Why John Skelton Deserves to Start

In this article, I'm going to break down why I believe John Skelton, not Kevin Kolb, should be at quarterback against the San Francisco 49ers, and possibly the rest of the season.

Those of who still have faith in Kevin Kolb should consider a few numbers. The most prominent one is his record as a starter: 1-6. The one victory did not come as a result of an offensive play: Patrick Peterson scored the touchdown to win the game against the Carolina Panthers in Week 1. Week 2 and Week 3 saw the Cardinals lose by 1 and 3 points, respectively. Jay Feely missed two field goals in the week 3 loss to the Seahawks. Perhaps that should have been a win, but it was not. Weeks 4 to 8 saw a four-game streak of Cardinals' opponents scoring more than 30 points each game, some games in which the secondary seemed lost at times. The week 6 bye did not help the team at all. During those games, Kolb turned the ball over six times (two lost fumbles, four interceptions) compared to three touchdown passes. Kolb has been sacked 24 times in 7 games, partly due to his limited mobility and partly due to the offensive line habitually collapsing as it has always done.

To analyze John Skelton's body of work, his 2010 games have to be taken into account. This may be an unfair comparison as he has likely improved as a player since then. Thus, his statistics as a passer in 2010 aren't necessarily an indicator of where he is today; I use them as an indicator for the type of player he is.

Skelton's first start came against the Denver Broncos, then without quarterback Tim Tebow. The Cardinals routed the Broncos 43-13 in a game where Jay Feely kicked 5 field goals. I mention this as an indicator of scoring drives. Turn all those field goals into touchdowns, and instead of 15 points, you have 35. Tack on 20 more points to that game and it's 63-13, Cardinals. Week 15 of 2010 was not so favorable for Skelton as he turned the ball over twice and did not score a touchdown. The Cardinals lost that game 12-19 to the Panthers.

On Christmas Day, Skelton played one of the best games of his career to date- not including the week 10 game against the Eagles, which I'll get to shortly. The defense put the team up 14-0 in the first quarter of that game; by the half, they were up 21-10. Third string quarterback Steven McGee led the Dallas Cowboys on a comeback drive that had an interesting result: Dallas placekicker David Buehler missed an extra point. With 1:41 left on the clock, Skelton led the Cardinals on a game-winning drive of which included a 4th and 15 pass to Larry Fitzgerald for 26 yards. It is safe to say that Skelton won the game for his team that day.

Flash forward to 2011. Week 9 against the St. Louis Rams, Skelton struggles but plays just well enough to allow Patrick Peterson an overtime opportunity to win the game. Skelton took two safeties in the game, yet he threw a crucial fourth-quarter touchdown to Fitzgerald to tie the game up at 13.

Then, the Cardinals travel the East Coast with a long losing streak on the road to an Eagles team which is supposedly hungry for a win. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Eagles lead 14-7. Skelton fights back to make it 14-14. The Eagles answer with a field goal to take the lead. Just when all seems lost, Skelton leads a game winning drive which includes a 4th and 2 pass to LaRod Stevens-Howling for 30 yards. The score stood as AJ Jefferson intercepted Michael Vick to end the game.

So, who is the better passer? Certainly, Kolb has not been at fault alone for the games the Cardinals has lost when he has played. All the same, it is impossible to dismiss the starting records of each quarterback.

Kevin Kolb (Cardinals only): 1-6

John Skelton (2010 and 2011): 4-2

Let's break down their performances in the 4th Quarter. Here I am using quarterback rating.

Kevin Kolb (2010 w/Eagles): 46.2

Kevin Kolb (2011 w/Cardinals): 72.0

John Skelton (2010): 89.1

John Skelton (2011): 101.8

To me, those stats are easily the most telling when it comes to which team wins the game. John Skelton is a quarterback who can be relied upon to comeback, convert fourth downs, and carry home the W. Kevin Kolb is a quarterback who is better at managing the game and who excels when his team has the lead and can hand it off a lot. The running game was better when Kolb was under center, though it's unknown how much of that was due to Beanie Wells being healthier at that time.

Despite Kolb being paid a big contract, it is time for Arizona to turn to John Skelton if they want to win the NFC West. Yes, I am being optimistic when I say that, but here is their remaining schedule: @SF, @StL, Dal, SF, Cle, @Cin, Sea.

All of these games look winnable to me. Is it unrealistic to expect the Cards to end the season with a nine-game winning streak? Maybe....but then, it's entirely possible.

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Revenge of the Birds' (ROTB) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of ROTB's editors.</em>

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