Arizona Cardinals backup QB, John Skelton, smiles as he prepares to face Philidelphia Eagles.
I like John Skelton.
This is pretty much the way I start most articles about him, and this one will be no exception. I think that, given time, Skelton has all of the skills to develop into a good, dependable, NFL quarterback. He is not elite, and he probably never will be, but that's okay. As we have all seen with the Indianapolis Colts, an elite QB is no substitute for an all-around solid team.
Given how much I like the kid, it has hurt me that, in my last few articles, I have had to argue that Skelton should not be given the nod instead of Kevin Kolb.
See, I also like Kolb, but was never sure it was the best call to bring him in in the first place. I have always felt Skelton looked like the quarterback of the future, and Arizona should have brought in a veteran for a few seasons to mentor him, and hand him the reigns eventually.
So when the Cardinals finally settled on Kolb, it was bittersweet. One of my friends is a big Philly fan, and had raved about Kolb. Since he was my backup QB in fantasy, I had watched Kolb a little at the Eagles, and liked what I saw on those few occasions he played.
I believed that, while perhaps not the best long-term strategy, Kolb appeared the best man available at the time, and, while I was sad that we were never likely to see what Skelton would develop into, I was happy that the Cardinals had our QB, not only of the future, but also of the present.
The problem for Cardinals fans, however, is that Kolb has not shown that he has the ability to lead the team to victory yet. Like Skelton, he appears to be a long-term project, not a short-term solution, but unlike Skelton, he is a very expensive project.
I had previously argued that since they were already paying Kolb the big bucks for this season, the Cardinals should use the rest of the season to either allow him the time to develop into a sure starter for next season, or else to be absolutely convinced that he was not the man for the job when they traded or cut him.
Given how much the team gave up to get him, I believed that it was not worth paying Kolb's multi-million dollar salary for him to be a backup, and that he should at least be given the chance to earn some of that pay check in the Cardinals' remaining games of the season.
On paper, I still agree with my initial assessment. On paper, I still believe that the Cardinals must have seen something in Kolb which the rest of us have not yet seen, and he should be given the chance to showcase that. On paper, I still believe that the season is effectively over, and that the Cardinals need to take the time to focus on who should start next season.
I still believe that the Cardinals must find out whether Kolb is the guy, or that money should be better spent shoring up other parts of the Cardinals team which appear, frankly, lacking. On paper, I still believe that the only way we can do that, and know for sure, is if Kolb is given the chance to prove himself.
But that's the problem. Football, as they say, is not played on paper, but on the gridiron.
When push comes to shove, as much as I know that the playoffs are out of reach, that wins only take us further away from an important early draft pick, I just don't care.
I want the Cardinals to win, right now, and Skelton has led the Cardinals to back-to-back wins. What's more, those two wins include one away from home, on the east coast, a place where the Cardinals haven't won in longer than I care to think about.
Do you believe in John Skelton?
Football is about passion and emotion. It's a game where fans, as much as players, put our emotions on the line, and where we invest our time, effort, money, blood, sweat and tears...oh, so many tears...into supporting our team. Players may put their bodies on the line, but we, the fans, put something equally important at stake when we choose to follow a team...our hearts.
Dear NFL Football. Do you know what love is?
And as much as my head says that Kolb, not Skelton, should start the rest of the season, my heart couldn't disagree more.
My heart wants the Cardinals to win, and my heart tells me that Skelton, not Kolb, is the one who is giving us those things right now.
My head will keep telling me that Skelton didn't really beat the Eagles, that they beat themselves, but my heart says Skelton has started for two games, and the Cardinals have won those two games.
My head will tell me that Skelton threw two picks against a suspect Eagles defense, that could, and perhaps should, have been four or more and completed only a hair more than 50% of his passes, but my heart will ignore that and say, 315 yards, three touchdowns.
My head will tell me that only Larry Fitzgerald's fantastic awareness, and his ability to turn not one, but two tipped balls—which should have been picks—into spectacular catches for huge gains and, in one case, a touchdown, kept the Cardinals in the game. And then my heart chimes in and says, Fitz, a player whom I respect and admire above all others, was decidedly average with Kolb under center, and under Skelton, is once more a superstar.
My head will tell me that each win actually takes us a little further away from drafting the top left tackle in next years draft, something we absolutely need to address, but my heart will still cause my cheers to wake my sleeping daughter every time the Cardinals score a touchdown to win the game.
Football is a constant battle between heart and head, but in the end, at least for fans, heart must always win out.
The reality is, that there is likely no real QB controversy in Arizona. The reality is that these few words are unlikely to cause anyone in the Cardinals organization to change their mind and do anything differently from what they already have planned. But I am not a coach, not a Cardinals staffer. Here and now, I am not even a writer, I am a fan, and as a fan—fickle though we may be—I've got something to say.
So here I am, eating my own words. Here I am, silencing my common sense. Here I am, taking back what I said before.
Skelton is winning for the Cardinals. Skelton is leading the Cardinals to victory, and Skelton, not Kolb, should be given the chance to close out the season and earn his place as starter in 2012.
I like Skelton; I always have. I've always believed that given time, he has what it takes to develop into a starter in the NFL. That time is now. It's time for Skelton to be given that chance.