Picture this: It’s April 25, 2018 and a group of NFL reporters are arguing over the potential stardom of college quarterbacks Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and of course, Josh Rosen. They are critiquing each of these potential draft picks for their passing and leadership abilities. The next night, the draft opens and the Cleveland Browns are on the clock. Unexpectedly, they choose Baker Mayfield No. 1 overall. Then Darnold, then Allen and at the end of the first round, Jackson. The most surprising pick is Rosen, who goes No. 10 to the Arizona Cardinals, a team that never truly wanted him.
Coming out of UCLA, Rosen had been expected to go much higher. He had gone through multiple offensive coordinators while attending UCLA, but the talent was there. He had a good combine and seemed motivated after being picked by the Cardinals, who had just hired head coach Steve Wilks and seen Carson Palmer retire. Fast-forward to the start of that season when Rosen lost the starting job to Sam Bradford.
Rosen eventually got his chance — and his play was very average. The rookie QB wasn’t to blame for all the problems in Arizona, where first-time head coach Wilks provided lackluster offensive and defensive philosophies. The Cardinals finished with the worst record in the NFL. They then hired Kliff Kingsbury from the college ranks to replace Wilks, who left Rosen and the NFL media alike knowing his future in Arizona was coming to a quick close.
Arizona drafted Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray No. 1 overall during the 2019 NFL Draft. The next day, they traded Rosen to the Dolphins. Rosen took it with class. He even offered his place for rent to Murray.
Josh Rosen congratulated Kyler…and offered him his old apartment 🤣
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) April 27, 2019
That trade intrigued Dolphins fans. Rosen clearly had the talent but was lacking in important aspects of his game. Being able to learn behind veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick seemed like the perfect chance for Rosen to hone his talents.
He had a standout preseason. Undrafted rookie wide receiver Preston Williams was one of his main targets.
Josh Rosen with the pass ✅
Undrafted rookie Preston Williams with the one-handed grab ✅
— ESPN (@espn) August 9, 2019
Dolphins coach Brian Flores, however, went with the veteran Fitzpatrick over Rosen. Fast-forward through a bad play from Fitzpatrick and Rosen got his chance at the end of games. He showed a little promise but his receivers dropped multiple passes, including some that should’ve gone for touchdowns. Rosen followed that with horrendous starts and was ultimately benched.
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) September 26, 2019
Which brings us to the now: Rosen is the backup, Fitzpatrick is staying another year and the Dolphins are in prime position to draft one of the four major QB targets for the 2020 NFL draft. So where does this leave Rosen? As mentioned, he’s dealt with constant change at the offensive coordinator position. If he enters the 2020 season with the Dolphins, he’ll be on No. 7. Rosen played three years in college and two years in the NFL.
Josh Rosen offensive coordinators
2015 UCLA (Noel Mazzone)
2016 UCLA (Kennedy Polamalu)
2017 UCLA (Jedd Fisch)
2018 ARI (Byron Leftwich, Mike McCoy)
2019 MIA (Chad O’Shea)
He’s been set up to fail more than any QB in recent memory.
— Paul Hembekides (@PaulHembo) September 2, 2019
It’s almost impossible for young QBs to adapt and learn how to truly play the game when they’re learning a new offensive system each season. Hell, Super Bowl champ Patrick Mahomes just said he started to really learn how to truly read a defensive scheme this year. He had insane talent and now has the mindset needed — partially as a result of continuity with offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy.
Some offensive playbooks change names and certain concepts. A dig or post in one playbook could be called something different from another play-caller. They’re the same route, but play-callers have to always adapt. Oh, and on top of that, Rosen is being rushed as soon as the ball is snapped on piss-poor offensive lines. It’s not easy.
However, not everything can be blamed on changes in coaching. Rosen wasn’t a good or even average QB during the 2019-2020 NFL season. He was missing receivers and still hadn’t learned how to identify the mike (middle) linebacker in a defensive scheme. One of the basic concepts needed in order to succeed in the NFL.
josh rosen transformed into ryan tannehill and HAD no idea the LB was there. bad throw. pic.twitter.com/EHLUGi71j0
— josh houtz (@houtz) August 9, 2019
As Josh Houtz references in this tweet, Rosen completely misses on identifying the linebacker in this play (from the preseason which makes it worse in my opinion) and throws a terrible interception. Rosen stares down Isaiah Ford (#84) and both linebackers that dropped into coverage for the Falcons follow his eyes. One gets the pick. Off the snap, the Falcons had two interior defensive linemen and two rushers off the edge. Linebackers are dropping back into coverage. It’s hard to see exactly what is happening in coverage elsewhere in this video, but Rosen clearly had the time (something he didn’t have in the regular season) and just whiffed on his throw and misidentified where the linebackers were. This is just one of the many examples this season when Rosen just couldn’t make the play or was too obvious.
Then come his “attitude problems.” When he declared for the 2018 NFL draft, Rosen was criticized for being stuck up and living a posh lifestyle. When he unfollowed the Cardinals on Instagram on draft night he was almost stoned to death by the NFL media. Most notably by former NFL wide receiver Steve Smith.
However, the claims from Smith were shot down almost immediately by Rosen. He just needs to step up — whether he is on the Dolphins roster or not. If he can’t, his role as a backup QB will be cemented.
So what should the Dolphins do? Personally I think that Rosen still has some potential. The Dolphins will need to draft a quarterback in the 2020 NFL draft, but they should keep Rosen on the team.
Rosen’s contract is on the extremely cheap end. His cap hit for the next two seasons will be $2.9 million max. This will at the very least leave the Dolphins with a very serviceable backup QB. Plus who knows, if things don’t fall the way the team hopes in the draft, he is potentially a solid QB. Keep Rosen.