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Cardinals’ 2019 QB Discussion

Arizona Cardinals v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

In this year’s inaugural episode of the Cardinals’ Flight Plan, the Cardinals’ owner and team president, Michael Bidwill, described 2nd year QB Josh Rosen as the team’s “franchise quarterback.”

When I heard Bidwill, the first question that came to my mind was could Bidwill (and we fans) have called Matt Leinart (also a #10 1st round draft pick) the team’s franchise QB after Leinart’s first year?

2006 Matt Leinart: 4-7, 56.8%, 2,547 yards, 11 TD, 12 int., 21 sacks, 212.3 ypg, 56.8 QBR

2018 Josh Rosen: 3-10, 55.2%, 2,278 yards, 11 TD, 14 int., 45 sacks, 162.7 ypg., 26.6 QBR

Now—-we all know what Josh Rosen was up against—-2 OCs—-vanilla offense—-makeshift offensive lines—-Christian Kirk injury.

Bidwill and Steve Keim have turned to Kliff Kingsbury to get Josh Rosen going and on the right track. Kingsbury lauds Rosen’s throwing form and has vowed to cater the offense to Rosen’s and the team’s strengths.

So, what would that catering require?

In watching Rosen’s college games and his 13 starts for the Cardinals, it would appear that Rosen’s greatest strength is passing up the seams and between the hash marks—-and he is good at throwing touch passes up the sidelines on fade and wheel routes.

Where Rosen struggles is in feeling pressure in the pocket, possessing average (at best) mobility, lacking improvisational instincts/skills and driving the ball to the boundaries on deep outs, go routes and back shoulder passes.

Therefore, it would seem that the kind of offense that Rosen could thrive in would be one very similar to the Patriots’. The throws that Josh Rosen is best suited to make are the ones that Josh McDaniels draws up regularly for Tom Brady.

But here’s the rub—-Brady is quick triggered and decisive. The ball comes out of his hand about as fast as any QB’s in league history. But that’s also because he has an outstanding slot WR in Julian Edelman and TE in Rob Gronkowski, plus a stable of athletic, sure handed RBs, who can catch the ball over the middle, in the flats or up the sidelines on wheel routes.

The biggest question is—-can Josh Rosen develop a quickness and decisiveness in his decision making to make the offense work?

Rosen was not good this past season at throwing the ball quickly. A number of his interceptions were caused by forced throws, poor passing angles and tipped or deflected balls.

Now—-Kingsbury is very precise about creating passing angles and his receivers’ step counts and breaks that create good windows and exact timing.

Rosen is in unchartered territory here—-as his style of play has typically been a more deliberate passer who game is predicated off of play action.

Would Kliff Kingsbury prefer to have a QB who is more athletic and strong armed?

One has to wonder just where Mike Glennon factors in to the QB situation this year. Glennon is in the last year of his 2 year deal and, therefore, how much sense would it make to have him learn the Air Raid offense for a year and then likely leave?

What Glennon has going for him is his size and quick release. When he came in for Rosen in mop up duty, Glennon was decisive and quick triggered. Maybe Glennon would assimilate quickly into a Patriots’ style of offense. Plus, he has the strongest arm on the roster.

Chad Kanoff would appear to be a natural fit in that he thrived in Princeton’s version of the spread offense—-throwing for 3,474 yards at 73.2%, 29 TDs, 9 ints. and a 168.4 QBR his senior year—-which earned him the 2017 Ivy League Player of the Year award.

Kanoff’s throwing strengths are similar to Rosen’s—-he doesn’t have a rifle, but he can command the middle of the field and win with touch passes toward or up the sidelines. As we saw in the pre-season games last year, Kanoff likes to get rid of the ball quickly and despite forcing some passes into tight windows, he was fairly successful in moving the chains.

Varying Opinions:

In a recent conversation I had with a local coaching icon, he said that what concerned him about Rosen was a lack of mobility and not having a rifle from the pocket. “Rosen just doesn’t flash enough arm strength for me, but maybe I need to see more of him,” he stated.

When I asked him about Kyler Murray he said, “Murray’s feet are exceptional and in today’s NFL where you can’t hit the QB, as long as Murray scoots out of bounds and slides when necessary, he’s going to be very difficult to handle.”

When I asked about size limitations, he said, “when you watch his feet, he uses them to create clear passing lanes, so no, I don’t see it as a problem. It wasn’t too much of a problem for Mayfield and it certainly isn’t a problem for Drew Brees and Russell Wilson. Murray threw behind 4 future NFL offensive linemen this past season, with little problem.”

The fact that Kliff Kingsbury is completely enamored with Murray is, in my opinion, not something to dismiss. Kingsbury’s work with high caliber QBs—-Manziel, Mayfield, Webb, Mahomes—-suggests he knows what to look for.

There’s a long-time, highly knowledgeable and well respected Cardinals’ and Ohio St. Buckeyes fan who recently wrote that—-while he doesn’t think the Cardinals will draft at QB with the #1 pick (or even perhaps if they should)—-he would love it if the Cardinals are bold enough to take QB Dwayne Haskins—-he thinks that Rosen is good, but feels that Haskins can be elite. He is so high on Haskins that he would prefer that the Cardinals take him at #1 over Nick Bosa.

What impresses me about Haskins is his quick release. He can throw 10-20 yard darts with a flick of his wrist. He has a stronger arm than Rosen and perhaps a little more mobility (sorry Stephen A. Smith, but Haskins is not “more of a runner than a thrower”). I love the fact too that Haskins absolutely shredded two of the best defenses in college football last year in Michigan and Washington. That speaks volumes about his ability.

However, I am completely of the mindset that ESPN columnist Will Cain articulates on this discussion. If you have a QB who fits your favored style of offense to a tee—-you take him. Quarterbacks are the greatest assets and resource you have—-but getting the best fit is the key to becoming a perennial winner in the NFL.

Check out what Max Kellerman, Stephen A. Smith and Will Cain have to say about Dwayne Haskins and Kyler Murray. I am with Will Cain. i think that everything he says is right on the money.

To me it is as simple as checking all of the boxes—-

With Kyler Murray, Kliff Kingsbury can open up the entire offense. With Josh Rosen, Kingsbury would need to cater it and limit it. Rosen would likely be a better fit style-wise in Miami, Jacksonville, New York (Giants) or New England—-and there should be a decent trade market for him this year or next.