The Arizona Cardinals have a long history of being more than willing to throw their first-year signal-callers into the fire
The Arizona Cardinals must have known it was coming. Having a 20 million dollar free agent and a 10th-overall pick in the draft both vying for the team’s starting signal-caller job could only mean one thing. A bona fide, quarterback controversy has been created, one that promises to dominate the training camp headlines throughout the summer.
The history of the Cardinals football club indicates that they have very little problem with playing rookie passers. The idea of the youngsters standing around for a couple of years, holding clipboards, is apparently not appealing to the franchise. The Cards would much rather throw the player “to the wolves”, as the saying goes.
Therefore, the recent rumblings that Josh Rosen has a more than decent shot of overtaking Sam Bradford as Arizona’s week-one starter may have merit. New head coach Steve Wilks has promised that the best 22 players will take the field in September. Which essentially means that he’d be willing to put Bradford, the 20 million dollar man, on the bench if Rosen outplays the veteran in camp.
There are those around the NFL who believe that playing young quarterbacks too soon could potentially ruin their confidence. That it’s better to work them in slowly. Allowing the passers to learn from the sidelines before taking the reigns themselves could be highly beneficial, according to some so-called “experts”.
Back in 1981, when the Cardinals resided in St. Louis, Neil Lomax was drafted in the second round and proceeded to start seven times in 14 appearances. Veteran Jim Hart had been around since 1966, so St. Louis wanted to see what they had in the confident young rookie. Lomax certainly struggled, completing just 50.4 percent of his passes and throwing 10 interceptions against just four touchdowns, but the experience was invaluable.
Another second round pick, Jake Plummer, started nine contests during his initial, professional campaign in 1997. The “Snake” actually appeared in 10 games, completing 53.0 percent of his throws for 2,203 yards. Plummer accounted for 17 touchdowns in ’97 (15 passing, two rushing), though the Arizona State University product did toss 15 picks.
Matt Leinart, the 10th-overall pick of the 2006 draft, made 11 starts in 12 appearances for Arizona as a rookie. The former USC Trojan completed 56.8 percent of his attempts for 2,547 yards, with 11 passing scores and 12 interceptions.
A couple of other first-year players have made starts for the Cards in the past, as well. John Skelton, a fifth-round pick, made four for the squad in 2010. Ryan Lindley got to start in four games after he was selected in the sixth round of the 2012 draft.
There’s an extremely good possibility that Rosen will be added to this group before 2018 comes to an end. If the former UCLA Bruin doesn’t win the competition outright, Bradford’s susceptibility to injury could ultimately propel this year’s first-rounder into the starting lineup. The Cardinals’ propensity for playing rookie quarterbacks is proof that they would not be opposed to that happening.