John Skelton and the Arizona Cardinals are not a recipe for winning football.
I’m not saying Skelton can’t or won’t ever be a winning quarterback, nor am I saying the Cardinals won’t have any more success. That would be a bit presumptuous. What I am saying is that Skelton needs more talent around him than the Cardinals can offer. If Peyton Manning (presumably) knew his neck would’ve been in grave danger with this offensive line, how can Skelton expect to thrive?
But Skelton’s struggles aren’t all on the offensive line. While the Cardinals generated a lame seven rushing yards during Monday’s 24-3 loss to the 49ers, they were able to run effectively last week against the Vikings, yet he still struggled to find consistency (and points) in the passing game.
While seemingly everyone and their brother dog-piled on Kevin Kolb’s lack of pocket presence and inability to read opposing defenses in the preseason, it’s been painfully apparent the last two weeks that Skelton has similar issues. He tends to hang onto the ball too long in the pocket, and either forces the ball in places he shouldn’t or overlooks open receivers. His accuracy also leaves a lot to be desired. He’s completed just 55 percent of his passes this season with one touchdown and three interceptions. His quarterback rating is a less-than-stellar 61.5.
During Monday’s beatdown, Skelton barely completed half his passes — at least while the game was still somewhat competitive. In the first half, he was 5-of-10 for 50 yards and an interception on a weak Hail Mary throw. While he completed his first three passes in the third quarter, including a nice 27-yarder to Jeff King, his next three attempts amounted to two completions for a grand total of three yards, and most importantly zero points.
The biggest problem was that the Cardinals needed to get off to a quick start, and at the very least, avoid falling into an early hole. Neither happened.
Unfortunately, quick starts haven’t happened as long as Skelton has been under center. In his 14 career starts, the Cardinals have scored a grand total of 33 first quarter points. That’s unacceptable.
Over the last eight quarters, the Cardinals offense has managed all of 17 points. That, is also unacceptable.
While Kevin Kolb isn’t exactly Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees, I find it hard to believe the Cardinals would be riding a four-game losing streak heading into Green Bay if he were still healthy. Of course staying off the injury report has been problematic for Kolb, and that’s something that will undoubtedly be written and talked about more in the coming weeks and months.
As for the here and now, Skelton should get another chance Sunday against the Packers. But if the offense continues to stall, and the Cardinals fall to 4-5 heading into their bye week, Ken Whisenhunt should consider starting Ryan Lindley. While many would argue that starting a rookie so soon would be waving the white flag on the season, what do you call continuing to ride with the offense we’ve seen the last two weeks?