Skelton vs. Kolb: Who is the better Quarterback?

Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a quarterback controversy. Whether you want to admit it or not, John Skelton's play in Sunday's win against the Philadelphia Eagles has created a murmur amongst the Cardinals fan-base about who should be starting, John Skelton or Kevin Kolb. Much of the debate thus far has been about who is the better quarterback. My goal is to provide some statistical analysis about both quarterbacks objectively, and then infer who is the better quarterback right now. I'm not going to presuppose who will be better in the future or who has the most potential (I'll leave that to all of you in the comment section). Obviously we, as Cardinals fans first and foremost, want whoever is the better quarterback to be the starter, because that player give us the best chance to be productive offensively, and therefore a better chance to win. Hopefully, this will provide us with a medium to look at the pure statistics of both quarterbacks, and allow for some reasonable and logical debating.

Before i present the stats, i will first explain what some of the less obvious statistics mean:

T.O.P - Time of Possession on offense.

Opposition Points off QB Turnovers - This is a counting stat for how many points the opponent generates off of a QB turnover. QB turnovers include LF-Lost Fumble, INT-Interception, SFT-Safety. The points recorded, in this statistic, are either defensive scores, or on the subsequent possession by the opposing offense.

Offensive P.O.T. - These are points that our offense was able to score after generating a turnover on defense. Defensive scores do not count. Any form of offensive score counts; ie rushing touchdown, field goal, passing touchdown.

D/ST Scoring - Points that were not created by our offense. Defensive or Special Teams touchdowns. This include the extra point.

QB Offense - Offensive production. Points that our offense scored. Includes field goals, rushing touchdowns, and passing touchdowns. Also has potential offensive production, which is essentially adding points for missed field goals.

Net QB Offense - QB Offense minus Opposition Points off QB Turnovers. This stat shows how much pure offense a quarterback provided; the points he was able to produce on offense minus the points he gave to the defense.

3 and Outs, 3&out% - I wasn't initially going to include this stat, but i saw the topic brought up many times in other Kolb vs. Skelton debates. 3 and outs counts how many times the offense went three and out (or 4 and out due to "False Start #75 Offense, 5 yard penalty, repeat _ down"). 3&out%, it the percentage of how many times the offense went three and out.

The rest of the categories are normal statistics and don't need to be explained. I will be grouping the statistics into two categories(due to image size), counting stats and offensive factor stats. Counting stats include: Passing Yards, Completion %, Touchdowns, Interceptions, Fumbles(Lost), Safeties, Sacks(Yards), and Tim of Possession. Offensive Factor stats include: Opposition Points off QB Turnovers, Offensive P.O.T., D/ST Scoring, QB Offense, NET QB Offense, 3 and out, and 3&out%. Now, before i ramble on to much about definitions and such, let's actually get to the point of this FanPost: the statistics.

Kevin Kolb Counting Stats


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John Skelton Counting Stats

6348315557_7919efc89d_medium*2010 season

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The key category to focus on would be the averages of each of these stats. I've included all three possible combinations of John Skelton's statistics, just to show all possible interpretations of how he is performing. We can see that Skelton averages more yards than Kolb by slightly more than 20 yards in 2011, but Kolb is averages more yards than 2010 Skelton and 2010/2011 Skelton. Kolb is more accurate than all three Skelton combinations, although not by much in the current season. So far, this is exactly what has been pointed out by both sides of the Kolb vs. Skelton debate, Skelton throws for more yards and bigger chunks of yards(this season), and Kolb is more accurate. Similar to the passing yardage statistic, Kolb averages more touchdowns than 2010 and 2010/2011 Skelton, but less than 2011 Skelton.

Next is the turnover statistics, all three Skelton variations average less interceptions than Kolb, however, the difference is very small in each quarterbacks 2011 averages. Both quarterbacks have far too high average fumbles/game, but Kolb is averaging more fumbles than all three Skeltons. Neither quarterback is necessarily safety prone, but they both have conceded safeties this year, with Skelton getting two consecutive safeties bringing his average higher than Kolb's.

I have read many people arguing over quarterback sacks these past few days, so i was really excited to see what the actual case was, and guess what? Both quarterbacks are getting sacked at a very similar rate. I have read plenty of Skelton debaters arguing that Kolb runs backwards and loses a lot of yardage, however Skelton himself is averaging more yards lost/sack than Kolb. I personally don't think that these sacks should be attributed to either quarterback, our offensive line just sucks and any quarterback under center would get sacked.

