Sports Opinion & Analysis

War of the Dunces: The “QB Battle” in Arizona

In NFL on August 17, 2012 at 11:47 am

“Chuckle chuckle chuckle!”

While all eyes have been on Peyton Manning’s return to football, or on the Jets, as Tim Tebow continues to play on special teams (while running through the rain without a shirt), there has been another QB Battle (of sorts), taking place down in Arizona.

Kevin Kolb v. John Skelton.

To be fair, people have probably paid little (if any) attention to this “QB Controversy,” because the only real controversy is wondering how either of these guys got NFL contracts. Just in the preseason, their play has been bad. Really bad. Third string, junior varsity bad.

As of right now, Kolb and Skelton are to NFL quarterbacks what Bizzaro Superman is to Superman.

“I like footbaaaaaaall!

Kevin Kolb came to the Cardinals last year via a trade that sent Dominique Rogers-Cromartie and a second round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles. He arrived in Arizona with high hopes and even higher expectations of how he would pair with arguably the best receiver in the NFL, Larry Fitzgerald.

While Kolb was impressive during his first start against Cam Newton–err–the Carolina Panthers (18 of 27 for 309 yards, two touchdowns, and no picks), he then went on a downward spiral and showed he was more fragile than “Insert Most Breakable Item You Can Think Of Here.

Kevin Kolb team photo, circa 2011

Because of injuries, Kolb lost his job to Skelton, the Cardinals 2010 fifth round pick out of Fordham, a school you’ve never heard of. Skelton was a poor man’s Tebow; he was inept for three-and-a-half-quarters, only to snatch a miracle out of the air at the last second.

Flash forward to the start of the 2012 season, and because Kolb is making so much money, he is reinstated as the starter, but a starter on thin ice. As the backup, Skelton was very close on the depth chart, and it was the worst kept secret that whomever decided to play better would be handed the reigns of the team.

So far, neither guy wants the job.

In the beginning moments of the Hall of Fame Game against New Orleans, Kolb threw an interception, then got hurt from a perfectly legal hit by Sedrick Ellis.

“This is gonna huuuuuuurt…”

Yeah, Ellis is a big man, and yeah, getting hit sucks, but if you’re supposed to be the quarterback of an NFL team and can’t even take that hit in a preseason game, when are you ever going to take that hit? When are you ever going to show you’re a leader who can play when life’s a little uncomfortable?

While Skelton came in and played decently during his brief appearance against the Saints, he did so against the second-string defense. When he started the next game against Kansas City, he was (as expected, considering his modus operandi during every three-and-a-half quarters last season) simply awful.

“He looks open.”

With all this said, let’s take brief pause to summarize the Cardinals quarterback situation:

1) Kevin Kolb can make a pass, when-and-if he’s not freaking out and scrambling, or on his back and withering in pain.

2) John Skelton can’t make a pass, unless it’s at the end of the game when opposing teams have gotten so comfortable with the sizable lead they’ve earned, they start slacking off.

For the Arizona Cardinals, their fans, and just football in general, this is completely unacceptable, especially considering the team’s receiving core. As mentioned before, they have arguably the best receiver in the game, a group of capable tight ends, Early Doucet and Andre Roberts, and they just drafted Malcom Floyd, the best receiver in the 2012 draft not to have a DUI this year.

“Good luck getting any catchable passes, son.”

With that group of scorers, they should be lighting opponents up.

Instead, a year after the Kolb trade, there are rumors the Cardinals are already searching for another quarterback to come in and take over. During the offseason they made an unsuccessful attempt at Peyton Manning. Fans are already chanting for Ryan Lindley (their 2012 sixth round pick, out of San Diego State). There has been speculation the team is trying to deal for Cleveland’s Colt McCoy or Seattle’s Tarvaris Jackson.

So what’s the team to do?

For all intents and purposes, the Kolb-experiment for the team (and probably the NFL) is dead. People can argue it was “only a preseason game,” but if you’re a player who has a history of not being “tough enough,” and the first highlight of the season is of you crying from a run-of-the-mill tackle, you’re done as an NFL quarterback.

Regardless of the Kolb trade outcome, acquiring him was the best thing the Cardinals could have done, because it did sucker Larry Fitzgerald into signing an extension which will keep him in Arizona throughout the prime of his career.

“Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan…”

Every Cardinal fan should say a very heartfelt thank you to Kolb as he leaves, but he should leave nonetheless.

Afterward, the Cardinals should completely hand over the team to John Skelton. This doesn’t mean Skelton is the answer either, but by giving him the starter role now, the team can have adequate time to see what they truly have with him. This will also allow the QB battle in Tennessee to play out, and when Jack Locker beats out Matt Hasselbeck, the team should see how much it would cost to get the former Seahawk.

“Coming here was a mistake!”

Considering they already spent too much on one failed quarterback, the Cardinals should proceed with caution on their next QB search, and only go after Hasselbeck if he is at the right price. If he is, owner Bill Bidwell (and son Michael, who technically runs the team) should not hesitate one second to write that check, considering Hasselbeck knows the division, and after leading Seattle to four straight division titles, he knows how to win it as well.

Either way, no matter who wins the quarterback battle in Arizona, the team will have to look beyond its own locker rom if they want a viable answer. As long as the winner of the position is named Kolb or Skelton, the team and its fans still lose.

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