Top of his class: As Cardinals struggle, Rosen makes mark among rookie QBs

Even though the Arizona Cardinals dropped to 0-4, Josh Rosen’s performance Sunday has been widely praised. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

TEMPE – Cardinals rookie quarterback Josh Rosen joined his 2018 NFL Draft quarterback class in the loss column on Sunday.

Rosen didn’t toss the most yards out of the group. He didn’t throw the most touchdowns. In fact, he didn’t even complete the most passes.

But he led the pack in completion percentage and the highly regarded passer rating.

“When you look at some of the bright spots of the game yesterday, you definitely have to look at Rosen,” Cardinals coach Steve Wilks said on Monday. “I thought he played well. I thought he gave us every opportunity to win that football game.”

Rookie quarterbacks Sam Darnold (New York Jets), Baker Mayfield (Cleveland Browns), and Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills) all failed to secure a victory in their respective outings in Week Four of the NFL season. In fact, the majority of them struggled.

Four rookie quarterbacks started in Week 4 of the NFL season. Each of their teams lost but this (above) is how they ranked based on quarterback rating. (Graphic by Bella Sisneros/Cronkite News)

But Rosen finished with an 88.5 passer rating in his debut. The next closest rookie was Darnold, who finished with a passer rating of 74.

Rosen also tallied a 55.6 percent completion percentage, good for first in his rookie class in Week Four. But that number could have been even higher according to Pro Football Focus.

The analytics and statistics group found that if the drops by Rosen’s receivers and throwaways were accounted for, Rosen’s completion percentage would have risen to 72 percent. For reference, that number would have tied him with Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings for ninth best percentage of the week.

“I thought the throws were right there where it needed to be,” Wilks said. “It was just a drop. A routine catch those guys normally make.”

Rosen performed ahead of the other rookies statistically despite it only being his first start. Mayfield joined Rosen as a first-time starter in week four, but even he had almost a full quarter and a half of NFL football under his belt after he entered the game before halftime in week three.

“I’m very excited about what we have in Josh,” Wilks said. “He gave us a spark that we needed.”

Another bright spot in Rosen, as Wilks noted, was his protection of the football. Rosen threw no interceptions on Sunday. Fellow rookies Mayfield and Allen both threw two apiece.

“Very impressed,” Wilks said. “We had one sack and that was early. We did a great job of protecting him and he did a great job of protecting the football.”

Going forward, it sure seems like the Cardinals have found the future of their franchise in Rosen. The young quarterback will look to get his first win in next week’s contest against an injury-plagued San Francisco 49ers team.

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