Dear Arizona Cardinals and Kyler Murray fans:
So, it’s come to this.
We’re reaching the point where my own take that stretched from January 12th until now, that there was a “95% chance the Cardinals keep Josh Rosen” has now dwindled to a “5% chance the Cardinals keep Josh Rosen.”
The noise at this point is almost overwhelming, as is the evidence both publicly and privately appears to mount towards an inevitable conclusion:
Kyler Murray will be the next quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals.
Despite them drafting Josh Rosen a year previously; they’ll move on.
Now, I know that there are still a plethora (and I do mean that) of fans who vehemently disagree with the above statement.
Whether it’s believed to be a smokescreen, disbelief, denial or the lack of a burden of proof, there’s still won’t be, for many, anything close to a resolution or acknowledgement until the deed is done (and indeed, y’all still do have a valid point)
One thing that keeps giving me pause is that they haven’t pulled the trigger on a Rosen trade. If the organization was all-in on Kyler and were like “that’s our guy for the next decade”, it does seem like they’d have moved off Rosen in early FA https://t.co/WZqpeSkzxr— Ian Kenyon (@IanKenyonNFL) March 28, 2019
But humor me for a second.
Let’s imagine that it IS a done deal and absolute and go off from there. Because in that case, there’s a few things I need to go over.
First of all,
The biggest issue that I have with a move like this is that in some cases, it feels like my trust has been broken.
It’s almost like a flashback to last week....uh... cough cough the 8th grade (there we go) where the girl that you liked went “You know, I don’t think I feel the same way you do and we should go back to being friends.”
I’ve been a notable supporter of Josh Rosen and the Cardinals’ decision to trade up and draft him at #10 overall. But moreover, I’ve been a believer in the Arizona Cardinals’ desperate need for a young franchise quarterback on a rookie QB contract.
When the NFL paints a lane for success, you switch lanes over amidst the traffic and get in that fast lane. That path to success is pairing an offensive play calling guru who can craft an offense that can put points on the board with a veteran defensive mind and utilizing the rookie Quarterback contract to free up cap space and make a run. We’ve seen all three other NFC West teams legit head to or win a Super Bowl in the last decade.
The Cardinals? Married an aging head coach and an aging quarterback and didn’t prepare for the inevitable collapse that would follow.
The team avoided that desperately last year, pairing a defensive “rah-rah” coach with an offensive...coach? I don’t know if Mike McCoy was worthy of that after his 2nd firing in two years but at least they got the quarterback.
Josh Rosen had a personality, he was heavily criticized in the pre-draft process and came into the league professing to having a chip on his shoulder and went on to be whatever the opposite of Jay Cutler was as a vocal leader.
His interviews and toughness shined through despite a 3-13 season, and even though you rode the “Rosencoaster” with his ups and downs, he still put the team in position to win the game 5-6 times late in the game and kept getting up despite taking a beating with no talent, offensive line or receivers around him.
He was set up to fail but he was still standing.
And maybe that endeared him to the Cardinals fan base a bit more than he deserved. It’s not like he was Mayfield or Darnold but we didn’t have to look far to see the likes of Trubisky/Goff and more who’ve bounced back after a rough rookie season.
Surely Josh Rosen would be the same?
Add Rosen’s improvement, put a Nick Bosa/a Quinnen Williams and add some OL and receiver talent and suddenly maybe the Cardinals could be a sleeper team next year to see a big-time improvement.
That even seemed to be the plan, with the team eschewing retread head coaching options on the offensive side of the ball for new ones and settled on one who has a higher degree of performance and pedigree in Kingsbury...but also a much higher degree of risk coming straight from college without a winning record.
It was all part of the plan.
Then these Kyler rumors started and suddenly instead of being outright dismissed, they started to take hold even further.
WHAT IS GOING ON?
It felt like you showed up at a party and your girlfriend was there openly flirting with another guy despite the fact that you just put a ring on that finger last week to make her your fianceé.
Perhaps I got it totally wrong...or perhaps I am getting it wrong RIGHT NOW. There’s a legit fear that me, and many Cardinals fans share.
What happens if Kyler busts out and Rosen goes on to live up to the potential we saw that he might have as a rookie?
You’d essentially end up with THREE wasted opportunities: missing on Rosen by moving on, missing on Kyler AND missing on Bosa if he becomes a stud.
That’s....a lot to take in for fans who slummed through a season that probably should have been closer to 0-16 than it was to 3-13 all with the one shining hope of a young QB to build around.
And that’s gonna take a bit of time for that would, nay, that BETRAYAL to heal for a lot of fans who feel like it was a slap in the face.
Because Kyler’s got some concerns too. Outside of the size (small running QB?) and only one year of starting at Oklahoma surrounded by a boatload of talent, many knock his decision to play football now when baseball’s looming out there as a possibility.
You want someone who’s loyal & loves the game and honestly, Murray’s so new to all of this it’s impossible not to knock him.
The “Kyler is short memes” have gone viral, as have some of the comparisons.
I could say he’s got the arm of Mahomes, the legs of Michael Vick, the forehead of Peyton Manning and nearly exact proportions at 5’10, 190 lbs to my dad, Randy (who’s 62 and not going to go #1 overall this year, unfortunately).
It’s also hard when so many respected draft evaluators have come out and said “Yeah, I’d take Rosen over Murray on an open field.” Ooooohhh boy.
You feel like the new Browns, or like the 2010-2012 Cardinals. Just look at how not a single one of Steve Keim’s 1st round draft picks from 2013-today will be on the roster likely after this year.
It makes you mad. Your goal is blocked.