Time of possession was also an argument used in debate by both sides, but after looking up the stats, the difference is negligible but still below 50% T.O.P./game. So after analyzing both quarterback's counting statistics, i would argue that these two quarterbacks are fairly similar. Skelton's improvement from his first to second year is noticeable, and gives him a slight edge over Kolb. At this point, Kolb's and Skelton's stats are so similar that it is nearly impossible that one quarterback has 'earned' the starting job. That being said, i would say Skelton has a slight edge, due to having less turnovers than Kolb.

Kevin Kolb Offensive Factor Stats


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John Skelton Offensive Factor Stats


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In the first statistical category, Opposition Points off QB Turnovers, we will be able to see how much each quarterbacks turnovers directly affect the score. Kolb has done better this season than Skelton, in average for this category. During the early portion of the season, all of Kolb's turnovers gave the opponent the ball in their own end, and the defense was able to keep them from scoring. However, later on, when Kolb's turnovers gave the opposition the ball in our own end, they were able to capitalize on the turnovers and turn them into points. Skelton's turnovers, this season, have all led directly to points. His two safeties accounted for the 4 points in Week 9, and a pick-6 and a interception at our own 26 led to 10 point for the eagles. Using his 2010/2011 stats, Skelton is better than Kolb in this category, which shows that Skelton does a good job taking care of the ball, but in all but one of his turnovers the opposition was able to score, due to field position of his turnovers.

The next category shows the points that we have scored when our defense creates turnovers. I decided to use this stat just to show how much influence defensive takeaways effect the offensive production. Kolb is leading in this category despite having less opportunities. Through 6 career game, Skelton has been given 10 defensive turnover, and through 7 games Kolb has had 9. If nothing else, this statistic shows an ability to capitalize when the defense makes a play.

Defensive and Special Teams scoring is not a reflection of quarterback play at all. I just wanted to include it to show what alternate scoring each quarterback was provided with. All that should be inferred from this statistic is that Skelton has been provided with more defensive and special team's scoring then Kolb, which may have influenced win and loss totals.

The next two statistics are, in my opinion, the most telling. QB Offense and Net QB offense do a good job in showing how each quarterback affects our offense. When analyzing each quarterback's statistics in these categories, it is easy to see that both quarterbacks are very similar. Kolb provides slightly better QB Offense and Net QB Offense than Skelton. The difference is almost negligible, but Kolb does technically have the edge. In fact, the Net QB Offense for both quarterback for this year, which many Skelton supportors claim is his best, Kolb has a 3.5 point edge, which is significant considering how close a lot of our games have been this year.

Finally, the 3 and out statistic. Sustained drives are very important in the NFL. Even if points are not scored on a drive, that drive could still be considered successful. Field position is very important and being able to change that field position with longer drives is a very important job of the quarterback. Also, the ability to avoid 3 and outs can allow our defense to rest, while tiring out the opponent's. Kolb, simply put, does better than Skelton at maintaining drives and changing that field position. Kolb goes three and out roughly 20% of the time, while Skelton's 3 and out percentage is roughly 27%.


There is very good reason why we are currently in a QB controversy, both of these quarterbacks have very similar statistics. There are some categories in which Skelton has the advantage and other in which Kolb does. Skelton seems to have the advantage in many of the counting statistics, while Kolb seems to have it in the Offensive factor statistics. However, for both of the subsections the difference between Kolb and Skelton is very small, and a good or bad game from one quarterback could skew the stats in the other's favor. Many people will argue that Skelton should be the starter because of his record, 4-2, against Kolb's record, 1-6. However, simply looking at the record doesn't tell the whole story.


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Just by looking quickly at the points allow per game, you can see how Skelton has been the beneficiary of some very good defensive play this season and last. Even though wins are listed as a quarterback statistic, they aren't a very effective measure of how a quarterback is playing, especially considering the sample size of each quarterback.

Now this is only one man's opinion on the following statistics. Please feel free to analyze them yourselves and comment below. Also, i won't be providing any of my own reasons for who should be starting and for what reasons. I leaving that up to the comment section.

For quick access to all the images with the statistics, follow this link

<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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