Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said part of the reason the team decided to part with quarterback Kevin Kolb was because the two were never able to sit down and talk football.
Blame the collective bargaining agreement.
“Obviously he can throw it, obviously he can move around, but to tell me why he was throwing it and why he was doing the things he was doing, we could not do under the CBA,” he said at the NFL owners meetings Wednesday. “So that part of the evaluation process was hard for me, and we made an organization decision that we would go in a different direction.”
That direction led the Cardinals away from Kolb and his hefty contract and towards an even more uncertain future.
Because as far as quarterbacks go, the team now has Drew Stanton, Brian Hoyer, John Skelton and Ryan Lindley. While the group may have some skill, it certainly lacks in experience and, well, a track record of success.
Stanton, the new guy, has experience in Arians’ system but has thrown nearly more than twice as many interceptions as touchdowns. Hoyer, who the team signed late last season, has started one NFL game. And both Skelton and Lindley, while blessed with good size and big arms, have struggled with accuracy.
Arians said coaches can help someone like Skelton or Lindley improve on their accuracy problems, but only to a point. Comparing it to a golfer who goes to the driving range, he said much of it comes down to quarterbacks practicing specific parts of their game.
“A quarterback needs to be out there with his coach or two coaches doing those same things, working on his craft,” Arians said. “His accuracy, his mobility, his movement in the pocket, his deep ball. Everything in a progression, his red zone windows that he’s throwing into, all those things have to be coached extremely well during the week.”
However, Arians added that if a quarterback needs a complete overhaul, well, that’s not exactly an enticing option.
“At this level that’s tough to do,” he said, noting how it took golfer Tiger Woods a couple years after redoing his swing to get back on top of his game. “We don’t have two years to wait, but I think you can fix them some.”
No, Arians does not have two years to wait.
The Cardinals have spent the last three seasons unsuccessfully trying to replace Kurt Warner, and have tried everything from the high-priced (Kolb, Matt Leinart) to the discount rack (Derek Anderson, Max Hall). Preferring the term “reloading” to “rebuilding”, Arians said he believes the Cardinals are “not very far off.”
Many would agree, provided the Cardinals can get quality play from the quarterback position.
Which brings things back to the group that’s currently assembled. Arians said he believes there are about six quarterbacks in this year’s draft class that will play in the NFL, though he isn’t sure how many will be productive starters. He had good things to say about West Virginia passer Geno Smith — who has been rumored to be Arizona’s choice at No. 7 — but said the team will only draft a quarterback in the first round if they feel like it’s the right pick based on talent, not need.
And it’s very possible that Smith, who has had an impressive offseason, will not even be around for the Cardinals to take.
So, should the Cardinals not add another quarterback to the mix and instead roll with Stanton, Hoyer, Skelton and Lindley, it would appear Arians has his starter in mind: Stanton.
“Once we get the roster set, if that room hasn’t changed, he’s our starter,” he said. “It’s that easy.”