, David Johnson was electric for two carries.

Christian Kirk looked sharp on the first punt return of his career, until he didn’t.

Hot takes fly this time of year, both good and bad. Baker Mayfield looked sharp vs. the Giants. Sam Darnold led the Jets on an impressive touchdown drivebefore halftime of their preseason opener. Even Lamar Jackson and his 39.3% completion-percentage has managed to find the end zone.

”Chosen Rosen”? Not yet.

6 of 13 (46.2%) for 41 yards, a putrid 3.2 YPA average and 0 touchdowns (53.7 passer rating).

”Numbers lie” is one of the most common and often misused phrases in all of sports. That doesn’t mean sample-size doesn’t matter. 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens finished 11 of 13 (84.6%) for 141 yards and an impressive 10.8 YPA average (105.4 passer rating). Which tells us what?

It’s tough to gauge a quarterback’s progress when playing under the circumstances Rosen played under vs. the Chargers. It was ugly, a unique kind of bad. If the Cardinals are completely sold on Sam Bradford as their starting quarterback based on his performance in camp and his one passing attempt vs. the Chargers, they need to accept the fact that Rosen will continue to develop around the cast he’s surrounded by for as long as he remains with the 2s.

”We need to improve our second offensive line...I’m not really concerned about it.” -Steve Wilks

I am. Assuming they limited Bradford to one passing attempt due to durability concerns, what does it say when they stuck the No. 10 overall pick behind a center that continued to hike footballs to his cleats?

Rosen will get first team reps vs. the Saints on Friday. As interesting as it will be to see Rosen with the 1s for the first time, why take away reps from the quarterback you awarded the starting position to before Week 1 of the preseason?

Bradford hasn’t attempted more than 11 passes at any level of NFL action since September 11th, 2017. That’s a lot of rust to knock off. If his durability is still a question mark more than 300 days later, to the point where they won’t even play him for two quarters of a preseason game, why was he awarded the label of starter to begin with?

You’ve heard the phrase: Wanting to “have your cake and eat it too.”

The front office and organization save face, while the players on their roster develop under inconsistency. I realize that’s not a popular take. You want to give the new regime a fair shot and it’s tough to argue with a 24-17 win. There’s not enough meaningful tape to critique and the team’s future is yet to be determined. Hopefully I’m proven wrong.

There were a few bright spots.

Rosen displayed touch and accuracy beyond his years, even on incompletions. It’s scary to think how good he could be behind a stable offensive line, with game-experience to help discover his limits.

The future of the 2018 season will be impacted by both Bradford and Rosen’s performance against the Saints. It’s another step, however small. As much as I feel the Cardinals want to justify Bradford’s $20,000,000, it would be tough to ignore their first round quarterback playing well, or better than Bradford, with their offensive starters.

In the same vein, Bradford has the opportunity to make Rosen look like a rookie.

What are you expecting Friday night?