There was an even sadder QB in Tampa Bay than Tom Brady this past weekend. Poor Josh Rosen. Sitting all alone in the Tampa Bay seats, looking angry at the world. Not even on the sidelines with the team. Alone, unloved, unwanted. Just 3 seasons after being picked at 10th overall.

When the subject of Josh Rosen comes up these days you get one of two responses. In camp one, Josh Rosen sucks, he was never good, and he doesn’t deserve a job. In camp 2, Josh Rosen has been royally screwed over in ways that would damage any career, and he needs to be given a fair chance. The thing is…both of these camps are right. This isn’t an either or situation, and we should probably stop treating it as such. Josh Rosen sucks, but he’s been subject to a number of situations that have put him in positions very few QBs would be able to succeed in.

“Rosen Sucks” is a pretty straightforward argument so lets start there. He got playing time in both Arizona and Miami. We can’t say we didn’t see him play, that he didn’t at the very least get multiple games each year to show something. He never really did anything with his chances. His best moment as a pro is probably his comeback win against the 9ers as a Cardinal. He was even worse as a Dolphin and barely lasted 3 games as the starter. He never looked good, even in his wins. A good QB can still look like a good QB on a garbage team, even if it is a struggle for them to succeed. His throws were off, his decision making wasn’t great, he had no mobility, and he was uninspiring. I don’t know how anyone can look at what Rosen has done on the field and think he deserves a starting gig anymore.

But the people who shit on him just really refuse to acknowledge that he has been absolutely fucked by a lot of things out of his control, and none of these things were going to work in his favor and have largely tanked what could have been a promising young career if he had simply found a more stable situation. In Arizona, he wasn’t the starter, he sat behind Sam Bradford for a few weeks on what turned out to be the worst team in the league. He had no protection. No defense. Only an old Larry to throw at. He was stuck executing plays called by notorious toe scab Mike McCoy. All this was led by arguably the worst coach in the league. Steve Wilks was absolute trash at HC, and when he was fired after one season I don’t think you would have found many people who were particularly upset about it. The only criticism of his firing was related to how he was one of 5 black coaches to get fired that season in an ongoing discussion about the difficulties minority coaches face. That’s a big discussion for another post though, so let’s not get into it now. The point is, the team Rosen was tasked with leading was a dysfunctional rebuilding disaster. That’s a tall order for anyone who isn’t a unique talent.

Wilks was replaced by the hot new Kingsbury, who danced around whether or not he even wanted Rosen, and it turned out he didn’t. I still don’t know why the Cards didn’t just trade him before the draft when his value was higher, it isn’t like the Cards had to risk someone jumping them in the draft. Kyler Murray, who people love to point out has done far more with the Cardinals than Rosen did, also happened to get drafted to a team that had a coach specifically building a team and system around his talents. Kyler still has an uphill battle to climb, but he’s actually set up in a way Rosen never was.

The Dolphins picked up Rosen, and then all of a sudden Rosen was once again stuck on the worst team in the league (to start the year). The Dolphins appeared to be openly tanking, trading away bright young stars for no reason, committed to a hole. Rosen had even less to work with in Miami then he did in Arizona. Haters will point out that Fitzpatrick won them some games late in the season, and conveniently ignore that Fitz was actually worse than Rosen before he was benched for Rosen in the first place. The Dolphins found an identity late, and a lot of it is because Ryan Fitzpatrick is a master of garbage time football, and has enough experience to make something happen in a situation like this as opposed to a second year player with little experience learning his second playbook. The Dolphins then did the same thing the Cardinals did, and draft a better prospect and kick Rosen to the curb. I don’t blame the Dolphins or Cardinals for their draft choices, I think Kyler and Tua are better and will do well.

Now he’s stuck on the TB practice squad but honestly I think he deserves more than that. I don’t think Rosen deserves a starting gig anywhere, he hasn’t shown enough for that, but I see no reason why he can’t be a backup or 3rd stringer somewhere. He’s still young, his potential is still there, and if he gets a bit more time to absorb the game in a more stable spot, maybe he can be a journeyman somewhere.

I think Rosen, and his draft class in general, shows the value of being drafted into a good situation. Look at the rest of the QBs in his class and how things have gone so far.
Baker Mayfield – showed promise as a rookie, but the Browns eternal turmoil has persisted and has looked like ass since his second season.
Sam Darnold – the talent is definitely there, but he was stuck on an abysmal Jets franchise in the midst of a coach on his way out, only to be replaced with Adam Fucking Gase, arguably the worst coach in football. He’s looked mostly awful, but look at what he’s working with.
Josh Allen – Panned before the draft, but he’s gone to a good situation with a good coach on a team with a great defense, and hasn’t been asked to carry the team. As such, he’s been okay despite his obvious limitations.
Lamar Jackson – Undervalued, fell to a good team with a great coach who actually understands how to use him, and now he’s a star. Imagine Lamar on the Browns, or Giants, or Jets. He might still be good, but I doubt he’s leading any of those teams to a #1 seed while winning MVP.

I don’t know what the future holds for Josh, but I do genuinely hope he gets a chance to stick around for a while, at least as a backup. It’s tough to have your career derailed by things you can’t control. There is only so much he could do, even if he could be better.