John Skelton has injected life into a moribund season for the Cardinals, leading them to two straight wins. (Howard Smith/US Presswire)
You don't have to look far to see why there are questions brewing about Arizona's future at the quarterback position. Kevin Kolb, the Cardinals' big offseason acquisition, has a 1-6 record this season; John Skelton, his injury replacement, is 2-0.
Is that enough for Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt to ride with Skelton once Kolb fully recovers from foot injuries? Luckily for Whisenhunt, he doesn't have to make that decision yet:
"I understand the point of discussion. Where we are right now, it doesn't matter," Whisenhunt said Monday, according to the Associated Press. "Until we get Kevin back out there and practicing and we can assess where he is after having missed a couple of weeks, you can't even talk about that, to be honest with you.''
But the delay could end all the drama. If Skelton leads Arizona past 8-1 San Francisco on the road Sunday, one week after scoring a victory in Philadelphia, is there really any way Whisenhunt could go back to Kolb?
The only thing that could tip the scales back in Kolb's favor in that scenario is money. Arizona not only traded Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick to Philadelphia for Kolb this summer, but also forked over a six-year, $65 million deal once Kolb arrived. Skelton, on the other hand, is making $405,000 in the second year of his four-year rookie deal.
The Cardinals made a huge commitment to Kolb, one that could force them to ride it out with him, no matter how Skelton performs.
It could present Arizona with a pretty tough predicament, given the results Skelton has produced thus far. His 315 yards passing and three touchdowns against the Eagles were both team-best numbers for the season. And Skelton has also improved the numbers of Arizona's real franchise player, Larry Fitzgerald.
In two outing with Skelton as his QB, Fitzgerald is averaging nearly a catch per game more than he did with Kolb (5.5 to 4.8) and he's found the end zone three times already, compared to just twice over the Cardinals' first seven games.
You could also make the case that Skelton simply has looked more comfortable than Kolb -- definitely better than he did last season in his five appearances.
Even with an upset win at San Francisco, though, the Cardinals still would face near-insurmountable odds to get back in the playoff race. That means the goal for the remainder of the season should be to set this team up for 2012 and beyond.
Would three solid games from Skelton -- let alone three wins -- be enough to redirect the Cardinals' course away from Kolb?
It's hard to imagine Arizona completely burying Kolb just seven starts after deciding he was their future at quarterback. If nothing else, Skelton's recent play has shown the Cardinals that they have a sturdy backup for Kolb, in the event of another injury or a continued string of mediocre play.