There aren’t many teams who want to have a quarterback conundrum one week into their season.
Apparently the Arizona Cardinals got the short end of that stick.
On Sunday, the Cards will face the Patriots in Foxboro in one of those every-four-years kind of games. If my math skills haven’t totally escaped me (being honest, most of them have) the last time these teams tussled it was 2008 and Tom Brady wasn’t around. Instead it was Matt Cassel facing off against the dynamic duo of Kurt Warner and Matt Leinart.
My, how things have changed.
Brady is back and as bad-ass as ever (see: nose) while the Cardinals are seemingly playing their most crucial position by ear.
Technically, John Skelton is their starter. But right beyond him (like, thisclose behind) is former Philadelphia Eagle Kevin Kolb. When the Cardinals played the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday, Skelton was first on the field but suffered an injured ankle so Kolb stepped in and threw the game-winning touchdown.
Now, head coach Ken Whisenhunt appears to be in something of a pickle.
If Skelton is healed enough to start on Sunday, does he get the call? Or does the team ride Kolb’s momentum, something they’ll desperately need against a Pats team that is superior to them in all categories?
How does this effect the Patriots’ preparations? Bill Belichick told the media that both players are good, and since the Cardinals have won with both players in the past (however few and far between those wins may have been), the defense will have to be ready for either quarterback’s skill set.
What exactly are those skills? Well, both guys have an affinity for throwing the ball high and hoping a Cards receiver gets under it, so if anything, the defensive backs should be prepared to make an interception or two. It would almost be rude not to, considering last season Kolb and Skelton threw 22 picks between them.
But seriously, either match up should play favorably to the Pats defense. If their run stopping is as up-to-par as it was against the Tennessee Titans last week, Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells won’t have anywhere to go and that puts all the pressure on the quarterback to make something happen.
It’s certainly possible. We’ve seen young, inexperienced quarterbacks on mediocre teams go ham against the Pats in the past (what up, Colt McCoy? How’s that bench feel under your butt?). But that doesn’t appear to be a threatening possibility here.
Personally, I’d like to see Kolb out there, and it seems to be the most likely scenario. For the Pats, I think it’s a favorable match up because he’s fidgety in the pocket and easily flushed out, giving the linebackers a chance to show off. It’s also, however, a place where Kolb could potentially shine. While Jake Locker certainly didn’t look like a future Hall of Famer on Sunday, he showed he’s got some cajones, making a few plays and stringing together a few solid drives against one of the NFL’s best teams. Win or lose, this game could be a game changer for Kolb.
That is, if he gets the start.