He’s not ready. He’s a targeted weak link.
There is very little reason to believe Cardinals’ cornerback Brandon Williams will do well to start the 2016 season, but the team should start him anyway.
Grade him. Fail him or pass him. Just don’t flunk him out during the first quarter of school.
Alan Ball made a nice interception in practice his first day as a Cardinal. Mike Jenkins was hurt early but now looks decent.
Neither of them has Williams’ potential. Let Williams screw up on the field. Let him learn. It will get uglier before it gets better.
Everybody learns on the job to a varying degree. The Army Golden Knights have a different acceptable margin of error than a barista. If you want to be a Super Bowl contender, you can’t let young offensive lineman, allow your quarterback to get killed so “learning on the job” in that case means “learn from the sideline.”
At cornerback, a mistake leads to a potential touchdown. Although that’s a huge issue for winning games, it can be overcome much easier than an injured starting quarterback.
There are 0.377 reasons to start Williams: The names of the six (or seven) starting quarterbacks in the first 6 weeks of the season do not put the fear of God into any defensive coordinator.
Jimmy Garoppolo, Jameis Winston, Tyrod Taylor, Case Keenum/Jared Goff, Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Fitzpatrick are 69-114 as starting quarterbacks. They’ve won 37 percent of their starts.
The Cardinals’ schedule is perfect to break in a new running back-turned-corner.
Obviously, Williams is going to give up big plays. The offensive coaching staff of the Patriots might actually be saying, “Thank goodness Garoppolo’s first start has an available target like Williams.”
The key, however, is not getting Williams ready for the start of the season, as much as it is staying mentally strong as he goes through the beginning of his NFL career. A total loss of confidence is a major problem, but if every beatdown is treated as a learning experience, Williams has the perfect ramp to success through the first six quarterbacks of the season.
Williams should be — and will be — evaluated every game. He has to keep climbing and the team can’t be patient forever. If the Cardinals are truly a Super Bowl contender, they should be able to cover their blemish from Sunday Night Football against New England to Monday Night Football versus the Jets, five weeks later.
On Oct. 23 and 30, Williams will go up against two quarterbacks with a 91-50 record. Playoff seeds aren’t normally determined in October but back-to-back primetime games against Seattle and Carolina will have a dramatic effect on the direction the season takes for Arizona.
Start Williams for weeks 1-6. The audition ends when the team off-Broadway goes back home and the 12th Man flies to Phoenix.
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- Arizona Cardinals training camp: All-Access with Bruce Arians, Aug. 16
- All-Access with Cole Toner — Aug. 16: Avoiding the accountability board