Two Sundays ago, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray made his much-anticipated NFL debut against the Detroit Lions. Murray, last season’s Heisman winner at Oklahoma, struggled through three quarters and the Cardinals fell behind 24-6 late. Then, Murray came alive, spurring an 18-point fourth quarter with two touchdown passes, one with only 43 seconds left to play. Though the game ended in a 27-27 tie, the Cardinals, who drafted Murray with the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, had to feel a little relief. It was only a year ago that they traded up in the draft to take UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen with the No. 10 pick. Rosen was hailed as a pro-style prospect and the Cardinals were eager to invest in him. Oh, the way things change. Now, the Cardinals are Murray’s and Rosen is on the Miami Dolphins, a team that some have said is tanking to improve their draft status in 2020. How did things go so wrong, so quickly for Rosen?
Rosen — in many ways — was never given a chance to succeed in Arizona. He was forced to start by Week 4 after Sam Bradford led the Cardinals to an 0-3 start. Rosen was sharp in his first start against a stout Seattle Seahawks defense, completing 15 of 27 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown pass in a narrow 20-17 loss. But Rosen failed to improve over the following weeks, often forcing throws into traffic -- he threw 13 interceptions in 13 starts -- and posting a paltry 55% completion percentage, which ranked No. 32 out of 33 for eligible starting quarterbacks. But blame for Rosen’s struggles could easily be cast on an offensive line that rated dead-last in the NFL, per PFF. The Cardinals’ coaching staff was hardly stable, either -- they fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and replaced him with their quarterback coach, Byron Leftwich, after a 45-10 blowout loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 7.
After the 3-13 Cardinals landed the No. 1 pick in the draft, Rosen’s future in Arizona was soon thrown into question. The Cardinals had hired Kliff Kingsbury, a proponent of the Air Raid offense that had coached the likes of Johnny Manziel and Patrick Mahomes in college — and with the uber-athletic Kyler Murray climbing up draft boards, why wouldn’t they move on from a slower-moving Rosen? In the days leading to the draft, the Cardinals actively shopped Rosen, hoping to find a team willing to part with their first-round draft pick. They couldn’t deal Rosen before draft day, but it didn’t matter. The Cardinals drafted Murray anyway. Then, a day later, they traded Rosen to the Miami Dolphins for a second-round pick and fifth-round pick. Rosen, who four years prior was considered the best high school football player in the country, was once again starting over with his second NFL franchise.
While Murray sparked the Cardinals’ Week 1 comeback, Josh Rosen watched Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson set the Dolphins ablaze. Jackson threw for five touchdown passes and 324 yards as the Ravens drubbed the Dolphins 59-10. Rosen, now serving as quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s backup, entered the game late, only to throw an interception on three pass attempts. In Week 2, the New England Patriots — I know, right? — marched into Miami, routing the Dolphins 43-0. Rosen got more burn, but the results were no different, as he completed only seven of 18 pass attempts and tossed another interception. But, like in Arizona last season, how can Rosen possibly be expected to succeed on a team that already has its eyes set on the offseason?
Rosen was named the Dolphins’ starting quarterback this week by head coach Brian Flores. It was only a matter of time, considering Ryan Fitzpatrick’s ineptitude, but the road ahead for Rosen is a rocky one. The Dolphins are scheduled to play the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3 and the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 4, two playoff teams with capable pass rushers. The Dolphins, much like Rosen’s alma mater, are staring at an almost inevitable 0-4 start. At this point, it’s clear that Rosen is more of a stop-gap during a lost season than an actual long-term answer at quarterback. That’s unfortunate because Rosen, despite everything, is still only 22 years old. Sure, he’s not a sure thing, nobody is. But rather than develop his decision-making behind a talented veteran a la Aaron Rodgers or Jimmy Garoppolo, Rosen has to spend his early NFL years fending for his life on failing franchises.
Rosen is going to get his chance in Miami, but it’s far from a fair one. It remains to be seen if — and where — he ever gets an opportunity to truly be The Chosen One.