QB battles are won in games, not practice
Listen to the comments of Coach Whisenhunt. Media: When would you like to see this battle resolved? CKW: Two years ago.
Thursday, Coach Whisenhunt opened his press conference without needing any questions from the media:
"There's been no decision on who will be the starting quarterback."
It was Day 2 of camp.
Usually coaches become antagonistic with the media. The weight of a decision which will probably determine the success or failure of the season -- and possibly a career -- is displaced onto the feeding reporters. The media relations department will start to limit availability. Players begin to choose sides and leak their opinions to the media. Fans begin hearing stories of lacking a presence in the huddle. After four weeks of drama, a quarterback is named.
The 2012 Arizona quarterback battle will not be determined by drama. Coach Whisenhunt has complete confidence in the process determining a QB for him that he gives no sign of stress over the decision itself.
Kolb enters camp as a cerebral quarterback, but needs to prove his toughness. His physical toughness is in question because he's been handed two starting quarterback jobs by two different franchises and failed to secure either due to injury and being outplayed by the backup. Kolb must prove he has the mental toughness to go through his progressions with no fear of the pressure being applied by the defense.
Skelton has the magic. The poise to stand in the pocket and deliver the ball with complete blinders to pressure is Skelton's forte. The no-fear ability to bring the team back from any deficit is not Skelton's problem. The problem is the fact Skelton continually has to bring the team back in the fourth quarter because his decisions led to a scoreboard deficit in the first place. Skelton must learn to read the coverage, trust the play and its progressions, allowing the defense to determine where the ball should go.
These two weaknesses must be fixed for one of the QBs to come out victorious in battle. The only true place for Skelton and Kolb to be judged is by preseason game production. I'm not referring to the stats or outcome of the preseason game. It's about intense film study with knowledge of the play called, assessment of how well everyone else did their job and, finally, answering two questions: did the ball go where it was supposed to when it was supposed to?
Ken Whisenhunt is stress free because he completely believes someone will win this quarterback job. Either Kolb actually having an offseason to learn the offense will allow him to relax in the pocket and deliver the ball on time, or Skelton will learn to take care of the ball through three quarters to save the magic for when it's needed.
Flagstaff, Arizona, will have little to do with who becomes the next starting quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals. The Flagstaff position battles are at CB, RB, WR, TE and special teams. For the QBs, training camp is more like a glorified high school quarterback camp.
The brochure came in the mail for "your son" to be taught by NFL coaches in beautiful Northern Arizona. Both Mr. and Mrs. Kolb and Mr. and Mrs. Skelton signed their sons up for the camp to become better football players for the chance to earn a scholarship. This is all just a warmup here for three exams. The first exam will be a lab with Romeo Crennel as professor in Missouri. Mid-terms will be in Glendale with Mr. Raider, while we have a special Grand Ole Opry-style final in Tennessee with Jerry Gray as the lead instructor who learned defense from a disgraced former defensive professor who has been forced out of football.
The decision on who will be the next starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals will be made in an office in Tempe after watching the lab work in Kansas City, Glendale and Nashville. Coach Whisenhunt is very relaxed right now because Flagstaff simply represents study hall.
The most important month in the entire professional career of Kevin Kolb and John Skelton starts Wednesday, with exams soon to follow.