There is no arguing that the Cardinals have definitely had their fair share of struggles since Kurt Warner's retirement following the 2009 season. In each of the past three seasons since then, the Cards have failed to end the year with a +.500 record, leading to the firing of former coach Ken Whisenhunt.
Part, if not most, of the reason Whisenhunt was fired was because of his inability to evaluate the quarterback position. In both 2010 and 2012, the two worst seasons of his tenure, the losing records are directly correlated to the failure of the quarterbacks. In 2010, those quarterbacks were Matt Leinart (who was cut before the regular season began), Derek Anderson, Max Hall and John Skelton. In 2012, Skelton was back along with Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer.
Each season ended with a 5-11 record, but which one saw worse QB play? Let's dig into the numbers a bit and find out.
In 2010, the three quarterbacks of Anderson, Hall and Skelton passed for a combined 3,097 yards and 49.77 completion percentage. Their combined touchdown to interception ratio was 10:18.
In 2012, Skelton, Hoyer, Kolb and Lindley passed for 3,383 yards and a combined completion percentage of 55.6%. Their TD-INT ratio was 11:21, with Kolb having eight touchdowns passes to only three interceptions, boosting the numbers dramatically.
As we can see in both years, the completion rates were below league average. It is impossible to factor in how much the offensive line played a role in those completion percentages (which they did), but in both years, we do know that the line was subpar in pass blocking efficiency. Pro Football Focus actually has the Cards giving up more pressures on the QB in 2012 (213) than in 2010 (181), despite the numbers being slightly better in 2012.
We also have to take into consideration how much Kolb skews the stats. He played in a total of six games, but only took 230 passing snaps this past season. In that time, he made the whole chart look better by taking less sacks due to his mobility and being able to complete passes at a higher rate than the other quarterbacks. So with him, overall, the numbers do favor the 2012 season.
Comparing the quarterbacks strictly based on the eye test, there really wasn't a huge difference between 2010 Derek Anderson and 2012 John Skelton. Both signal callers consistently overthrew their receivers and, although they targeted guys like Larry Fitzgerald often enough, they couldn't seem to get the ball in his hands.
This may be the most telling stat of all, via the Arizona Republic's Kent Somers:
Larry Fitzgerald hasn't scored in 6 games. longest streak of career. previous was 5, in '10. #azcardinals— Kent Somers (@kentsomers) December 26, 2012
As we know, given that Larry Fitzgerald has been the best receiver on the team for many years, he becomes a pretty good barometer for how the quarterbacks have played.
So which year was actually worse? You can make a claim for either one, but I am still going with 2010. Watching Anderson and Hall was an embarrassment and the fact that we actually believed Skelton could have potential for the future is somewhat alarming. Adding Kolb into the mix in 2012 gives this past season the edge, but only by a bit.
What do you think? Which year produced worse quarterback play for the Arizona Cardinals? Leave your opinion in the comments section below. Hopefully with Bruce Arians on board, this is not a column I can get used to creating.