John Skelton, a fifth-round draft pick of the Arizona Cardinals, started his first game Sunday against the Denver Broncos. His numbers weren’t stellar by any stretch (15-37, 146 yards, 0 TD’s, 0 INT’s), but for rabid Cardinals fans watching the inept Derek Anderson and Max Hall all year, it must have seemed like an All-Pro performance.
Is he the quarterback of the future for the Arizona Cardinals?
The short answer is it’s still too early to tell, but there were some uplifting signs.
Most importantly, he didn’t take himself out of contention the way Anderson and Hall clearly did. What Skelton did was make fans and coaches want to see more of him. For a rookie starting his first game, that’s all you can ask for.
One thing everyone seems to agree on is that he looked incredibly poised behind center. Larry Fitzgerald had this to say about Skelton, “John is, like, emotionless. Nothing flusters him, and that’s a great quality to have in a quarterback.”
On the Cardinals first drive, Fitzgerald and Wright both dropped passes. Nine of Skelton’s incompletions were attributed to outright drops and another five were from throwing the ball away when no one was open. Toward the end of the first half, Center Lyle Sendlein had a thumb injury and fumbled twice while trying to hike the ball. Skelton’s poise held throughout.
It also didn’t go unnoticed that Skelton didn’t turn the ball over. Amazingly, he wasn’t even sacked Sunday. For an offensive line that seems to regularly give up three-plus sacks per game, that is extraordinary. He also has a quick release, evidenced by how he stood in there and took several big-time hits while still getting the ball out.
What Cardinals fan doesn’t remember Anderson regularly falling down of his own accord while hearing footsteps?
Skelton showed athleticism we didn’t know he possessed. For a guy his size, standing at 6’6 and weighing 245, he made several nice runs and one epic play where he should have been sacked, but was able to balance himself with one arm while escaping and running for a first down.
He used that size to make a crushing block to free up an end-around play and lowered his shoulder and plowed the defender out of bounds on another.
He moved very well in the pocket and his footwork didn’t appear nearly as bad as coach Whisenhunt made it out to be. On several occasions he was able to dip his shoulder and slide inside the pocket to avoid defenders, all while maintaining squared hips and while keeping his eyes downfield.
Yes, it’s still too early to tell if he deserves a chance to start next year or if the Cardinals need to look for a quarterback in the draft.
But for his first start, if you’re an Arizona Cardinals fan, there isn’t much more you could have asked for. Derek Anderson has hit his ceiling, he is what he is. Who knows what John Skelton’s ceiling is? No matter what happens this offseason, I expect Derek Anderson and Max Hall to be gone next year. Clearly Whisenhunt will bring in an experienced backup regardless.
Will John Skelton be part of that rotation or the starter?
We have three games left to find out.