2 weeks in, QB uncertainty in NFL adds twists to Cardinals schedule

Sep 16, 2019, 11:27 AM | Updated: Sep 17, 2019, 8:44 am
Ben Roethlisberg, left, and Drew Brees, right, are injured. Cam Newton, center, has struggled of la...
Ben Roethlisberg, left, and Drew Brees, right, are injured. Cam Newton, center, has struggled of late. All that could benefit the Arizona Cardinals this season (AP photos).
(AP photos)

Sporting a 0-1-1 record after two weeks of the NFL season, the Arizona Cardinals are hoping incremental improvements eventually can lead to wins.

Of things they can’t control, their remaining schedule is looking a tad bit different.

The Cardinals will not have to face Pittsburgh Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for a Dec. 8 matchup in Week 14 of the season after an elbow injury has ended the 37-year-old’s season. And a torn ligament in New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ thumb could keep him out around six weeks, according to the Associated Press, putting a Week 8 game against Arizona in question.

The six-week mark of the injury lands exactly on that game’s Oct. 27 date.

Adding to the list Tuesday morning was New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who was benched in favor of rookie signal caller Daniel Jones. The Giants take on Arizona in Week 7.

In the more immediate future, the Cardinals host a Carolina Panthers team this Sunday that’s led by a struggling quarterback, Cam Newton, who’s status is “up in the air” due to a recurring foot issue, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. Newton’s backup is Scottsdale Desert Mountain High School product Kyle Allen, a second-year pro with two games of experience.

Newton completed 24 of 50 passes for 324 yards in Carolina’s 20-14 loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday night. But he missed 15 open receivers — 10 passes overthrown, five underthrown — according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

ESPN also cited Newton being 0-for-10 passing while under duress, along with taking three sacks.

“All fingers are just pointing back to me specifically on offense,” said Newton, who has not thrown or run for a touchdown in his last four starts.

On Sunday, Brees tore a ligament near his thumb and Roethlisberger hurt his elbow, also requiring surgery. The injuries occurred to their throwing arms.

In their places, Mason Rudolph looked solid enough, throwing for two fourth-quarter touchdowns in the Steelers’ 28-26 loss to Seattle. And the Saints’ Teddy Bridgewater, though he struggled against the Rams’ strong defense Sunday in a 27-9 loss, is considered by many the best insurance policy at quarterback in the NFL.

Bridgewater also had his career disrupted by injury, a nasty knee issue while he was Minnesota’s starter that cost him the 2016 season and relegated him to backup status since. Coach Sean Payton’s offense rarely has been run by anyone but Brees, so it’s hard to predict how Bridgewater might fare.

As for Rudolph, he beat out Joshua Dobbs — who was later traded — for the backup role to Roethlisberger.

Rudolph might be the future quarterback for the Steelers, and for the rest of 2019 he is the present QB. With the Steelers (0-2) already in a hole in an AFC North led by Baltimore, losing Roethlisberger is ominous.

As much as Arizona might not be facing as many proven starting quarterbacks as projected, the Cardinals still have a daunting schedule coming off a loss to the Ravens where quarterback Lamar Jackson threw for 272 yards and rushed for 120 more.

Within their NFC West division, they still face Seattle’s Russell Wilson (Weeks 4 and 16), San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo (Weeks 9 and 11) and Los Angeles’ Jared Goff (Weeks 13 and 17) twice each.

The other projected starting quarterbacks on the schedule include Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton (Week 5), New York’s Jones (Week 7), Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston (Week 10) and Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield (Week 15).

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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