Not that this will come as a surprise to anyone, as this isn't exactly a controversial pick, but I have decided to endorse John Skelton for the starting quarterback job for the Arizona Cardinals.
I, along with many others and maybe even the Cardinals coaching staff at this point, have seen enough to make a decision with relative confidence.
Diagnosing Kevin Kolb
Whether you think so or not, Kevin Kolb has talent. He's made some good, accurate throws and once in a while his ability to scramble has resulted in him being able to make a play or two. I particularly liked his back-shoulder throws against the Kansas City Chiefs.
I can certainly see why the coaching staff, and yes, even Larry Fitzgerald at one point, had this guy pegged as the guy they wanted.
That said, all the brief film and private workouts weren't able to give an indication of the biggest downside to Kolb: he simply doesn't have what it takes upstairs.
As I've watched Kolb, I've noticed that anytime there is a hint of pressure he takes is eyes off the receivers and bounces outside the pocket. His inability to keep is eyes down field or look for the hot read was most pronounced Friday against the Oakland Raiders, where he held the ball instead of hitting the running back who was wide open out of the backfield with space to run.
Unfortunately, this happens more often than not with Kolb, and it appears as though the offense has lost confidence in him.
Likewise, Kolb appears to have lost confidence in himself. Even in situations where he makes the right read, he seems hesitant to make the throw. For an offense with shaky pass protection, you can't afford to have those kinds of traits behind center.
The case for John Skelton
John Skelton continues to be the guy who just simply gets it done.
Skelton certainly will not be on anyone's fantasy football wish list, but in pressure situations he's shown the ability to come through and make plays when he has to.
It's been pointed out by many people that the offensive line seems to block better for Skelton than they do Kolb. I can point out two reasons why this is quite possible or even likely. One is the confidence factor—if Kolb's confidence or the confidence of the offense in Kolb is an issue, there's no question that this will reflect in how the offense carries itself play-in and play-out. Two, if you're the one doing the blocking, it stands to reason it's easier to block for someone when you know where they'll be.
Basically, you know Skelton will step up and stay in the pocket.
Where I'd like to see Skelton improve this year is one: his accuracy; and two: I've noticed he has a tendency to lock in on receivers at times. Most notably in Friday's game against the Raiders, Skelton made a throw to Rob Housler to get the Cards inside the 10-yard line. It was a great throw by Skelton, but at the same time he locked onto Housler from the second the ball was snapped.
If Skelton had gone through his progressions, he would've seen the back that had slipped out five yards upfield unnoticed with one guy between him and the end zone. This is an issue that is easily coachable and will likely improve with reps.
Look, I think pretty highly of John Skelton.
I've thought highly of him since his rookie year when he led a late comeback drive against the Dallas Cowboys on Christmas night. All that said, I'm not looking for Skelton to light everybody up this year; that's very unlikely to happen.
What I am looking for is steady improvement.
I want to see his completion percentage inch above 60 percent this year. I'd be happy with 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. That would be good and reasonable progress. If the defense can play to expectations, those numbers might just be enough to get the Cards to a 9-7 record and give them a reasonable shot at the playoffs.
It's very likely that Kevin Kolb won't be back in a Cardinals uniform next year. Kolb is scheduled to make around $9 million in 2013 and the Cards can cut him this offseason while owing him no more guaranteed money.
Who knows, perhaps something happens this season where Kolb gets one last chance.
Ryan Lindley, I'm sorry to say, is not ready to be a starter, and Kolb still makes a good backup. All that aside though, I have to say that in 2012, this team should and likely now does belong to John Skelton.
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