Darnold, Rosen, Allen … rookie QBs present unique challenge to Lions

Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Football

The Lions' first run-in with a rookie quarterback didn't go so well. With any luck, their next two meetings will be much better.

The Lions face the second of three rookie signal callers on their schedule Sunday when they visit Josh Rosen and the Arizona Cardinals.

They lost to Sam Darnold and the New York Jets in Week 1, when Darnold threw for 198 yards and two touchdowns. And next week, the Lions visit Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills.

Rosen was the 10th pick in April's NFL draft, Darnold went third and Allen seventh. The Lions also faced No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield in the preseason.

"I tell you guys all the time, me personally, I do not like playing rookie quarterbacks," Lions safety Glover Quin said. "A lot of them are programmed. They do what their coaches tell them and they don't take a lot of chances, to an extent. Sometimes the better, more experienced guys feel very confident in who they are as players and feel like they can make those throws and they take more chances and you have more opportunities to make plays. And a lot of times young guys, they don't really take those chances."

Rosen replaced Sam Bradford as Cardinals starter in Week 4 and has led Arizona (3-9) to all three of its victories.

He's completing 54.2 percent of his passes, 31st among the league's 32 current starting quarterbacks, and has 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on the season.

"He's doing a good job," Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni said. "Against Green Bay (last week), he had one throw there at the end of the game that was kind of across his body and he probably won't make that throw again for a long time. But other than that one play, I thought he just did a very, very good job of getting the key guys the ball and getting them in the right play. And just did an excellent job of managing the game."

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The Cardinals have kept the training wheels on Rosen this year as they've battled personnel issues on offense. They placed leading receiver Christian Kirk (foot) on injured reserve this week, start three rookies on their offensive line and fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy at midseason.

The Lions have one of the lowest blitz rates in the NFL, and aren't likely to dramatically alter their gameplan Sunday. But Pasqualoni said it's important they do their best to change up their looks against the inexperienced Rosen.

"I think that at this point in the season, if it's a rookie and he's still playing, he has nearly -- when you stop and consider the number of preseason games he's had, the number of regular season games he's had, he's had darn near almost a full season under his belt," Pasqualoni said. "So, if he's still playing at this point in the season, he's probably doing a pretty good job."

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