The recent FanPost breaking down the quarterback position for the Arizona Cardinals in 2011 and looking at the 2011 NFL draft has caught fire. There has been a lot (and I mean a lot) of discussion among the community about whom the Cardinals should draft and who should be the quarterback in 2011.
The debate continues with the quarterback position. Should the team draft Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton if either is available? Should it trade for Kevin Kolb, Carson Palmer, Kyle Orton or even Donovan McNabb? Should it sign a free agent veteran like Marc Bulger or Matt Hassellbeck? Should the team draft and sign? Should the team sign a backup and ride the John Skelton horse in hopes of progress? We all have our own thoughts.
I just want to share mine.
Many fans tend to think of types of seasons as "try to win now" or "rebuilding" seasons before the season starts. Sometimes, as it did in 2010 for us, the "win now" year goes sour. Some would that it is time to rebuild.
I say that you can have both. It is possible to both develop and have success. It is hard, though. What should the Cardinals do?
I think in the NFL, you almost always have to think of win now. The Cardinals are in a division in particular that screams "win now." There are not many times where the level of competition is as low as it is in a division. You have to take advantage of that.
As a fan, bearing with rebuilding only works in one case, and one case only. That is when you feel your team already has a star in place. You will bear with growing pains, particularly at the quarterback position, if you believe that that player will soon be a star.
As we saw just last season, playing for a better draft position is no fun. Just remember Christmas Day. In reality, it would make sense in our heads to hope they lost and secure a better pick. But the heart of a true fan cannot cheer on losing. A true fan will deal with it, but never will cheer for it. That win was as gratifying a win as any other. It was just fun. Any other way is to be miserable and it really would make no sense to follow the team at all.
How does this apply to the Cardinals?
Looking at the quarterback position, we saw that in the NFC West it would have taken even average quarterback play to get the Cardinals into the playoffs. The same will likely happen in 2011.
Should the Cards draft one of the two top quarterbacks at number five? The easy answer is maybe. I mean, if you believe that Gabbert or Newton will be a franchise QB, then yes. Draft him. These types of quarterbacks are rare. If you think they are anything less? Nope. No way. Not at number five with the talent level in this draft at the top.
Now, if not taking a QB at the top, do you ride the wave with Skelton this season and play for 2012? I fully reject that notion. Skelton never was seen by the team as anything more than a project. He never was supposed to get on the field in 2010 and probably 2011. He was a three or four year project. Plus, there is one other important factor for me.
The only way I decide to just go with the rookie/project QB as my starter is if one of two things occur. The first is what happened in 2010 -- there was no other guy. Number one and number two went down with injury. You have to deal with that. The only other reason I decide to go with the young guy to just play and get reps is if I feel I am getting good offensive line play.
I will live with bad decisions from time to time because that is what young players do. I will not, unless necessary, take a guy who is still learning how to make reads and then throw him behind a line that will make him rush those sometimes bad decisions. That is deadly to the team and can be very detrimental to the player. Look at David Carr.
So for the Cardinals, even if I draft a guy at number five, I need a veteran. I have to sign a free agent or make a trade for a "cheaper" guy. Skelton is not an option at number one at all in my book.
Kevin Kolb? I am sold on him. Not just because I have seen enough spectacular, but also because of what NFL guys are saying. I am certainly not a scout, but I know when I see something talented. There are lots of football guys who are just gushing over Kolb. If the Cards feel that way, you trade whatever you can to get him -- even number five, if that is what it comes down to.
Obviously, the CBA is an issue. No CBA, no trade. And if the Cards draft a QB at number five, the trade probably does not happen.
In any case, the Cards, in my opinion, have to bring in a veteran quarterback to start. Whether it is trading for a guy they believe will be the franchise, trading for a cheaper stopgap or signing a stopgap. It has got to happen. The current offensive line is not at the level it should to trust it with the future quarterback of the franchise.
In the end, try to win now with an established or semi-established guy and try to win later by grooming Skelton or fill-in-the-blank rookie another year or two. That way if Kolb or Orton (the younger guys) are the guy next year, they have competition later. That is really the best way to attack the situation and it doesn't turn off the fan base like it can happen when a team throws away a season from the start.