Arizona Cardinals: Should Kevin Kolb or John Skelton Start in Week 1?

Will ProtheroeContributor IIIApril 29, 2012

FLAGSTAFF, AZ - AUGUST 04:  Quarterbacks Kevin Kolb #4 and John Skelton #19 of the Arizona Cardinals drop back to pass during the team training camp at Northern Arizona University on August 4, 2011 in Flagstaff, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

One of the biggest quarterback battles this offseason will come in Arizona, where Ken Whisenhunt will have to choose whether Kevin Kolb or John Skelton will be throwing to Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd.

Whisenhunt has stated that there will be "fair competition" between Kolb and Skelton for the starting position

The head coach told KTAR-AM in Phoenix in February,

"Both guys are going to get opportunities because John certainly deserves it from the way that he played over the back half of the season and Kevin certainly deserves it from the reason that we went out, got him, and brought him in,"

With the addition of Floyd to the Cardinals roster, the team have gained a solid route runner who might not have top-level pace, but has great hands and will give the quarterback another option to Fitzgerald.

With a first-round pick spent on a receiver, the decision of whether to play Kolb or Skelton becomes even more important.

Kolb's form last season has made him potentially one of the best-paid flops in Cardinals history. However, after giving him $21 million guaranteed last year, have the Cardinals invested too much in Kolb to afford to have him warming the bench?

Kolb was limited to just nine games due to injury, and threw nine touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Who would Larry Fitzgerald rather have throwing to him?
Who would Larry Fitzgerald rather have throwing to him?Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The fact that Kolb only played nine games means that if he can stay healthy, he could have a good comeback season.

Whisenhunt has backed this position,

We didn't see a lot of Kevin this year, because of the injuries. In the snapshots of time we did see him, we were excited with what we saw.

Last year Kolb often looked panicked when his first read wasn't available, but after a full pre-season he may feel more comfortable and composed in the pocket this year.

While the Cardinals have a lot invested in Kolb, he was 3-6 last year, while Skelton was 5-2 in 2011.

The team got the results with Skelton under center last season, so can they afford to leave him out?

Whisenhunt has conceded that Skelton's play last year makes it a tough decision to leave him out.

I think John's earned the right to be given consideration for the position -- just because of what he did and his record and the way he played.

Skelton's play last season hinged on the fact that he relied on throwing the ball to Fitzgerald, and there's nothing wrong with that.

When you have a top wide receiver like Fitzgerald, it makes sense to utilize them as much as possible.

Skelton gives you a better opportunity to do that.

In the nine games that Kolb started, Fitzgerald had 38 receptions for 732 yards with two touchdowns.

Fitzgerald told PFT, "Sometimes he may be reluctant to let the ball go or throw it to me in certain situations because a lot of times I’m not blatantly open."

With Skelton throwing him the ball, Fitzgerald is definitely happier. "John has been here a year longer and he knows kinda how to get the ball to me in terms of just giving me an opportunity even when it doesn’t look good,” he said.

Arizona's offensive line still leaves a lot to be desired, and based on last year, Skelton reacts to pressure better than Kolb.

He's more elusive than Kolb is, but he has a tendency to throw some wild passes, which resulted in him throwing 14 picks in seven games last year.

When it comes down to it, the Cardinals need to play the quarterback who has the best chance of winning them games and making it to the playoffs.

At this point Skelton is the man who looks more likely to do that.

So despite the fact that the club has invested a fortune in Kolb, the Cardinals have to focus on wins and start with Skelton.

Who do you want to see starting for the Cardinals next season? Comment below.