Kevin Kolb vs. John Skelton: Latest News and Updates on Cardinals QB Battle

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2012

FLAGSTAFF, AZ - AUGUST 04:  Quarterbacks Kevin Kolb #4 and John Skelton #19 of the Arizona Cardinals drop back to pass during the team training camp at Northern Arizona University on August 4, 2011 in Flagstaff, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

We're less than two weeks from the start of the NFL regular season, and the Arizona Cardinals have yet to choose between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton as the Week 1 starting quarterback.

That makes Ken Whisenhunt the only head coach in the entire league yet to make a decision, leaving his team without an unquestioned leader behind center.

What's more, neither quarterback will be suiting up for Arizona's last preseason game against the Denver Broncos on Thursday (via Sports Illustrated). That leaves both Cardinals fans and the media perplexed as to whether Kolb, who is in the second year of a five-year, $64 million contract, or Skelton, a former fifth-round pick out of Fordham, will take center when the team opens on Sept. 9.

With that in mind, here is a look at media members are saying, what each quarterback can bring to the table and a prediction for who will win the position battle.

What They're Saying

UPDATE: Friday, Aug. 31 at 5:05 p.m. EDT by Tyler Conway

As first reported by NFL reporter and radio host Adam Caplan, the Cardinals will go with Skelton Week 1 against the Seahawks

John Skelton will start at QB for the Cardinals at least in wk. 1, per source.

— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) August 31, 2012

Not long after Caplan's original report, AZCentral/Sporting News Cardinals beat reporter Kent Somers corroborated the information. 

It's official. John Skelton will start against Seattle. #AZCards

— Kent Somers (@kentsomers) August 31, 2012

For the Cardinals, more than anything this should give the team peace of mind. A quarterback controversy puts the whole team in a state of uncertainty and now the offense at least knows who they will be looking at in the huddle. 

Nevertheless, with Kolb's fat contract sitting on the bench, just don't be surprised if there's a quick hook for the third-year quarterback if he struggles. 

------End of Update------

UPDATE: Thursday, Aug. 30 at 2:50 p.m. EDT by Tyler Conway

According to the Sporting News' Kent Somers, the long-awaited decision between Kolb and Skelton will go down Friday, a day after the Cardinals finish their preseason against the Denver Broncos.

Via the Sporting News

The suspense over naming a starting quarterback is likely to end Friday, the day after the end of the preseason. Rookie Ryan Lindley started the final exhibition game, but he’s not in the mix. Ken Whisenhunt will choose between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton, and it’s easy to see Whisenhunt going either way.

Kolb has reportedly been the better quarterback in practices, while it's unquestioned that Skelton has brought more to the table in the preseason games so far. 

Nevertheless, no matter which quarterback Arizona's coaching staff chooses, at least the mystery for players and fans will be solved. 

------End of Update------

UPDATE: Wednesday, Aug. 29 at 3:29 p.m. EDT by Tyler Conway

Going off a report by's Kent Somers that Kolb has looked better in practice, writer Gregg Rosenthal has reported that the 28-year-old has taken a slight clubhouse lead for the starting job.

Though, when editorializing, Rosenthal seems to disagree with the leaderboard.


Overall, Kolb has reportedly outplayed Skelton in practice. Skelton has been better in the games. They don't keep score in practice, so this shouldn't be that difficult to decide.

------End of Update------

Sometimes a coach makes a choice in position battles and the entire team knows who won, but the coach decides to shade the media from his decision.

According to Kolb, this isn't one of those cases.

Via Sports Illustrated:

"I don't expect anything. I just roll with the punches," Kolb said. "Head coaches always see a little more than what we do, and I know he's got a plan."

Does Kolb really believe Whisenhunt hasn't made a decision?

"That's what he's telling us," Kolb said. "As a player you get used to doing that. You get used to just going to practice every time and not worrying about all the distractions and keep working."

Though Whisenhunt isn't telling his players or the media anything, Skelton was reportedly the favorite heading into the team's third preseason game against the Oakland Raiders on Aug. 17.

Arizona plans to start QB Kevin Kolb against Oakland on Friday, however John Skelton is now considered the favorite to win starting QB job.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 14, 2012

With the Cardinals coach now being coy through the media, you have to wonder whether that's changed in light of Kolb's solid performance against the Raiders.

What Kevin Kolb Offers

In the short-term, Kolb offers relative safety for the Cardinals. Of the two quarterbacks competing for the job, the 28-year-old has a longer track record and more consistency than Skelton.

Even while struggling last season, Kolb put up 1,955 yards and nine touchdowns against eight interceptions. That was good enough for an 81.1 quarterback rating, far exceeding the 68.9 rating put up by Skelton in his eight games behind center.

Kolb is also the far more mobile quarterback of the two. Though continuity should help the Cardinals offensive line this season, the team was still middling in terms of pass protection last season. Its Adjusted Sack Rate (via Football Outsiders) of 6.4 percent tied with the Green Bay Packers for 15th in the NFL last season, and Kolb's mobility should help that rate over the course of the season.

Furthering the case for Whisenhunt to choose Kolb are the advanced metrics gathered by the folks at Football Outsiders. According to the site's DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) metric, which values quarterbacks against the replacement level, Kolb ranked as the 35th-best quarterback in the NFL last season.

On the other hand, Skelton came in seven spots behind Kolb at No. 42. 

What John Skelton Offers

If Whisenhunt wants to bring more explosion to an offense that ranked 17th in yards-per-play last season, Skelton is that man.

Listed at 6'6" and 244 pounds, Skelton is a big, lumbering quarterback with a howitzer of a right arm. The three-year veteran's ability to stretch the ball down field can open up running lanes for the two-headed backfield of Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams and works well with Arizona's stable of receivers.

It also became apparent last season that superstar wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has bigger games with Skelton as his quarterback. Though the overall numbers are relatively similar, Fitzgerald had four contests with more than 100 yards receiving with Skelton as his primary signal-caller, three of which he want for 140-plus.

On the other hand, Fitz had just two 100-plus yard games with Kolb starting.

There is also the most important factor of all: Skelton went 6-2 in games as the primary quarterback,  while Kolb went 2-6.


For reasons of both talent and salary, bet on the Cardinals going with Kolb out of the gate.

While Kolb went 2-6 last season, he played the lion's share of Arizona's contests against elite teams and put up better overall numbers regardless. He's a steadier signal-caller who is far less likely to throw the Cardinals out of a game than Skelton, who oftentimes tries to throw balls into minuscule windows.

But don't expect this situation to settle itself quietly. No matter which quarterback Whisenhunt chooses Week 1, that player will likely have the shortest leash in all of football.


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