All signs pointed to A.J. McCarron entering the season as Matt Ryan‘s backup, even after a terrible performance against the Titans in the first preseason game. He started strong against the Dolphins in the second preseason game, but eventually, McCarron suffered a non-contact injury, which was later revealed as a torn ACL.
Enter Feleipe Franks, who performed equally unimpressive in both preseason matchups. His mobility is undeniable, but his accuracy and anticipatory skills are lacking for any level above the practice squad, so the Falcons signed Josh Rosen, who was brought in to compete with Franks — presumably for the backup job. Here is an excerpt of what Rosen brings and doesn’t bring to the Falcons:
One metric I always turn to is completion percentage above expectation, which Rosen ranked last in during the 2018 season, even behind Sam Darnold. It factors into account distance thrown, separation from nearest defender, and pressure faced before the pass. His 2019 season with Miami wasn’t much better; he was similarly at the bottom of the rankings in (+/-).
Essentially, Rosen sat around a -11% (+/-), which translates to: if a quarterback is expected to complete 60% of his passes, Rosen will complete on average 49% of those throws. It doesn’t consider dropped passes, which can be important because Miami’s receivers dropped around 8% of Rosen’s passes.
Another revealing statistic is adjusted net yards per attempt, which Rosen put up historically low numbers. This metric factors in passing yards, touchdowns, interceptions, and sacks then normalizes the sample on a per attempt basis. The average NFL quarterback is just over 6.2 ANY/A, and Rosen posted 3.5 and 2.1 ANY/A over his two seasons in 2018-2019.
Everything I’ve seen makes me think Rosen is an accurate quarterback if he doesn’t get knocked off his first read, but his accuracy diminishes rapidly as he goes through his progressions. This is without taking into account pressure, which drastically affects his accuracy and decision-making…
Rosen has decent footwork in the pocket, though it seems he has happy feet now because of how often he was hit, which he didn’t have in college; in fact, his footwork at UCLA was one thing that really impressed me… Though he has been reported as arrogant, much like Aaron Rodgers, he is still an intelligent individual who can pick up an offense quicker than some, which should give him a leg up in the competition to remain Matt Ryan‘s backup.
I believe Rosen is more capable of being a backup than Franks, but he’s still developing into a backup. His time as a potential starter is over. Even if Arthur Smith revived Ryan Tannehill‘s career, the same won’t happen for Rosen. He can develop into a backup, but more than likely, he is a placeholder for a quarterback the Falcons claim off waivers after the final 53-man cutdown. My prediction is the Falcons will scoop one of the below veterans off waivers.
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