Heading into their 4th preseason game, the Cardinals still have not announced a starting quarterback. However, they have announced that John Skelton will start and play into the 3rd quarter this week. The Cardinals played in the Hall of Fame game to start the Preseason so they have 5 Preseason games instead of 4, so this 4th preseason game will essentially be used like their 3rd preseason game.
Typically, the 3rd preseason game is your dress rehearsal for the regular season. Teams have typically decided all of their starters by this point and will play them into the 2nd half. Though the Cardinals have not officially named Skelton the starter, he will essentially be doing everything a starting quarterback normally would this week and, barring a complete meltdown during the game, he should be their week 1 starter.
Skelton hasn’t exactly set the world on fire with his play this Preseason, completing 10 of 15 for 90 yards, a touchdown, and an interception, but he’s basically won the job by default over Kolb, who has continued to make the Cardinals look foolish with his play this season. Kolb went 3-6 as a starter last season, 2-6 in games where he led the team in quarterback snaps, after the Cardinals gave up a 2nd round pick and a starting cornerback for him and gave him a large contract last offseason. This offseason, they kept him and paid him his 7 million dollar bonus, rather than cutting him, and Kolb responded by going 5 of 15 for 47 yards and a pick this Preseason. Now it looks like he will become the league’s most expensive backup quarterback.
Skelton was actually the inferior of the two quarterbacks last season. He led 100 drives last season and the Cardinals scored 16 touchdowns and 11 field goals (129 points, 1.29 points per drive) on those 100 drives. Kolb led 91 drives, leading to 20 touchdowns and 6 field goals (138 points, 1.52 points per drive). Kolb also outplayed him statistically. He completed 146 of 253 (57.7%) for 1955 yards (7.7 YPA), 9 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. Skelton completed just 151 for 275 (54.9%) for 1913 yards (7.0 YPA), 11 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. Skelton did rush for 128 yards as opposed to 65 for Kolb and took just 23 sacks as opposed to 30 for Kolb.
Skelton was 6-2 in the 8 games he played the majority of the snaps, while Kolb was 2-6, but Skelton had the luxury of playing most of his games supported by better defensive play. In Skelton’s 8 games, the Cardinals allowed 19.0 points per game and in Kolb’s they allowed 24.5. All that being said, neither of them played very well at all and Skelton definitely outplayed him this offseason and this preseason. Either way the Cardinals figure to struggle mightily in 2012. Kolb’s 1.52 points per drive was equal to Washington’s last season and they ranked 22nd, while Skelton’s 1.29 was between Denver’s (1.38) and Indianapolis’ (1.24). They ranked 27th and 28th respectively last season.
For fantasy purposes, you can do a lot better than Skelton as a QB2. In 11 career starts, he’s thrown for 2248 yards, 10 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, while rushing for 153 yards. Over 16 games, that’s 3270 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, 20 interceptions, and 223 rushing yards. He was pulled in two of those games and has thrown for 2057 yards, 9 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, while rushing for 144 yards. Over 16 games, that’s 3657 passing yards, 16 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions, while rushing for 256 yards. He’s got a good receiving corps, but those mediocre numbers are what you can expect if he plays all 16 games. Plus, there’s no guarantee he won’t be benched midseason or anything like that.
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