What the Falcons are getting (and not getting) with former first-round pick Josh Rosen

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After being drafted tenth overall in 2018, Josh Rosen was thought by many to be the best quarterback in a class that saw five first-round picks spent on the position. The Falcons will now be the fifth NFL team for the 24-year-old Rosen. As a rookie, the former UCLA Bruin started 13 games, completing 55.2% of his passes for 2,278 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions under Steve Wilks, who was subsequently fired the following offseason. Kliff Kingsbury was brought in to replace him, and with the first overall pick in the 2019 draft, Kingsbury wanted Kyler Murray, which led to Rosen being traded to the Dolphins.

Rosen started three games for Miami in 2019, completing 53.2% of his passes for 567 yards, one touchdown, and five interceptions. Miami then waived him in September 2020 after selecting Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth-overall pick in the draft. Continuing to bounce around, Rosen found himself on the Tampa Bay practice squad before the 49ers signed him in December, but he didn’t appear in a game. In what is a continual cycle, San Francisco would go on to select theirย quarterback of the future in Trey Lance and waive Rosen.

Terry Fontenot signed Rosen out of necessity after A.J. McCarron went down with a torn ACL, but what exactly do the Falcons have (and don’t have) in Josh Rosen? The official Twitter of the Falcons was kind enough to give us his top plays from his time in Arizona, but you won’t find any highlights against Atlanta because he was sacked six times and threw two interceptions in his lone matchup with the Falcons.

To begin with, I am not a quarterback guru, but I was bullish on Rosen coming out of college, so I followed him a decent bit since entering the NFL, and these are just some of my observations. 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. During his time in Miami and Arizona, Rosen would mess it up if the play weren’t perfect. There was no chance he would create off-script.

Even when he did try to create something outside of the play, he often threw passes closer to defenders than his own receivers. However, with all that negativity, here are some positive things I saw.

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. That shouldn’t be too difficult to recapture with such a stout (kidding) Falcons offensive line (sarcasm).

Rosen is also more athletic than people give him credit for; hell, one of the ten highlights from the above video was a 40-yard scramble. 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 could develop into a solid backup, but his time as a starting quarterback in this league is gone. More than likely, Rosen is a placeholder for a quarterback the Falcons claim off waivers after the final 53-man cutdown.

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