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John Skelton won, and as I predicted, in spite of a below average performance, fans and speculators are now calling for him to be given the starters position ahead of Kevin Kolb.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt added fuel to the fire. “He was poised,” Whisenhunt was quoted as saying “I think that was the most important thing today. He’ll get even better with more time.”
While hardly guaranteeing future starts for Skelton, the implication was clear. The Cardinals are not ruling him out as their future starter, potentially as early as this week, if Kolb is not available. Although Whisenhunt has all but confirmed that Kolb will not back up Skelton if fit, this appeared on the Cards for a while.
I like Skelton a lot, and would have preferred if the Cardinals had brought in an older QB than Kolb to mentor him for a year or so and allow him to develop. However, the Cardinals gave up a second round pick, and the talented corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in order to get Kevin Kolb, and they cannot, and should not give up on him yet, especially on the basis of Skelton's performance against the Rams.
There was quite a lot which Skelton did well. He threw a nice TD pass to Fitzgerald. He managed not to throw any picks. He got the ball out of his hands, and completed some nice check-down passes rather than waiting for plays to develop. Most of all, however, he stood tall in the pocket and ran only when he could see a lane, rather than at the slightest indication of pressure. When he did run, he ran for big gains, but when he set his feet and picked his target, he generally threw the ball pretty well.
When you put it like that, it's hard to see why he isn't already starter in stead of Kolb.
But he also gave up two safeties on back-to-back plays, was dropped behind the line three times for a loss of 30 yards total, and fumbled the ball for a huge loss on one of those sacks. Although he completed 57 percent of his passes, for 222 yards, respectable, but hardly staggering numbers, the vast majority of those completions came on a single touchdown drive.
Although he looked on a par with Sam Bradford, a player picked 154 picks ahead of him, who has played many more games than him, importantly, he looked, overall, no better than Kolb has been to this point in the season.
If the Cardinals had not given up so much for Kolb, my suggestion would be to start Skelton, and give him chance to see how he develops, but I have to believe that the Cardinals scouts and coaches had seen something in Kevin Kolb which we, the fans, have yet to see.
The Cardinals were clear. Kolb is not a project, he is the real deal, here and now. They gave up as much as they did for him because they believed that he could lead them to victory this season. I have to believe that Kolb has still not shown us his best, that the first half against the Ravens was not a fluke, and the second half fell apart because of his injury, not because he can't do it.
So while I maintain that Skelton has the skill to become the Cardinals starter, right now, I'm hoping he won't be given that chance. And I hate myself for saying that. I want Skelton to succeed. I want him to be the real deal. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy. But I have to hope that there is something about Kolb, something special that the other players and coaches know he can do that just hasn't quite materialised yet.
I have to hope, that against his former team Kolb can pull off something special, and prove to the coaches, his teammates, and the fans why the Cardinals paid the big bucks for him.
I have to hope, and choose to believe, that the excuses made about Kolb are legitimate, and that he is struggling because of other factors which he eventually can, and will, overcome.
If Kolb cannot do it, I have faith that Skelton eventually will, but if that is the case, Cardinals fans, be warned. On the basis of his last performance, it's going to be a few more long years before we see John Skelton winning on a regular basis, and leading our team to Super Bowl victory.