You don’t want to be the laughingstock of the league and so many people are shaming and slamming this decision harder than when in 1998 the Undertaker threw Mankind off of Hell in a Cell where he plummeted 16 feet through an announcers table.
And most of the fans who’ve embraced the “Team Chaos” approach...really only did so with the idea that the end goal was “Rosen’s the guy, let’s get him some help.”
It’s a massive risk.
No wonder fans are worried.
Some, I know, are talking about selling their season tickets or are reticient if they take Murray and think it’ll be a disaster.
And while there’s definitely fear involved, I will at least say this: it’s a game.
And it’s not like Arizona’s making this move for a quarterback like Tebow or Lamar Jackson who can’t throw the ball or was terrible but fit the “ideal” at #1.
I’ll give you this as to part of why I’m starting to come around to it...
-Kyler Murray was a Heisman winner and the best player in college football last year not named Quinnen Williams
-His arm is just as good as, if not better than Rosen’s on a Mahomes-ian type level (if you don’t believe that, then watch him more.
-His athleticism and escapability is on an insane level where it dwarfs just about every QB in the NFL not named Lamar Jackson (yeah, even Russell Wilson didn’t perform or explode when running the ball like Kyler did)
-He has a personal connection and trust with Kliff Kingsbury, a noted QB evaluator who’s raved about Murray since he was in high school and has tried to recruit him for 6 years and the first time he gets his shot and an opportunity...he wins a Heisman with one of the best seasons of any college quarterback in the 100+ history of the sport
-And finally...maybe I can admit that Josh Rosen, in some cases, just wasn’t as good as I thought he was or that he might be.
Who would you prefer?— Coximus (@Coximus2) March 28, 2019
QB1: 55.2% 11 TDs, 14 INTs, 162.7ypg, 5.8 y/a, 66.7 rtng
QB2: 54.9%, 11 TDs, 14 INTs, 239.1ypg, 7.0 y/a, 68.9 rtng
I looked up the two quarterbacks and QB A is clearly Josh Rosen.
Take a guess.
You did? Okay, here goes.
It’s John Skelton.
Oof. That goes to show how awful things were for Rosen. Not just in his situation but there were definitely missed reads, missed opportunities, mistakes and not a ton of progress.
Kyler ain’t a sure thing.
But neither is Josh Rosen’s development. And if we get to year 4 and go “Oh man, Josh ain’t it and didn’t develop” while Kyler Murray in Oakland with Antonio Brown and Jon Gruden is dueling Pat Mahomes to 45+ point games, it’ll look just as stupid as it did when the Cardinals didn’t move up for Mahomes in the first place.
It’s riskier than Mahomes, for sure. But...
Heck, even more so if the head coach who FOUND and DEVELOPED said Pat Mahomes is like: “This guy is great” and you’re fretting about the capital you spent on Josh and commit to him and in hindsight shackled the guy you brought in to trust to fix your team.
So in that sense, Kyler Murray fans, I’m gonna say that you might be right.
Kyler might just be better. Not just in Kliff’s system, but just better overall.
There were also questions pre-draft about Rosen as a leader and while I don’t know Josh the man or pretend that I do, it’s easy to see that Kliff Kingsbury’s eyes light up not when talking about Josh, but when talking about Kyler.
It hasn’t made it any easier for me...but it’s starting to grow on me that you know, maybe the Cardinals DO know what they’re doing. If Kliff Kingsbury came in and said “You know Josh Rosen might be Jameis Winston, but I know a guy that I can make into a Patrick Mahomes with Russell Wilson’s legs” would you not at least trust him?
Trust takes time, however. Kliff’s had none of it.
So I’ll make this request.
If you were a supporter of Kyler Murray, don’t treat those like me who were stumping for Rosen like idiots, or mock them or make fun of them. Don’t laugh at those who mourn if and when it’s not a smokescreen for a trade-down but instead the Cardinals admitting a loss.
Don’t be “that guy” who boasts when someone’s just had a breakup go “See? I told you that you were wrong but did you listen to me? NOOOOOO....”
That never is received well.
There’s a grieving process amidst the chaos. Heck, I even have been seeing it happen in real time: (warning some language below)
Bargaining stage ✅— BlaKe Allen Murphy (@blakemurphy7) March 28, 2019
“Okay we will draft Kyler....but keep Rosen and run a 2 QB offense!” pic.twitter.com/IpYTr1xumd
Instead push them to do what we know all Cards fans will do in the end: accept it, root for the best and cheer loud for the team.
If Kyler Murray lives up to the lofty expectations and the team goes from having a “Quarterback of the Future” to a “Quarterback of the Now” in 2019, will we really care about what happens to Rosen?
We’ll have never seen anything like it, a young, electric playmaker in a high-tech and new-fangled cutting edge offense on the State Farm Stadium Field. We’ve only seen that twice before as fans.
First: Larry Fitzgerald. Second: David Johnson. If Kyler Murray can be the third and he leads the Cardinals to the playoffs within the span of his rookie deal, who am I to complain about how they got there?
It’s an end-results business after all.
And perhaps all these roadblocks that the Cardinals and their front office in the post-Arians era have gone through, instead of seeing them as that, viewing them as stepping stones to the future.
So be easy on us Josh Rosen people, Kyler Murray fans.
I’m not there quite yet.
But if the Cards make this move? It’s hard to see a downside if Murray’s gonna be that much better.
And I have to admit. The kid, and this bold decision to go all-in on being absolutely sure that you have a superstar at the quarterback position is growing on me day by day.
You can follow @blakemurphy7 on Twitter and on the Revenge of the Birds podcast.