One less member on Team Kolb
Since the summer of 2011, when I was on the air doing a daily morning show at a Valley radio station, I've been on board with Kevin Kolb taking over the Arizona Cardinals' offense. Of course, the lockout basically turned our show into an every day smorgasbord of Kolb-to-Arizona rumors, and I followed them religiously, buying into the thought that the Eagles backup was the answer for the Cards.
How could I not feel that way? After going from Kurt Warner and 10 wins to Derek Anderson/Max Hall and five wins, the case for Kolb to be the solution for head coach Ken Whisenhunt was an easy one to make. Sure, the sample size was small -- only seven starts -- but in his first two starts in 2009, Kolb threw for 391 and 327 yards, becoming the first NFL quarterback ever to throw for 300- plus in his first two outings. Derek Anderson couldn't do that. Max Hall? No way!
I sat at Kolb's introductory press conference last summer and felt excitement that the Cardinals quarterback position was solidified. Did I have concerns that $63 million was a little too much to give a quarterback with limited starting experience? Yes, but those thoughts were quelled by confidence that Kolb's résumé was limited because of the presence of Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick in front of him on the Philadelphia depth chart. A new location would equal a fresh start and a chance to prove legitimacy, right?
The Kolb era got off to a good start in his first game as a Cardinal when he threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-21 win over the Carolina Panthers. But the rest of Kolb's campaign was marred by injuries and inconsistency. Fans who weren't drinking the Kolb Kool- Aid were quick to point out the fact that the Cardinals were only 3-6 in games that he started.
Never mind that the defense vastly improved over the season's second half when Kolb was on the sidelines and John Skelton was becoming the Cardinals' version of Tim Tebow -- leading Arizona to wins despite less-than-stellar statistics. Never mind that the injuries -- turf toe and a concussion -- were legitimate injuries that would have kept every other NFL starter in street clothes.
The haters were going to hate. "The Cardinals wasted $63 million," they'd say. "Skelton is the man."
I heard the comments and chose to disagree with them. My thought process was simple: 2011 was a wash. Kolb's progress was derailed not only by injury, but by the lockout which prevented OTAs and mini-camp workouts, which are invaluable to a quarterback learning a new system. With a full season, Kolb would be fine.
Then Sunday night happened. Kolb got the start in the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio and did absolutely nothing to grasp control of the much-talked- about quarterback competition. Kolb's first pass of the game was a tardy sideline floater intended for Andre Roberts that was intercepted by New Orleans safety Malcolm Jenkins. On his second possession Kolb was 0-for-2 and the Cardinals went three-and-out.
The third possession actually started with a completion to fullback Anthony Sherman for four yards, but Kolb was pressured by New Orleans defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis who landed on top of the Cardinals quarterback after the ball was thrown. A perfectly legal, seemingly innocuous hit knocked Kolb out of the game with a rib contusion.
And it was at that moment that I took off my Team Kolb jersey.
John Skelton needs to be the starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals in 2012. That's not to say that I believe Skelton is the long-term answer, either. But he has proven he can win football games at this level, he doesn't fade in tight, late-game situations and he's big, strong and durable.
I like Kevin Kolb and when you get right down to it, I feel he is a better quarterback than Skelton. But the difference between the two is so small right now, coach Whisenhunt needs to go with the guy he can rely on to stay on the field.
Skelton is clearly that guy. At least right now.