This is the first of two articles for Revenge of the Birds this week, in which I present opposing viewpoints.
Currently, Cardinals fans are split down the middle.
Who should the 2019 Cardinals quarterback be?
It’s not an easy question and the dilemma clearly runs deep and, being of sound mind and judgement, I will work to examine both sides of the arguments.
First up it’s covering Josh Rosen.
Dear Arizona Cardinals and Rosen Fans,
I get your pain.
I really do.
It wasn’t likeable or entertaining to endure the 3-13 season and effectively resume the sad-yet-familiar rightful place as a fanbase of the laughingstock of the league.
Heck, coaches got fired for losing to the Cardinals for the first time in ages.
But it was an experience that we shared and battled along WITH Josh Rosen as he took on a mantle of leadership, improved and showed his toughness, earning the respect of his team and a fanbase.
A fanbase that had been starved for a rookie quarterback almost 12 years to the day after they drafted Matt Leinart out of California with the 10th overall pick, seeing a similar situation play out, hopefully for the better this time.
The team was far worse than we thought, and even Rosen as a rookie was thrust into action too soon, making erratic throws after making brilliant ones as he was under constant duress.
The team probably goes 0-16 without him, if we are being honest, at least given his comeback efforts against the Niners, Seahawks and even the Raiders and Packers, a light did show at the end of the tunnel that Arizona might have found their quarterback.
And now, a month away from the draft, all anyone can talk about is Kyler Murray.
It feels like a cruel and unusual punishment.
But then you remember that....Josh Rosen can’t make this throw.
And perhaps that’s where the intrigue comes from as to why so many are wondering as to if Arizona is plain crazy or if there’s a method to the madness.
Kyler Murray and Josh Rosen, by all accounts, are almost inverse as a pair of quarterbacks could be, with Rosen excelling on timing-based throws in the intermediate zone but having some overthrows and issues avoiding the rush in the pocket as he’s not the most athletic.
Meanwhile Kyler Murray has a huge arm and wheels that can run on draw plays, options, routes and all sorts of plays.
The statement that “Rosen doesn’t fit Kliff’s system” is obviously incorrect. We’ve seen it in action at TTU with immobile players.
But at some point when you look at the top quarterbacks in the game right now after the Brady/Brees and Ryans you’ll notice a pattern...a pattern of extending plays.
Mahomes has it.
Russell Wilson has it.
So does a guy like Baker Mayfield or a Sam Darnold and even an Aaron Rodgers.
It’s not a right or wrong, it’s just different.
And if there’s one thing we learned from last year watching Josh Rosen stumble and lose his balance running away from the Green Bay Packers it’s that while he’s athletic, he’s not the type of athlete who can thrive without a stable, steady offensive line that’s protecting him all the time to make smart, quick decisions.
Decisions that Rosen, at times, looked lost and couldn’t make. But perhaps it goes deeper than that.
Perhaps what Josh Rosen fans might need to recognize is that Josh Rosen is ultimately a product of the 2018 Arizona Cardinals.
A team without an identity.
Unless you count being inept and going 3-13 as an identity...
The team didn’t know who they were on offense, who they were on defense and it stemmed from the leadership and poor draft picks by Steve Keim.
The offensive coach in Mike McCoy built a bland, overcomplicated offense that ran David Johnson up the middle repeatedly and predictably, putting the quarterback in bad spots and then followed it up with bad play-calling or the ball was dropped. The defensive side wasn’t much better trying to jam 3-4 personnel into a 4-3 and a gap scheme that teams simply manipulated and moved defenders out of the way at will in the run game and burned the team’s zone coverage against the pass.
It was like a man from the 1930’s had suddenly come into contact with a smartphone and was still trying to send out a telegram.
And if you’re a Cardinals fan, haven’t you wanted to be in the future? Isn’t there a desire to put aside the old, tired NFL and take a step forward just like when Bruce Arians ran the “no risk it, no biscuit” with a team of veterans and a passing game built around a top athletic running back?
Michael Bidwill and Steve Keim thought so, too.
They didn’t settle for the rehash or the “old guard”. They went straight to the source of offensive innovation when they hired Kliff Kingsbury, to the shock and chagrin of many. And the move was trumpeted and heralded by many Cardinals fans who CRAVED the innovation Arians brought but with a young mind who wouldn’t retire...or unretire...too quickly.
