Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb was injured in the Hall of Fame game Sunday night, a 17-10 loss by the Cardinals to Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.
The injury is good news for Cardinals fans.
Arizona management suffered one of the most dangerous afflictions that can befall a team: it fell in love with a back-up quarterback and dished out big bucks to land the unproven player. Kolb hoodwinked the Cardinals before the 2011 season into handing him a ridiculous 6-year deal worth a reported $63 million.
Kolb has shown little beyond rare shades of competence in his five-year career, the first four as a back-up in Philadelphia. He gave two nice performances filling in for the injured Michael Vick in 2010, helping lift the Eagles to consecutive wins over the 49ers and Falcons.
The win vs. Atlanta was easily the best game of Kolb’s career: 23 of 29, 79.3%, 326 yards, 11.2 YPA, 3 TD, 1 INT, 133.6 rating.
The Cardinals were apparently smitten by the brief appearances of success.
But things didn’t work out so well last year, as we predicted would be the case. Kolb was perfectly mediocre (57.5%, 9 TD, 8 INT, 81.1 rating) while Arizona struggled to a 3-6 record under his leadership. He missed almost half the season with various injuries.
Enter back-up John Skelton. He proved a spunky leader who did not put up great numbers but who consistently played well in the clutch.
In fact, he's proven historically good in tight situations in the few chances he's had to play.
Arizona not only went 5-2 in Skelton’s seven starts, he routinely helped the Cardinals pull out tight games, with four fourth-quarter comebacks and five game-winning drives.
Think of that: the Cardinals won just 8 games last year – five of them featuring a game-winning drive led by Skelton. He also produced a comeback and game-winning drive in his rookie season of 2010, as well.
The Cardinals are 13-19 over the past two seasons.
7-4 in games started by Skelton
6-15 in games started by somebody else
That clutch-ability is impressive. Keep in mind, as we’ve reported on several times this off-season, Green Bay's prolific Aaron Rodgers is considered the best QB in the game today, and certainly the most efficient. But he’s produced just three fourth-quarter comebacks and six game-winning drives in his entire career.
Compare Skelton and Rodgers side by side in these two measures of clutchability:
Skelton: 11 starts, 5 fourth-quarter comebacks, 6 game-winning drives
Rodgers: 62 starts, 3 fourth-quarter comebacks; 6 game-winning drives
We’re not saying that John Skelton is better than Aaron Rodgers. Not at all.
Just pointing out that Kolb’s injury Sunday night may prove a blessing in disguise for Arizona. It may force the Cardinals to face reality with Kolb; it may force the Cardinals to go with the quarterback who appears to be the more inspirational player and who has proven to possess a rare, even historic flair for helping lift his team to dramatic victories.