It’s time to start Josh Rosen.
The No. 10 pick from UCLA was the most game-ready quarterback in the 2018 draft, a guy who threw Sunday passes on Saturdays, and the Arizona Cardinals need to bump him ahead of Sam Bradford.
That might not have made a significant difference Sunday, when the Cardinals were throttled by the Rams 34-0, but with the season already slipping away from 0-2 Arizona, and its offense overheating like a Yugo in the Yuha Desert, there’s no time like the present.
The New York Jets handed the keys to Sam Darnold. Josh Allen is getting a chance in Buffalo. Now, the struggling Cardinals should complete the handoff from Bradford to Rosen.
And look at the young quarterbacks who have a bit more experience on their resume.
Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, who got a taste with one start last season, has been phenomenal through two games. The Chiefs haven’t even had their home opener, and already Mahomes has 10 touchdown passes — four in the opener against the Chargers, and six Sunday at Pittsburgh.
The Cardinals need to take the wrapper off Rosen, and sooner is better than later. Yes, it’s quicker than the original timetable. Yes, it isn’t ideal that Arizona is playing Khalil Mack and the Chicago Bears next week, when there could be a more rookie-friendly opponent on the schedule. But a change needs to happen.
Steve Wilks certainly didn’t foreclose on that option Sunday, after the Rams embarrassed his team. The first-year Cardinals coach said all options are on the table in terms of evaluating, and possibly replacing personnel. He declined to elaborate on whether there might be a quarterback change, only that he had no intention of throwing in Rosen against the Rams.
“Number one, across the board, we’ve got to connect a little bit more with completions,” said Wilks, who had 83 yards passing to the Rams’ 342. “Was that completely Sam? Sometimes he was running for his life, so we’ve got to do a better job protecting him.”
Byron Leftwich, Arizona’s quarterbacks coach who was selected seventh by Jacksonville in the 2003 draft, took over as the Jaguars’ starter in Week 4 of his rookie season because of an injury to Mark Brunell. He had a decent rookie year, and knows the challenge of making that step from college to the pros.
So far, Arizona has struggled mightily.
They didn’t cross midfield until there were 36 seconds left in Sunday’s game, and they had one snap in Rams territory.
Bradford’s longest pass went for 15 yards, and almost every attempt was a short throw or dump-off.
“Frustrating to say the least,” Bradford said. “I think to put so much work and so much effort into getting back onto the field, and then to play the way we have in the past two weeks, I think it’s really disappointing.”
As Bradford was at the lectern in a Coliseum interview tent, Rosen was making his way up the ramp from the visitors’ locker room to the bus. There’s no upside to him doing anything but keeping quiet now and patiently waiting for his turn.
“All that stuff’s out of my control,” he said. “I’m just trying to help the Cardinals as much as I can, and if Sam’s the starter, then I’m trying to help him as much as I can.”
Is it difficult to wait and watch?
“Losing sucks, regardless,” he said.
Not so long ago, the Rams were in a somewhat similar situation. Two years ago, when Jeff Fisher was coach, he stubbornly held off playing Jared Goff as long as he could before the pressure and the losses piled too high.
It’s not that Goff would have been so much better than Case Keenum. That Rams offense was lousy either way, and the team was 0-7 with Goff as the starter once he finally got in. But it was the headstrong postponing of the inevitable that was maddening.
The way it is now, Rosen isn’t getting any experience in games, and he’s not getting the snaps with the No. 1 offense in practice. The drumbeat will only get louder for Wilks to make a swap.
Back in May, when he was chosen 10th, the outspoken Rosen said, “Nine mistakes were made ahead of me.” He later amended that to say the teams that took quarterbacks before him — Cleveland (Baker Mayfield), the Jets, and Bills — were the ones who truly made mistakes.
Now, the Cardinals can avoid a mistake of their own. No more waiting; let the Rosen era begin.
Follow Sam Farmer on Twitter @LATimesfarmer