TEMPE — John Skelton began the 2012 season as the starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals.
A third-year pro, the former Fordham star appeared to be on a career path that was trending upward, with a chance to establish himself not only as a solid QB in the NFL, but as the Cardinals’ quarterback of the present and future.
Skelton finished the 2012 season as a healthy scratch, inactive for the team’s final two games as passers Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer shared the reps.
“It was disappointing,” Skelton said Monday as he and his teammates cleared out their lockers. “To start as high as I did to be named the starter and then that first week to go down (with an ankle injury), then it kind of just up and down from there.
“These last few weeks have kind of just been a nosedive, I guess.”
Skelton finished the season completing just 109 of 201 passes for 1,132 yards and two touchdowns. He was picked off nine times and compiled a quarterback rating of 55.4.
His numbers were not good — they were not even mediocre — which could lead one to wonder how a young player could get worse from one season to the next.
Yet, that’s what happened, and Skelton said the great thing about the NFL is that he’ll likely get another opportunity to prove himself.
“Next year and this offseason is a chance at redemption.”
Redemption may not come in Arizona.
Skelton admitted there were times he felt he “got the short end of the stick” with regards to how head coach Ken Whisenhunt handled things, but figured it’s just part of the business.
“When you’re losing eight or nine in a row, everyone’s going to be grasping for straws,” Skelton said. “And I think there’s times that we did that here in Arizona.”
Whisenhunt and the Cardinals most certainly did, and nothing the coach did was able to turn things around or solve the team’s problems at quarterback. Kevin Kolb, who like Skelton is still under contract for next season, provided some stability early in the season, but went down in Week Six and the team never recovered.
Then again, there were times during what ended up being a nine-game losing streak that the Cardinals appeared capable of getting a win. Skelton points to what happened in Atlanta — where he was pulled from the game with a 13-0 lead — as something that still irks him to this day.
“That one hurts,” Skelton said. “Getting the pull that early, that kind of sucks.
“I haven’t forgotten; I don’t think I’ll forget it anytime soon.”
Skelton appeared to be not fond of the decision-making by his head coach, and even though the QB struggled this year, it’s easy to see why. Being in and out of the lineup would not be easy for anyone to handle, and Skelton admitted this season has led to some resentment.
“There’s some animosity, I think, sometimes it’s just the way the business is,” he said. “You can’t always have it your way, you can’t always have a good time, so you’ve got to take the good with the bad and just roll with it.”
Skelton, who said he would welcome some kind of change at this point, knows that very well could lead to him being with a different team next season. It may have to.
“I think it’s going to be hard to continue if things stay the same here, with me getting the short end of the stick,” he said. “But we’ll see what happens. It’s a long offseason, there will be a lot of changes.”