Five things I learned watching the Cardinals and Titans
Kolb led nine drives against Oakland and Tennessee. Skelton led six. Kolb led two long touchdown drives in the two games. Skelton led one short touchdown drive.
With Kolb getting more opportunities, the focus of the coaching staff was clear. Kolb would have to lose the job before Skelton could win it. This is not whining about "fair fights." It's professional football. The Cardinals have an enormous investment into Kevin Kolb. It's completely understandable that they want to make sure he's a failure before they move on to another QB.
The first pass for Skelton in the Titans game was drawn up for him to prove he should be the starter. He had play-action and a chance to go deep or hit the check down. He tried to make a big play that wasn't there and threw a bad interception.
2) John Skelton should be the starting quarterback.
An evaluation of any quarterback with D.J. Young at the left tackle position is a waste of time. Skelton is much better behind a bad offensive line than Kolb is. The Cardinals have a bad offensive line. Start Skelton.
The QB competition finished in a dead heat. Kolb won Flagstaff and Nashville. Skelton won Canton, Kansas City and Glendale. There are obviously major problems with both quarterbacks. Skelton proved last year he can dig the Cardinals out of the holes he creates. Kolb proved last year he can't dig the Cardinals out of holes he creates.
Skelton's interceptions fall into the category of a young quarterback trying to force a ball where it doesn't go. With more playing time he will mature and understand what is good risk and what is hopeless. He's a cross between Ben Roethlisberger and Brett Favre.
Kolb's interceptions fall into the "What the Hell are You Thinking" category. Some of the picks are high school decisions. By the time you reach the NFL, you should have thrown your last rolling right, feet not set, throw across your body, late into the middle pick. These are inexcusable INTs that aren't going to go away from Kolb's arsenal of ways to throw interceptions.
The coach's main job is to put the 11 men on the field that give the Cardinals the best chance to win: that person is Skelton. However, Skelton has not ripped the job out of Kolb's hands, he's just benefitted from Kolb failing to do the same thing. Since there is no clear-cut winner, you have to go with the younger player. Let Skelton prove whether or not he's the starting QB for the future. Don't go into 2013 with the same unanswered questions about Skelton.
3) D.J. Young is not an NFL level player at this time.
At one point in the first quarter, ESPN's Trent Dilfer said, "This is a joke." It was the right move to give Young the first opportunity at the LT position. It would also be the right move to put him back on the practice squad. You should never give up on a player based on one quarter of preseason football; there's just not enough time left to give him the coaching he needs.
The best O-line combination was D'Anthony Batiste on the left side and Bobby Massie on the right. Massie will grade out very well in this game. He had back-to-back plays where he didn't look like a rookie --- he looked worse. Despite those two plays mid-way through the 3rd quarter, Massie looked very capable of handling the job. There will be future mistakes, both mental and physical. Massie's status as a rookie will show again. Since the talent to be a starting RT in this league for years is evident, let's ride that horse through the rough times.
4) I don't know who Adrian Wilson is.
The number 24 on the field for this preseason is not the same man from the last two seasons. Wilson is playing at the same level that gave him a few Hall of Fame whispers about five years ago. Wilson was a huge liability the last two years. I'm assuming he was still in the lineup due to his leadership because his play wasn't strong enough.
Realizing it's only preseason, Wilson is much quicker to the ball and the punishing -- but legal -- hits have returned. Although defensive coordinator Ray Horton deserves some of the credit, it's obvious that injuries more than age had to do with Wilson's decline. He's healthy and he's back.
5) Daryn Colledge needs to make a decision.
Colledge was horrific in the first six games last year. He was below average for the next 5. He finished the year very strong.
In the first quarter versus the Titans, he tried to see if he could play 15 minutes with his head stuck between his hip pads. The view with that limited periphery outside the small hole caused him to miss many an on-coming rusher. Midway through the first quarter he figured out a great way to stop pressure: he made the tackle. Unfortunately his position isn't supposed to tackle anyone. The officials ruled that wrapping around the waist and spinning a defensive player to the ground was against the rules.
Colledge was brought in to secure the offensive line last year. He barely succeeded. Problem was his success came after the Cards season was over in regards to legitimate playoff contention. It may only be one quarter of a pre-season game, but the inexperience at both tackle positions demand Colledge be much more than average.
In fairness, he is not the first veteran to enter a preseason game mentally unprepared to play at a high level at the start of the game. The Cardinals can afford to give him a hall pass on this game. Colledge will hopefully decide that Nashville represented his last trip to the bathroom. No more hall passes.