Under most other circumstances the idea of the 24-year-old QB with the size, mobility and arm to succeed would be a good thing.
After all, what team doesn’t want to see a young signal caller take the reins and lead?
The Arizona Cardinals. At least, they didn’t.
We all know the hope was for Kevin Kolb to win the job. He was last summer’s high-priced acquisition and it was thought that an entire offseason with the team would lead to him taking the next step in his career.
Unfortunately that step has been backwards, and it’s tough to find anyone right now who genuinely believes the former Eagle has what it takes to lead a team.
That may not matter.
John Skelton earning the starting QB job could prove to be a turning point for the franchise. He’s by no means a finished product, but he boasts the necessary physical tools and mental makeup to succeed in the NFL.
Until he does, though, there will be questions. And if he doesn’t play well the Cardinals may very well turn to next April’s draft in hopes of finding their next quarterback. And if that happens, the question shifts from wondering if the team should take a QB in the first round to asking if Ken Whisenhunt and Co. should be allowed to make the selection.
Let’s be clear here: Ken Whisenhunt is an excellent football coach.
He’s only had one sub-.500 season with Arizona, won four playoff games and took the team to that Super Bowl thing back in the day.
But one can only live off that for so long, especially in a cutthroat business like the NFL.
The 2012 campaign turning into a lost season because of continuing uncertainty at the most important position on the field would be a sign that Whisenhunt, for all of his ability, just can’t find a QB. And given his background as an offensive coach, that very idea is puzzling.
All one has to do to understand is look at the list of QBs who have started a game for the Cardinals under Whiz’s leadership:
Matt Leinart, Kurt Warner, Derek Anderson, Max Hall, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb.
Six quarterbacks in six seasons, with five of them lining up under center over the last two years.
In comparison Dennis Green, who preceded Whisenhunt on Arizona’s sideline, started five quarterbacks in three years on the job.
Green’s inability to find a QB (though he thought he had one in Leinart) proved to be an issue, and it may very well be his successor’s downfall, too.
Maybe it won’t come to that. Hopefully it won’t come to that.
In a perfect world Skelton — or even Kolb — will perform well enough to render this entire column moot. One of them will find a way to perform well behind this sieve of an offensive line and use the various weapons the team has at the skill positions.
If it’s Kolb, great, as the Cards would have made the smart move in acquiring him. If it’s Skelton that’s cool too, as there would be no harm, no foul with the big whiff on Kolb. After all, the only thing that matters is the Cardinals finding a QB, the name on the back of the jersey be damned.
In the event that does not happen it would be tough — if not foolish — to go into next season with the same group of QBs. The team would have to add someone else, and you’d almost have to do it via the draft.
One of the reasons many feel Leinart and Whiz didn’t mesh was because the Heisman Trophy winner was drafted by a different coach. Dennis Green called Leinart a “Gift from from heaven;” Whisenhunt clearly did not feel the same way.
Leinart being on the team was essentially a waste of time, coaching and a roster spot, as he wasn’t a “Whiz guy” and never really stood a chance with the coach.
The Cards could not risk the same thing happening with their next QB.
If, you know, they actually have to draft one next year.