A few months ago I spoke to the offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals, Mike Miller, and I asked him how the game has changed from when I played (1985-95).
Mike looked at me and said, “It’s really changed in three primary areas: complexity of scheme, overall talent from top to bottom, and you cannot win without a quality QB.”
Since it appears the Cardinals QB search may be coming to a close, I wish to speak on two of the three: complexity of scheme and quality quarterback play and why I think Kevin Kolb may be the only option for the Cards.
The zone blitz is the scourge of every offense known to man. Its power can be found in the demands it puts on an offense – all 11. Protecting the QB in the National Football League is a fulltime, all the time job and it takes everybody being on the same page. Lineman need to know their responsibilities are not limited to blocking big-on-big, backs need to adjust and know when to release in flair control, receivers need to know who they’re responsible for in the secondary and know when to site adjust a route and when they are “hot.” Finally, and most importantly, quarterbacks need to know all of it!
But more than these, and most diabolical of all, the above components need to see and think the same way…from 11 different viewpoints.
Can you say Dick LeBeau?
This is why the NFL has become a QB league and this is why Coach Miller said to me what he did: this ain’t our daddy’s NFL.
Why is it important the QB is the first guy in and the last to leave on most work days? Why does it matter that he is a film-room freak? Why does character factor into the criteria of quality quarterback play? Why does maturity have a direct impact on a quarterback’s play on Sunday? Why is it important for every QB in the league to be perceived as a leader? Why do these guys get paid what they do? Why do teams build their fortunes around a “franchise” quarterback?
Because where your QB goes your team follows. You better find the right guy. There are two types of teams in the NFL: those that have that guy or believe they have that guy and those that do not.
Kevin Kolb seems to be the one and only way to go for the Cardinals. His work ethic is pronounced; He needs to be kicked out of the film room; He is a man of conviction and not prone to capricious behavior; He is a leader; He is respected by his peers; He is young and his best years should be ahead of him; He has the ability to make all the throws.
You can’t say this about every other free-agent or trade possibility that has been mentioned in the Cardinals quarterback search.
Kevin Kolb may not be the answer for the Cardinals. But the reasoning behind the pursuit of Kevin Kolb is rock solid. He’s the only guy that has the tangible and intangible qualities NFL teams look for when trying to build for long-term success, especially when that long-term view includes the best receiver on the planet.