Aug. 17, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback (19) John Skelton in the second half against the Oakland Raiders during a preseason game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
In 2010 Coach Ken Whisenhunt did something he had never done before, he drafted a quarterback. While John Skelton was only a fifth round draft pick, many believed the pick was a good one. Skelton had all the desired features, big size at 6'6" 244lbs, a cannon of an arm that can make all the NFL throws and three and a half years of starting experience. Skelton fit the profile of a QB Coach Whisenhunt had coached before, Ben Roethlisberger.
With a QB debate raging (eerily similar to the one going on now) during Skeltons' first season, he had no chance of starting. Coming from a small school there was much for him to learn and two veterans ahead of him on the roster. Funny how things played out.Matt Leinart was unceremoniously cut, Derek Anderson was terrible and Max Hall, despite his "moxy," wasn't able to get the job done either. Skelton came in and looked like a small school rookie completing 47.6 percent of his passes for two TDs, two INTs and two fumbles. While his stats didn't "wow" anybody, his poise in the pocket did. Fans knew that Skelton had a chance at being good.
Entering 2011 and a lockout shortened off season. The Cardinals made a move for Kevin Kolb in hopes he would solve the teams QB dilemma. In his first game as a Cardinal he did well and helped the team beat a surprisingly tough Carolina Panthers team.
Sadly for Cardinals fans and Kolb, the team struggled across the board losing the next six games. The entire team was playing poorly. Things got worse for Kolb when he got turf toe against the Baltimore Ravens and even worse when he was concussed two games later against the San Fransisco 49ers in the first quarter of the game.
Kolb's injury opened the door for John Skelton who took advantage, even if at times it was really ugly in how he did it.
Skelton started at a great time, the defense was finally starting to figure out Ray Hortons' defensive schemes. Skelton also had a knack for playing terrible for three quarters and pulling out a win in the fourth. The defense kept it close and Skelton closed the door, helping the team to a 6-2 record over the last eight games of the season. While his stats were nothing impressive, he found ways to win.
Now it's 2012 and the Kolb/Skelton debate has raged.
Whether you agree or not, at the beginning of the season it was Kevin Kolb's job to lose. Kolb had his struggles last season but many believed he deserved a full off season before judgment was passed on him. Many, including myself, thought Kolb would easily take the job this season. Many, including myself, were very wrong.
Against the odds, a fifth round quarter back out of a tiny school impressed Whisenhunt enough that it got the head coach to open up a QB debate for the 2012 season. The fact that Whisenhunt just gave Kolb the reigns last season and now was making 2012 a battle is testimate to Skelton's growth. He has flaws like any young player, but so far he is beating out a five year veteran who at the beginning of the QB battle seemed to have the deck stacked in his favor.
Right now the trade for Kolb is looking like a bad deal, but if it has done anything it has helped the "cream rise to the crop" as Ron Wolfley likes to emphatically say. Skelton is currently leading the QB debate. Many have said that Whisenhunt has mishandled the QB position, whether that is true or not, the Cardinals head coach bucked the trend of just starting the $60 million dollar guy and make it possible for a fifth round pick to win the job.
Hopefully this week against a good Tennessee Titans team John Skelton will continue his ascension and bring some light to a increasingly pessimistic Cardinals fan base by out-right winning the QB position.