The Josh Rosen Story

Mason Thompson | December 17th, 2019 

It’s early April of 2018, a few weeks before the NFL draft. Analysts are going back and forth between who the Browns should take with the first overall pick. Mocks have the Browns taking Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, and Baker Mayfield. Darnold and Rosen are the first two on most boards. With Baker having “character” concerns, Allen having severe accuracy problems, and Lamar Jackson haters aplenty, Darnold and Rosen seemed like the two safest bets at the quarterback position.

Fast forward to December of 2019. Jackson is the front-runner for the league’s MVP award, Allen is leading the Bills to the playoffs, Darnold is still developing under Adam Gase who could eventually be fired, Mayfield has been inconsistent, and Rosen, well, he’s on his second team in as many years.

Let’s take a look at what happened to Rosen. His draft day free-fall, the year with the Cardinals, the 2019 offseason drama, and the year with the Dolphins.

College Career

Rosen was a three-year starter at UCLA. His freshman year he burst onto the scene throwing for over 3,600 yards and tossing 23 touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions. Rosen’s sophomore year was cut short due to a shoulder injury suffered against Arizona State, only playing six games. Fast-forward to his junior year. Rosen would suffer not one, but two concussions in less than a month. In 11 games, he would throw for over 3,700 yards and throw for 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions before declaring for the draft.

2018 NFL Draft

I for one had Rosen as my top quarterback in the draft, followed by Mayfield, then Darnold. Darnold was my last mock draft pick to Cleveland but I definitely wasn’t surprised that John Dorsey took the chance on Mayfield. The Jets had no choice but to take Darnold at three, and although it hasn’t worked out just yet, he has all the tools to turn the Jets into contenders. The Bills traded up not just once but twice to move up to seven to take their quarterback. It was between Allen and Rosen.

Allen offered immense upside with a cannon for an arm, while Rosen offered the perfect mix to become a future star in the league. The Bills went upside, taking Allen over Rosen. Many wondered, why was he falling? Finally, the Cardinals would trade up with the Raiders and select him with the tenth pick.

Rosen was very outspoken through the draft process. He claimed that he was the “best quarterback in the class” several times. So, why did the most technically-sound quarterback fall in this draft? Well, teams were concerned about his passion for football. He had other passions along with football. Yes, that’s one of the main reasons he fell. Nothing to do with the sport itself, it was his life outside of football. Rosen was given the short end of the stick during the draft, as well as throughout his rookie campaign.

2018 Season – Arizona Cardinals

Rosen began the 2018 season on the bench behind Sam Bradford. He would come in late in the game in week three against the Bears before starting in week four against the Seahawks, and wouldn’t give up the job the rest of the year. Rosen would lead the team to their only three wins of the year, two against the 49ers and the other against the Packers.

The Cardinals would wind up 3-13, earning the first pick in April’s draft. Rosen threw for over 2,200 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. Yes, his stats weren’t great but he was also sacked 45 times in a little over 13 games. He had no offensive line help at all, a defensive-minded head coach, no running game, and a defense that was lackluster, despite having Chandler Jones and Patrick Peterson.

2019 Offseason

The Cardinals disaster season wound up getting first-year coach Steve Wilks fired. With a starting quarterback in place, the Cardinals looked to get a mastermind to help Rosen’s development. The Cardinals did hire an offensive-minded coach but it was one that didn’t really match Rosen’s skillset, which left many people scratching their heads.

Kliff Kingsbury would be hired as the Cardinals’ head coach. Kingsbury was the head coach at Texas Tech from 2013-2018. Before that though, he would coach Johnny Manziel to a Heisman trophy as the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M. He would coach Baker Mayfield during the 2013 season, before switching to Davis Webb due to Mayfield suffering a knee injury. Kingsbury also coached Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech. He left Texas Tech with an overall record of 35-40.

During his coaching career, Kingsbury didn’t keep his opinions a secret on Oklahoma quarterback, Kyler Murray. He had said in an interview that if he was an NFL coach, he would pick him with the first overall pick if he had the choice. Not only was he now an NFL coach, but he also had the first pick.

The Cardinals would make the decision to draft Murray with the first overall pick, a year after taking Rosen with the 10th pick. There was no way that the Cardinals would keep both Murray and Rosen on the roster for very long. Many thought that he could be traded on the first night. Then, the Giants and Redskins, two teams that were ideal fits for Rosen, wound up taking quarterbacks. Finally, one team made the move to trade for him. On the second night of the draft, the Miami Dolphins would trade for Rosen, giving up the 62nd overall pick (Andy Isabella, WR, UMass) and a 2020 fifth-round pick.

2019 Season – Miami Dolphins

Before we take a look at Rosen this season, we have to look at the Dolphins as a whole. Miami had possibly the worst roster for an NFL team in years at the beginning of the year. They traded away Kiko Alonso, Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills, Kenyan Drake, and Minkah Fitzpatrick. The Dolphins now have a ton of draft capital, including three first-round picks.

Lacking any talent offensively, Rosen was put into another awful situation, similar to the one he was in with Arizona. The difference? It seems like Miami never actually had a plan in place for Rosen. He has been on the field and on the bench multiple times this year. He is currently on the bench. During his time as the starter, he was plagued by a terrible surrounding cast that would drop passes several times again, along with no running game and a terrible offensive line. Rosen only has one touchdown compared to five interceptions this year.

The Future

Miami currently holds the third overall pick. Justin Herbert is definitely in play along with Tua Tagovailoa if he decides to declare. Personally, I feel as if the Dolphins should stick with Rosen and build around him. With the third pick, it’s possible that the Dolphins could take Alabama wide receiver, Jerry Jeudy. After that, build up the offensive line and get him some defensive help, and a running back.

What happens if the Dolphins take Tua? A trade for Rosen would likely happen again. Teams like Chicago, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Jacksonville, and Indianapolis all have a quarterback need. Other teams like New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and the Los Angeles Chargers have aging veterans with no reliable backup plan.

Either way, Rosen has been given the short-end of the stick with both of his teams. Arizona gave up on him because a coach was in love with another quarterback who matched his system better. Miami is at a crossroads. Rosen still has all the potential to become a starting quarterback and become a star in today’s league. He just needs to be given the right opportunity in the right situation. That hasn’t happened yet.

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