ROTB Roundtable: QB's, Defense, and Division Rivals

A two-game win streak: Feels nice to say it, am I right?  Well, that's what the Cardinals are riding right now, and it's safe to say that we're all enjoying it.  But although we just beat the Philadelphia Eagles, a.k.a. the "Dream Team", there are still numerous questions surrounding the team.

The ROTB Writing Staff took their shot at answering three of those questions.  Hit the jump to read their answers, and don't forget to answer the questions yourself in the comments below.

1) Pretend you're Coach Whiz.  John Skelton is coming off a big win against the Eagles.  Would you start him or Kevin Kolb against the 49ers, and why?

Tyler Nickel: If Kolb is healthy, I go with him. Skelton is a good player, but Kolb is the Cards' QB of the future. He is also the better player and I still think he gives the team a better chance to win.

Jess Root: In the end, it has to do with health. However, if I am going to put Kolb in a position to succeed, if he has any lingering toe/foot issues, I start Skelton and let Kolb back in against a bad Rams team. If Skelton plays really well, then you have a real controversy because it would be against an elite defense -- not just okay or good. Likely, Skelton will struggle because SF has been awfully good. Then it makes it easy to say that Kolb comes back. On the other side of the coin is if Kolb comes back and struggles, it would cause a lot of fan noise calling for Skelton. But in the end it depends on health. If Kolb is completely healthy, you start him. That's how things go.  Skelton has not exactly been Michael Vick of a year ago.

Jesse Reynolds: While Skelton did take four sacks last game, he does makes the line look better in pass protection. San Francisco can get after the passer this year. Justin Smith has had a beast of a season. Kolb also hasn't practiced in two weeks. If Kolb is out for even one practice, Skelton must get the start. He will have a heck of a match up as the Niners have the best run defense in the league averaging under 80 yards allowed a game, so again Beanie may not help much. But their pass defense isn't as spectacular being ranked 22nd. Whatever QB plays is going to have to win this game with their arm. Any turnovers and it's lights out AZ

JoeCB1991: It depends, Kolb hasn't been cleared to practice yet so if he isn't healthy give Skelton a chance to see what he can do against an 8-1 team.  If he wins, it will be really tough to go back to Kolb, but if he loses or plays poorly it will take away some of the controversy and make it easier to stick with Kolb.

Cdeveau: I'm Coach Whiz. I start Kevin Kolb if he is available and has practiced this week. The maneuvers the front office took to bring him in during the off-season speak to such. I do expect to see progress though, and if he has a poor performance Sunday...If Kolb hasn't practiced, then I start Skelton and have Kolb ready as a backup. 

Khodder: If I am in the shoes of Coach Whiz I start Skelton for another week, and I continue to start him until Kolb can practice in full for the entire week before a game. Right now there is no reason to risk any further injury for Kevin Kolb. The team nor Kolb does not lose a whole heap, and the benefits that the team gains in seeing Skelton get some consistent starts under his belt and face some defenses that are a big test for him. If and when Kevin Kolb can go the full week you need to insert him back into the lineup, you have made the commitment to him, you have to take all the chances to see what he offers you without shorting him by playing him injured.

Long story short, as soon as Kolb is 100% healthy and able to go a full week on the training ground before the game he is starting, if that is not possible then we stick with John.

2) The Defense has put up two outstanding games in a row.  What is suddenly going right for them?

Tyler Nickel: I think that the defense has come on for three reasons. 1. They found a spark and ran with it, I don't know where from, but they found one. 2. I think they are finally understanding Ray Horton's complex defensive scheme. Lastly, I think the injection of youth is finally paying dividends in the form of Acho/Scho, Peterson, etc.

Jess Root: You know what is going right? The mental side. The missed assignments that we saw for so many games are finally starting to disappear. That's the difference. I recall several posters writing about how it wouldn't be until the second half of the season  to see if the coaching and scheme changes would make a difference. They have. I imagine more of the same. Oh...it never hurts that they are starting to get pressure.

Jesse Reynolds: They are playing faster, guys are making plays and Porter isn't getting any snaps. The biggest reason overall is our CB's have been playing much better. Tighter coverage's, more contested balls and general improvement have greatly helped this team. Several times last week Vick ran around looking for someone to throw too, in the past that never happened. dddd

JoeCB1991: More of the young players are out there, they have injected some energy and speed into the defense, and the players are starting to figure out what Horton wants them to do and they are executing his scheme better.

Cdeveau: The defense has come together. I feel that this is part of the teachings clicking, and part of the new rotation of players. Acho and Schofield. Bradley getting into games. The 49ers will be a good test for this newly clicking defense.

Khodder: I have said it was going to take time, we are putting in an entirely new defensive scheme with next to no offseason, it was always going to be around midseason when the defense began to click and began to play some top quality games. But there are still issues, there was two or three times against the Eagles when the secondary blew a coverage and was only saved by an inaccurate throw from Michael Vick. I also think there is something to be said about fresh legs coming in at linebacker, or more to the point, the removal of the legs of Joey Porter from the field. The last two weeks Porter has not played a snap, and the defense has allowed 19 points to opposing offenses.

3) The Cardinals take on the 8-1 49ers this week.  What/who is going to be the biggest factor in the game?

Tyler Nickel: Whoever the QB is. They go up against a top flight 49ers defense, so Kolb/Skelton will have to be on their games.

Jess Root: Interesting thought. We know the SF defense will be strong. The San Fran offense is not deadly, but methodical. Keeping them out of the end zone will be critical. When Arizona has opportunities in the red zone, they have to punch it in for touchdowns. IN the end, it will come down to two Cardinals -- Kolb/Skelton and Beanie Wells

Jesse Reynolds: This is a wicked tough question. The Niners front 7 have been playing phenomenal so slowing them down is imperative. The Niners run game is abusing people, another thing we must slow down. Lastly the Niners have capitalized on turnovers, so we can't turn over the ball. If I had to pick one, stop the run and make Alex Smith beat us. It's our best chance.

JoeCB1991: The Defense stopping the 49ers ground game.  Alex Smith has been very good this season, but he hasn't had many chances to take over games because of how well the 49ers run the ball.  Force him to sling the ball around the field, and try to force him to make bad decisions.

Cdeveau: The biggest factor from the Cardinals/49ers game coming  up? Two things, our defensive front 7 stopping the 49ers run. Force Alex Smith to beat your team. And on the flip side, the Cardinals run game needs to take pressure off of the QB.

Khodder: Turnovers. Turnovers are going to be a massive factor in this game. Currently the 49ers have a league leading +13 turnover differential over the course of the season. Only once this season has the 49ers defense managed to turn the ball over less than two times, and only once has their offense turned it over more than once, both happened to be in the same game. While they still won that game and 25-19 win over the Lions was harder than it should have been. If Arizona wants to have any shot at winning this game they are going to have to take care of the football and take it away from the 49ers. As always the guys that have the biggest share of the ball, the quarterbacks, are going to be keys. Force Smith into some early mistakes, get a lead on the board, force Smith to win on his arm, and hope that your offense can squeak out 20-25 points against a very stout defense.

Don't forget to answer the questions in the comments below!
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