Josh Rosen learning NFL defense is a whole different game


One of the alleged knocks on quarterback Josh Rosen during the pre-draft season — at least among those who think football players should only think football — came when his college coach described his “millennial” mindset.

Former UCLA coach Jim Mora said Rosen: “needs to be challenged intellectually so he doesn’t get bored.”

That doesn’t appear to be a problem so far in Cardinals camp, as Rosen told Peter King of NBC’s Football Morning in America that he’s learning so much about defense in practice that he never knew.

“I think I see defenses a lot better than I did in college,” Rosen said. “Pre-snap moreso, because in college it’s like you had to acknowledge the front and coverage—just kind of take it in, snap the ball, then play. It’s like, ‘I think I got cover three, I get the snap and oh, it’s cover two. Well, gotta throw it somewhere.’ Now, I have to actually make checks and change plays according to fronts, linebackers, safeties.

“So instead of just seeing it and reacting live and playing, I have to diagnose it, and when you have to diagnose the defense before a play, it means you pretty much have to learn it. Because you can’t just stand up at the line and guess. Processing that information at the line has helped me do more. I think I see defenses a lot more clearly now, and I’m understanding matchups much better.”

Rosen said the multiple looks he gets from teammates in practice force him to be aware on every snap, and seeing the speed of pass-rusher Chandler Jones helps him understand how quickly the clock will move at this level.

“I just don’t have the time I had [at UCLA],” he said. “But there’s a problem with that. If you’re consciously trying to play faster, if you think, ‘Be fast, be fast,’ then you’re kind of screwed. It just has to happen. It has to be just in you to react quickly. The second you’re thinking, ‘Oh, I’ve gotta be quicker on this’ rather than just thinking about making the right play, I think the league might not be cut out for you.”

Rosen’s not going to replace Sam Bradford in the starting lineup — at least not yet — but he has played well in the preseason. In Saturday’s game against the Saints, he was 10-of-16 for 107 yards and a touchdown for a 102.9 rating, leading two scoring drives in his 27 snaps.