Arizona Cardinals: Why They Still Don’t Have a Starting QB

By Matt Buffington
August 25, 2012 9:47 am
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John SkeltonWith the injury to Levi Brown, the Cardinals' offensive line has really suffered. Brown was never really a ‘great’ left tackle, but watching the line try to protect the quarterback without him has shown just how much worse the alternatives were.

However, the Swiss cheese that is known as the Cardinals' offensive line is not the main reason why the Cardinals don’t have a starting quarterback yet.

Coach Whisenhunt is just as much to blame as any of the players on the offense.

The quarterback position is arguably one of the most important positions on an NFL team in this pass-happy era. A team without a clear No. 1 quarterback when the preseason starts has a limited amount of time to make a decision, but how can a solid decision be made if there isn’t enough data?

The competition for quarterback is between John Skelton and Kevin Kolb. It started that way, and it remains the same today. Over the course of the preseason, Kolb has 37 pass attempts, Skelton has thrown 25 passes and Ryan Lindley has a whopping 66 attempts, which is more than Skelton and Kolb combined. 

This is where Whisenhunt is making a huge mistake.

How can Kolb or Skelton get into any kind of rhythm with so few attempts? When Skelton came in against the Oakland Raiders, he threw three passes. Giving a quarterback one quarter of play might be a good idea if that quarterback is Drew Brees, but Skelton and Kolb need all the reps they can get.

Kolb finally had a chance to get a rhythm going against the Tennessee Titans, throwing 22 passes. Other starting quarterbacks like Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco threw more than 20 passes in their latest preseason outings, and they don’t have any competition for the job.

Giving your backup quarterbacks more chances than the guys competing for the starting job is terrible coaching. What does it matter who your third-string option is when you have no idea who your starter is?

If Lindley was in the running to take over the starting job in the first week of the regular season, it would make sense to give him preseason experience.

However, Whisenhunt has made it clear that either Kolb or Skelton will be the Week 1 starter, which means Lindley should be riding the pine or just playing a few snaps late in the game at this point.

The second mistake by the coaching staff is the play-calling. If the offensive line is not protecting the quarterback, changing the plays can at least show the decision-making abilities of each quarterback.

Set up a quick screen play or a quick slant. Give the quarterbacks a chance to make a couple of completions.

In the game against the Titans, Larry Fitzgerald was open on multiple plays, but the protection had collapsed so quickly each time that it was impossible to actually throw the ball to him. When Fitzgerald got involved in the game, it was mostly with short passes.

Each quarterback should be given a chance to get a rhythm going, and calling some short plays to get each one started would be a good way to at least see how each quarterback handles the situations.

Hopefully Whisenhunt gives each quarterback a significant amount of playing time in the upcoming preseason game. With the Cardinals current offensive woes, any clarity before the regular season begins is a step in the right direction.

The Cardinals will have to make do with Skelton or Kolb for at least this season, so they need to give both quarterbacks an chance to help the team get some wins this year.

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By Matt Buffington
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