Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt told Jim Rome on Rome that quarterbacks Kevin Kolb and John Skelton are neck-in-neck in competing for the starting quarterback position for the 2012 season.
“I think the knee-jerk reaction would be to say that it is Kevin’s job to lose,” Whisenhunt said. “But then you have to look at what John Skelton did last year in winning those games when he was in there. So I think you have to give John a lot of credit for winning those games. I certainly have a lot of respect for Kevin and what he’s done in this league and we made the commitment to bring him in to our football team. So it’s going to start out as even as it possibly can, and we’re going to let the best player take it from there."
Whiz is wrong to throw credit Skelton's way for the late-season victories. Yes, it may be true that Skelton was physically in the game for the majority of the Cardinals' wins during their impressive 6-2 winning streak. But if you're giving credit where credit's due, then look no further than defensive coordinator Ray Horton. At the beginning of the season, Horton was unable to utilize his full playbook as a result of the lockout. By the end of the season Horton bewildered opposing teams with his defensive schemes and clinched victories without possessing the ball.
And let's not forget about Arizona's special teams too. As I recall, neither Kolb nor Skelton took a punt 99 yards for a touchdown to win a game.
Whiz' comments about the quarterback competition show that he's using the competition to bring out the best in both quarterbacks.
"So hopefully the competition between both of them will sharpen up one of them enough that he’ll be a good starter for us,” Whiz told Rome.
The fact of the matter is that if Kolb and Skelton are competing for the starting position, then Arizona has already lost the battle. That's not to say the Cardinals won't be competitive in 2012, because with Horton still at the helm, they most certainly will. But by keeping Kolb on the roster when an equally talented quarterback (Skelton) is already rostered, Arizona foreclosed other opportunities to improve their team.
Kolb's contract is counting $4.65 million against Arizona's salary cap in 2012, while Skelton's salary requires a measly $540,500 hit. That equates to over $4 million that could have been used to improve either the offensive line, linebackers and/or defensive backs. Instead, the Cardinals chose to pay Kolb's roster bonus this off-season and keep him around for one more year.
The Arizona brass may be locked in with Kolb after spending so much to acquire him in the first place. And perhaps he is the future of the Arizona organization. But Kolb surely hasn't done anything on the field to justify such a discrepancy in pay.