Josh Rosen is getting no help from his supporting cast
Josh Rosen is getting less help from his supporting cast that any quarterback in the country. In fact, no quarterback in the country is getting pressured more or having more passes dropped than Josh Rosen.
In defense of the UCLA offense, it must be noted that two games is a small sample size, especially when one game was against one of the better pass rushes in the country. However, the performances up to this point from the UCLA offense should be cause for alarm and call for closer examination. Let’s take a look:
Protection issues leading to too much pressure
Josh Rosen has been pressured more frequently than any FBS quarterback thus far. Rosen has faced pressure on 40.2 percent of his drop backs in 2016 — the highest percentage for any FBS quarterback. Obviously a number of pressures are going to occur just because a blocker was beaten by the man across from him, which happened frequently against Texas A&M when Aggies defensive end Myles Garrett had one sack, three hits and seven hurries alone. Some pressures have come from poor technique such as a running back just throwing a soft shoulder into a rusher or a overset by a tackle.
However, a lot of the pressures on Rosen have come from mistakes picking up blitzes or stunts where the offensive players don’t communicate effectively to pick it up and free rushers head toward Rosen. The intricacies of blitz pick-up requires a wealth of communication and repetition to master, so the mistakes could just be a lingering effect of installing a new offense and could clean up quickly.
Receivers are dropping too many passes
Rosen’s receivers also need to do a better job of executing their assignments. When Rosen does manage to get the pass off, they have been frequently dropped. UCLA receivers have dropped 10 passes so far in 2016 — the most of any team in FBS.
These haven’t been mostly harmless drops like a wide receiver screen that slips through a receiver’s hands on 1st and 10. These drops have been costly, as one lead to a deflection and red-zone interception, and more than one pass destined for a touchdown has been dropped — including a potential game-tying overtime touchdown against Texas A&M.
Rosen needs to clean up his deep ball accuracy
Rosen is also to blame for the Bruins’ lack of execution, as he has put badly-placed passes on wide receivers that cost the team yards and points. Rosen is being asked to do different things in the Bruins’ offense this year and the new scheme was supposed to deliver big play-action passes downfield. However, the Bruins have lacked the consistent execution to make this a reality thus far.
Rosen’s 36.4 adjusted completion percentage on deep throws (targeted 20+ yards downfield) ranks No. 70 among FBS quarterbacks. Rosen has only completed 3 of 11 passes targeted beyond 20 yards. In both games thus far Rosen has over thrown and under thrown deep passes that potentially cost the Bruins points.
On the flip-side Rosen has also shown the ability to make tight seam passes into small windows. He plays with a confident and aggressive style and that combined with his touch and velocity leads to big plays. One one drive Rosen overthrow a deep route that could have potentially led to a touchdown and a few plays later Rosen threw a beautiful post pass for a touchdown, placing the ball in a window between a cornerback and a safety, so Rosen has the talent to make up for his mistakes.
The Bruins run game is the focal point of their new offensive scheme and that aspect of the offense looks solid. The running backs Soso Jamambo and Bolu Olorunfunmi have made plays with the ball and the offensive line has done a much better job run blocking than pass blocking.
The bottom lie is that no other quarterback is doing so much with so little production around him. On the bright side for UCLA, they have enough talented players and coaches to fix all of their issues, but improvement in offensive execution must be made if the Bruins are going to keep Rosen healthy and contend for the Pac-12 South.