Kevin Kolb: Can He Salvage His First Season with the Arizona Cardinals?

Elyssa GutbrodContributor IOctober 22, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 02:  Quarterback Kevin Kolb #4 of the Arizona Cardinals prepares to snap the football during the NFL game against the New York Giants at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 2, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Giants defeated the Cardinals 31-27.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Coming into the 2011 season, Arizona Cardinals fans were faced with the prospect of a new quarterback in Kevin Kolb.

Although some greeted the deal that brought Kolb to the desert with optimism, there was an underlying current of trepidation. After all, Kolb had done little to prove himself during his four years as a backup quarterback with the Philadelphia Eagles, yet the Cardinals paid dearly to bring him in.

Six games into the season, Kolb has done little to endear himself to the Cardinals fan base—or to his teammates for that matter.

He’s had nine turnovers compared to five touchdowns, resulting in more points for the other team than his own. His pass completion percentage is just 58.7.

Given those numbers, it should come as no surprise that Kolb’s average quarterback rating is just 77.2, 28th in the league.

To put that rating into perspective, every single non-rookie quarterback with a lower quarterback rating has either been benched or has suffered a series of legitimate injuries that help make sense of such poor numbers.

His play thus far for the Cardinals has been nothing short of terrible.

Looking at Kolb’s past, though, no one should be surprised that he has put up such poor numbers. The highest average passer rating of his career is 88.9 over five games in 2009.

His second highest average passer rating in a season to date? The 2011 season with the Arizona Cardinals.

Expecting Kolb to come into Arizona and somehow transform into a starting-caliber quarterback was a ridiculous fantasy.

It’s not like he’s had a whole lot of help in his first season as a starter. He plays behind a porous offensive line, and he throws to a mediocre receiving corps (wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald excepted).

Really, the only thing Kolb has had going for him has been Beanie Wells stepping up to turn the Cardinals running game into a legitimate threat.

With a 1-4 record and their bye week in the rear-view mirror, it is time for Kevin Kolb and the Arizona Cardinals to figure things out. The whole team needs to get back to the basics of fielding a clean passing game to compliment their surprisingly potent running game.  

If that means accepting 2011 as a lost cause and starting the process of building a stronger team for 2012, then so be it.

Improvements need to happen on both sides of the ball offensively; Kolb needs to exercise better judgment in his throws, and his wide receivers need to keep up their end of the bargain by hanging on to balls that should be caught and working harder for yards after the catch.

The offensive line either needs to figure out how to give Kolb the protection he needs, or Ken Whisenhunt needs to get it through his head that this point of weakness needs to be addressed.

Most importantly, Whisenhunt has got to get over his love affair with tackle Levi Brown. Brown has demonstrated time and again that he cannot protect Kolb’s blindside. He needs to be benched and replaced by veteran tackle D'Anthony Batiste.

If those adjustments—most of them deceptively simple to accomplish—can happen, then perhaps Kevin Kolb can turn his sputtering season around and help put some points on the board for his team.

Better protection and better hands at wide receiver could go a long way towards helping Kolb become the quarterback he was brought in to be. There’s still a chance for him to turn this season around, or at least to show signs of better things to come in 2012.