After the game against the Oakland Raiders, most would say that John Skelton is the clear favorite to win the starting quarterback job for the Arizona Cardinals. That is fair to say, based on what was seen Friday night. As fans, it looks like an obvious choice. But for the coaches, it might not be so clear yet. That's also probably because they look at a lot more. They look at practice execution, the game performance itself and also the film to see where breakdowns happened -- if it was the quarterback's fault or somewhere else in the play.
From all indications from training camp, practices have been pretty even. Some days Kolb looks better and other Skelton does. Some days neither looks great and other they both do.
Head coach Ken Whisenhunt has said that John Skelton would start this week against the Tennessee Titans and would get a longer look. That was all part of the plan. It doesn't mean that the decision has been made. It may be in Skelton's favor, but it isn't a sure thing.
What is hard about the preseason is the fact that in games it is hard to get an "apples to apples" comparison. Such is the case for the Raiders game.
In a small sample size for Skelton, he looked like the clear winner. In his one series, he led the team to a touchdown and looked decisive and accurate.
But Kevin Kolb looked the same way in his first series.
By the numbers, if you take both quarterbacks' opening numbers and situations:
- 41-yard TD drive
- 3/3 22 yards
- good field position set up by big play on special teams -- Patrick Peterson 46-yard punt return
- 23-yard TD drive
- 3/3 22 yards and TD pass
- good field position set up by big defensive play -- fumble recovered by Stewart Bradley
Guess what? Those numbers are awfully similar. Both QBs looked good.
Kolb's play fell apart in the drives that followed when protection broke down.
Skelton didn't have a chance to fall apart. He would have had more time had the defense not allowed a 14-play scoring drive that ate almost all the rest of the second quarter's time.
The ensuing drives Kolb led make the game performance by both an "apples to oranges" comparison.
This is why Skelton needs the same type of game situation against the Titans. While he looks like he is ahead, what happens if he and Kolb do the same thing, only in reversed roles? Then we are back to "toss up" status.
I can say this. If Skelton leads multiple good offensive drives and Kolb looks equally inconsistent as he has so far in mostly limited time in the preseason, then I'm all for Skelton being named the regular season starter. As you will read in another of my posts, I believe that Ken Whisenhunt has mishandled the QB situation and has a big hand in making the organization look foolish, but look there for my thoughts on that (publishing Monday afternoon). Regardless, if Skelton looks on Thursday for multiple drives like he did in his one drive on Friday, you would have to think that he seals the deal.
In the end, just know that the decision isn't all done...yet.
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