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One less member on Team Kolb

My name is Vince Marotta, and I’m a recovering Team Kolb

Since the summer of 2011, when I was on the air doing a
daily morning show at a Valley radio station, I’ve been on
board with Kevin Kolb taking over the Arizona Cardinals’
offense. Of course, the lockout basically turned our show
into an every day smorgasbord of Kolb-to-Arizona rumors,
and I followed them religiously, buying into the thought
that the Eagles backup was the answer for the Cards.

How could I not feel that way? After going from Kurt
Warner and 10 wins to Derek Anderson/Max Hall and five
wins, the case for Kolb to be the solution for head coach
Ken Whisenhunt was an easy one to make. Sure, the sample
size was small — only seven starts — but in his first
two starts in 2009, Kolb threw for 391 and 327 yards,
becoming the first NFL quarterback ever to throw for 300-
in his first two outings. Derek Anderson couldn’t do
that. Max Hall? No way!

I sat at Kolb’s introductory press conference last summer
and felt excitement that the Cardinals quarterback
position was solidified. Did I have concerns that $63
million was a little too much to give a quarterback with
limited starting experience? Yes, but those thoughts were
quelled by confidence that Kolb’s résumé was limited
because of the presence of Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick
in front of him on the Philadelphia depth chart. A new
location would equal a fresh start and a chance to prove
legitimacy, right?

The Kolb era got off to a good start in his first game as
a Cardinal when he threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns
in a 28-21 win over the Carolina Panthers. But the rest
of Kolb’s campaign was marred by injuries and
inconsistency. Fans who weren’t drinking the Kolb Kool-
were quick to point out the fact that the Cardinals
were only 3-6 in games that he started.

Never mind that the defense vastly improved over the
season’s second half when Kolb was on the sidelines and
John Skelton was becoming the Cardinals’ version of Tim
Tebow — leading Arizona to wins despite less-than-stellar
statistics. Never mind that the injuries — turf toe and
a concussion — were legitimate injuries that would have
kept every other NFL starter in street clothes.

The haters were going to hate. “The Cardinals wasted $63
million,” they’d say. “Skelton is the man.”

I heard the comments and chose to disagree with them. My
thought process was simple: 2011 was a wash. Kolb’s
progress was derailed not only by injury, but by the
lockout which prevented OTAs and mini-camp workouts, which
are invaluable to a quarterback learning a new system.
With a full season, Kolb would be fine.

Then Sunday night happened. Kolb got the start in the
annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio and did
absolutely nothing to grasp control of the much-talked-
quarterback competition. Kolb’s first pass of the
game was a tardy sideline floater intended for Andre
Roberts that was intercepted by New Orleans safety Malcolm
Jenkins. On his second possession Kolb was 0-for-2 and
the Cardinals went three-and-out.

The third possession actually started with a completion to
fullback Anthony Sherman for four yards, but Kolb was
pressured by New Orleans defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis
who landed on top of the Cardinals quarterback after the
ball was thrown. A perfectly legal, seemingly innocuous
hit knocked Kolb out of the game with a rib contusion.

And it was at that moment that I took off my Team Kolb

John Skelton needs to be the starting quarterback for the
Arizona Cardinals in 2012. That’s not to say that I
believe Skelton is the long-term answer, either. But he
has proven he can win football games at this level, he
doesn’t fade in tight, late-game situations and he’s big,
strong and durable.

I like Kevin Kolb and when you get right down to it, I
feel he is a better quarterback than Skelton. But the
difference between the two is so small right now, coach
Whisenhunt needs to go with the guy he can rely on to stay
on the field.

Skelton is clearly that guy. At least right now.