Arizona Cardinals QB competition overshadowed by what really matters
"What happens at Lumberjack Stadium stays in Lumberjack Stadium."
It wasn't a misplaced Vegas reference. Instead, Clark Haggans said it Wednesday night, trying to describe the intensity of the Cardinals night practice. Physical. Intense. Lot of trash being talked. The Cardinals have reached that point in camp where they've grown tired of each other, and frankly, I agree. We're all ready for the games to start. Players are ready; they want to beat on someone else. Fans are ready; by now we all understand we're never going to answer the "big question" at quarterback based on practice.
Neither Kevin Kolb nor John Skelton has yet to distinguish themselves after one week of practice. Is it
A. Because it's been one week, stupid (likely answer)
B. Neither guy is a distinguishable quarterback (scary answer) or
C. The Cards defense is so good, it's impossible to use practice to judge them (sneaky answer that is the focus of this blog)
The talk Thursday in Flagstaff after last night was about the defense and just how far ahead it (any really defense) is over the offense at this stage in camp. A cliché to be sure, but clearly that's where the Cardinals are at. I don't believe that's the reason why the QB competition is a stalemate but it doesn't help when the talent is concentrated on the other side of the ball.
I remember at one point last year suggesting the very identity of the Cardinals was changing before our eyes. The glory years (you know….all two of them) of putting up huge offensive numbers with Warner and Fitz and Q and Breaston are gone, replaced with a defense that's like a good dark beer: Stout. This team's very soul may lie in players like Campbell and Dockett. Washington and Acho. Peterson and his healthy ego (second-best corner in the league Patrick, really?).
Gambo and I debated on Thursday whether this new identity was born by default (Gambo) or by design (me). In truth it hardly matters; this is how it is. These aren't two elite quarterbacks fighting it out on the fields of Flagstaff. The thunder and lightning backfield of Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams could go boom, could go bust. Michael Floyd won't be Anquan Boldin on day one.
Now, I'm not trying to trivialize who wins the gig between Kolb and Skelton. It's still the most important position in all of sports. Just understand, no matter who gets the nod on September 9th against Seattle, the reality is that the Cardinals will likely win football games just as they did last year; thanks to their defense and special teams. Should that assumption come to fruition, follow it with another: Ray Horton is gone, off to find fame and fortune as the coach of (insert team here).
Worry about that later. The hope is that a QB emerges that is able to make enough plays to play to the defensive strength of the team. Figuring out who that is starts in earnest on Sunday.