Without question, the rumors about where Kevin Kolb would land to play quarterback in 2011 were the most prevalent during the offseason and NFL lockout. Of course, most people knew that Kolb would end up in Arizona, and he did.
We know that the Cardinals gave up a lot to get him. We also know that the Cardinals rewarded Kolb with a hefty contract that guarantees him $21 million.
This decision split Cardinal fans into two different categories; those who though Kolb was the answer, and those who thought the price the Cardinals paid in the trade and the contract was entirely too steep for a player who had seven career NFL starts heading into the season.
After a 1-4 start including Sunday's 34-10 loss at Minnesota (and the Kolb era), and the number of fans heaping on criticism on Kolb, blaming him for the dismal showing and calling for his ouster is growing by the minute.
The question is, why?
I nearly fell off my chair on Sunday following the Cardinals' ugly 34-10 loss to the previously winless Minnesota Vikings, when a caller phoned into "Cardinal Talk" with Jon Bloom and Rob Fredrickson, and suggested that Richard Bartel is the answer for the Cardinals at QB.
Look, I'm the first to admit that Kolb has been average at best. He was good against Carolina, decent against Washington and the Giants and bad against Seattle and Minnesota.
But if you're arguing that Kolb's not the answer because he doesn't have the experience at this level, you can't, in the next breath, suggest that a guy who has thrown a total of 34 garbage-time passes in the NFL is.
And don't throw the "Bartel was awesome in the preseason" argument at me either. So was Max Hall. The NFL preseason is nearly meaningless—it's a dressed-up practice. Seattle's Charlie Whitehurst was the league's top rated passer in the preseason. To quote Forrest Gump, "that's all I have to say about that".
On my list of concerns with this football team heading into the bye week, Kevin Kolb's play ranks 5th. The offensive line has done a less-than-stellar job in protecting Kolb. He was sacked four times against the Vikings, and was hit six more. There's already been a shuffle at right tackle with Jeremy Bridges replacing Brandon Keith. At left tackle, Levi Brown is, well, he's Levi Brown.
On defense, the pass rush from outside linebackers has been virtually non-existent. Veterans Joey Porter and Clark Haggans have combined for one quarterback sack this season. They've been able to hold off youngsters O'Brien Schofield and Sam Acho on the depth chart despite little production.
And the pass coverage, for the most part, has been bad as well. It's not that evident on the stat sheet from Sunday, mostly because Donovan McNabb isn't very good, and the Vikings ran the ball on nearly 64% of their offensive snaps. Both A.J. Jefferson (who was actually pretty good on Sunday) and Patrick Peterson have been picked on, and the safeties have lagged in coverage all season.
And there's also that issue of number two wide receiver. Andre Roberts has been a disappointment so far, and Early Doucet has been okay. But neither is a big enough threat to dissuade opposing defenses from bracketing Larry Fitzgerald. Fitz has more catches through five games this year (28) than last (26), but has been targeted 11 less times. This is simply because he's rarely open because of the defense's attention to him.
I won't sit here and say everything's fine with the Arizona Cardinals and that it's early, there's a lot of football left, and they play in the worst division in the NFL. From what I've seen through five games, I can't paint that picture with any kind of conscience.
This is a below-average football team at best. But the blame shouldn't be pointed solely in the direction of the quarterback.
No, this 1-4 start has been a total team effort.