Arizona finally ushered in the Josh Rosen era, and it was a stroke of genius by Steve Wilks.
When Josh Rosen was finally drafted back in April, he made an off-hand comment about the nine mistakes being made before him. It was a comment he later backed off of, but that was a glimpse inside the mind of a guy who was ready to make his mark in the NFL and openly displayed the chip on his shoulder.
Late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears, the Josh Rosen era began. Rather than giving Rosen the start — or first-team reps in practice that week — head coach Steve Wilks put him in to attempt a comeback win. Keep in mind, the Cardinals were winning the entire game, but Wilks yanked Sam Bradford after another pitiful performance in a contest he was only trailing by two-points in.
The manoeuvre was bold as hell and was a stroke of genius.
For starters, it shows that Wilks is ready to show confidence in Rosen. It’s a bit strange that he wasn’t given first-team reps during the week, but throwing his quarterback into the fire was a win-win situation. No one thinks the Cardinals are winning anything this year, and Rosen is the future. Wilks essentially put Rosen in a live drill, giving him game experience where he’d either lead the team to a comeback win or make a mistake in an affordable situation. Either way, Rosen was learning on the fly, gaining valuable experience without any risk whatsoever.
His first drive ended with an interception, but it was Rosen’s reaction to it that should give Cardinals fans faith that he’s their guy. Rather than look befuddled or upset, Rosen simply shrugged it off.
That’s the confidence teams yearn to see in their leader. His performance looks even better when juxtaposed against the abysmal performance by Mitchell Trubisky.
We only saw two drives by Rosen, but it’s hard to not like what we saw. He was composed, didn’t panic, and aside from the interception and a game-ending sack moved the Cardinals at a pretty solid pace. It was a small sample size, but he showed intelligence — like scrambling for a first down with time running off the clock and having the wherewithal to get out of bounds. He wasn’t perfect, but the cries for mercy by those who claimed he shouldn’t be played against the Bears defense were answered with a hush. Arizona didn’t lose because of Rosen or a mistake he made.
The future isn’t now for Arizona, but the baby steps have been made to inch us towards the Rosen era. Wilks needs all the credit in the world for finding the right situation to ease Rosen in and seizing it instead of shying away.