The Arizona Cardinals selected Oklahoma signal caller Kyler Murray with the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. This selection caused a chain reaction that led to the trade of QB Josh Rosen to the Miami Dolphins. The trade has sparked conversation and debate across social media, as well as reactions from former players and members of media. All of this was unfathomable one year ago, when the Cardinals traded up to select Rosen, then coming out of UCLA. What happened between then and now?
We should go all the way back to when the Cardinals hired then-Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks as head coach. All indications from that hiring told us the Cardinals were focused on the defensive side of the ball. The team did have problems on offense. Their offensive line was a major weakness, and there were few weapons on the offensive side of the ball besides future Hall of Fame WR Larry Fitzgerald and RB David Johnson. Despite this, a defensive-minded philosophy was implemented.
As the calendar advanced closer to the NFL Draft, there were rumors that the Cardinals were interested in drafting a quarterback of the future. Rosen’s name did come up from time to time, so it was a real possibility. On Day 1, the Cardinals traded up with the Oakland Raiders to #10 and grabbed Rosen. He was not supposed to start right away, and he didn’t. The Cardinals went with former #1 pick Sam Bradford to begin the season. However, Bradford got hurt, and Rosen was thrown into the fire.
Rosen, with a subpar offensive line and few weapons around him, predictably struggled. Arizona went 3-10 with Rosen under center. He threw 11 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. The Cardinals, as you can guess, missed the playoffs. Arizona gutted their coaching staff and hired Kliff Kingsbury, who had just agreed to become the offensive coordinator at USC as their next head coach. A previous interview from Kingsbury came to the surface soon after. In this interview, he iterated that if he had the chance, he preferred to select Murray with the first overall pick.
It happened. Murray went first overall despite all the comments on how Rosen was the man in Arizona. One of the loudest critics of Rosen was former NFL wide receiver Steve Smith. He had words for the young signal caller during Day 2 of the NFL Draft after Rosen had unfollowed the Cardinals on social media. He called Rosen “replaceable” and claimed he wasn’t up for a competition. This is where I think things get lost in translation. Imagine this:
You’re Josh Rosen. The Arizona Cardinals trade up to draft you. They have a defensive-minded philosophy already implemented, and the team expects you to carry the offense on your own. Halfway through the season, they fire your offensive coordinator. Now, you have to adjust to a new system in the middle of the season. After the season finishes, and you predictably struggle, the organization guts your coaching staff.
Rumors begin to swirl that the new head coach, Kliff Kingsbury, may actually want to follow through on selecting Kyler Murray first overall. The rumors are understandable, and the media loves drama. As the draft nears, the rumors only intensify. Media pundits are calling it a foregone conclusion and are already speculating where you’ll be traded to.
Finally, it’s Thursday night. The Cardinals have 10 minutes to decide if they’re going to stick with you, or if they are going to replace you. The pick is in, and with the first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select Kyler Murray, quarterback, Oklahoma.
Why wouldn’t you unfollow the Cardinals? You see the writing on the wall. Contrary to what Steve Smith seemed to infer, the Cardinals didn’t draft Murray to give Rosen competition. If that was their motive, then they should have taken DT Quinnen Williams or Edge Nick Bosa, or should have traded out. Murray was always going to replace Rosen. He didn’t say a word about this situation until it ended, and he showed more poise, class, and maturity than some NFL veterans have.
Miami is taking a flier on Rosen. While their offensive line isn’t much better than Arizona’s, they have more offensively for Rosen to work with. Jim Caldwell has helped Matt Stafford, Peyton Manning, and Joe Flacco when they needed it most. While conservative in nature, the new Dolphins quarterbacks coach is definitely a valued mentor for the second-year QB.
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