Heading into the Arizona Cardinals' third preseason game with the Tennessee Titans it appeared that the starting quarterback job was John Skelton's to lose, but after one lousy performance and a slightly less lousy performance the waters are as muddy as ever.
Head coach Ken Whisenhunt admitted as much in an interview with Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic Thursday night after the team's loss, confirming that the battle under center in the desert may well right back where it started.
Whisenhunt admitted that his quarterback situation seems to get murkier instead of clearer. "But you know, that's the way it goes sometimes," Whisenhunt said. "Kevin did some good things but we can't turn the ball over, that's what is disturbing."
Kevin Kolb entered the game desperately needed a strong showing in this game to get him back in the race, and the quarterback who the Cardinals inked to a $63 million contract last year (every time I write that my head hurts) got one...sort of.
Kolb had by far his best outing of the exhibition season, completing 17-of-22 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown after two disastrous preseason starts. However, Kolb also threw a pair of ill-advised interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown on the first possession of the second half that drew the ire of Whisenhunt.
"It numbs you," Whisenhunt said of Kolb's second interception. "You've worked so hard to get back into it. At halftime, we said, 'We get the ball back. If we go out and score the game is tied.' And the next thing you know, one play, we're down 13 points. I'm really proud of our guys for fighting back from that point. That's a big deal on the road."
Skelton, however, squandered his shot to tighten his grip on the starting gig, struggling through a 4-of-10 night that included an interception of his own.
It's also worth noting that the blame for the struggles of the Cardinals quarterbacks can't be laid completely at their feet. No team in the National Football League has surrendered more sacks in the preseason than the Redbirds, and it's hard for any quarterback to maneuver the offense down the field from his back.
With that said, that's the biggest reason why John Skelton needs to be the starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals. With Levi Brown on the shelf, an Arizona offensive line that was already shaky has gotten even worse, and that's not going to magically change anytime soon.
Simply put, when Kevin Kolb senses pressure he's more apt to start moving his feet like Barney Rubble trying to drive to work than step into the pocket. Kolb may not have liked it when Tommy Kelly of the Oakland Raiders called him "scared" to Bob Baum of the Associated Press earlier this month, but the fact of the matter is Kelly's right. Kolb has a tendency to fold under duress.
"Duress" may well be the word that's most associated with Arizona Cardinals' quarterbacks by the time the 2012 season is over, and with that the case Skelton gives the Cardinals their best chance to win.
Even then, their chances aren't very good.