And while Kliff Kingsbury’s certainly capable of taking Josh Rosen and turning him around just like Sean McVay did with Jared Goff, didn’t we see Bruce Arians at his best when he was surrounded by “his guys?”
Arians built up a deal of commitment and trust with veteran coaches and players such as Drew Stanton, Harold Goodwin, Tom Moore, Todd Bowles, Jerraud Powers and more. he found guys like John Brown, David Johnson and even today, just hired two female coaches to push the limits of the NFL.
In that sense, if the Cardinals were successful when building around Arians and were NOT when trying to shove past Arians players and the Wilks/McCoy philosophies together alongside a “B.A.” guy in Byron Leftwich, isn’t it possible that one way to avoid such a collapse is to build around the coach once again?
And if that means a COMPLETE fresh start, wiping away all the mistakes of the Wilks and McCoy era, it doesn’t mean Rosen was an error. Just like it doesn’t mean that Bruce Arians was an error since he got “Drew Stanton” to be his guy.
Then Carson Palmer became available.
The rest is history.
Could history and the improbably and unlikely be meeting once again to make the extraordinary?
If Kliff Kingsbury, a purveyor of quarterback talent that found & developed the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Baker Mayfield, Johnny Manziel, Case Keenum and Davis Webb has a belief in a quarterback...maybe I’m not the one who should tell Kliff what he can and can’t do?
It’s a risk, alright, but at this point what does Arizona have to lose?
They’re at rock bottom. Almost literally.
They tried a soft rebuild, or a “retool” and it collapsed. And Steve Keim and Michael Bidwill seem intent on tearing it all down, eating dead money this year left and right and embracing a longer-term rebuild than hoping for a playoff shot with a team driving on flat tires.
Josh Rosen has a ceiling, and that ceiling is defined by the talent he had around him. 2018’s talent was bad.
Is 2019’s that much better? What if Rosen in essence is a Jameis Winston, an Eli Manning, even at most a Matt Ryan and the ebb and flow of his play goes with the strength of the team.
There’s no guarantee Kyler Murray becomes a Russell Wilson or a Patrick Mahomes, that’s for certain.
But what IS certain is that Josh Rosen isn’t likely to become either of those guys. He doesn’t have the same arm on the run or the same knack to make something out of nothing.
And making something out of nothing is exactly what the Cardinals are trying to do. If the team pulls it off and Kyler turns into a star with a coach who knows him, loves him, understands him and plays to his strengths...and he has a higher ceiling, then that might be a tough pill to stomach for Cards fans.
Too tough, for now.
And by all accounts if it is a “done deal” then it’s a risk to take, and believe me if you’re upset and frustrated by the rumors or issues with the front office, your time will come (tomorrow, in fact as I break down the problems with Kyler himself)
But take a deep breath and know that the idea of team and football is more than just one person. It’s about a movement, from the coach to the players to the fans all acting as one in pursuit of a goal.
And that means that if Arizona moves on from Josh Rosen, even if I may disagree, even if I might have a preference, if it’s for the good of the team....
I can get over it.
I can get over it if Kyler is the first pick and Josh is traded, even if the value isn’t what I’d want...
And I’ll tell you, if those jerseys go on sale right after the draft and I can get a big ol’ “Murray #1” jersey to welcome in a new era of Cardinals football, I’ll be in the front of the line. I’ll be cheering on Sunday with everyone and would welcome ALL fans to not be upset or disgruntled from within but to instead be excited.
New isn’t always better, sure. I get that.
The Cardinals swung the bat with Josh Rosen last year and the first year was a strike, almost a strikeout.
If they do strikeout again, be proud and happy of your team for swinging the bat.
They didn’t go out and try to find a retread or a “safe” option at head coach in Kliff.
No, they swung the bat. And they’re more than ready to embrace the chaos if they do move on from Josh Rosen.
I’m getting used to it. I’m not there quite yet (see tomorrow) but even I can admit.
Life is easier when you can let go and embrace the chaos. And I’ll be #TeamChaos until that name is read and called and we can put this all to bed.
Once, and for all.
You can follow @blakemurphy7 on Twitter