Cardinals escape Seahawks’ late rally, no thanks to officials

Kevin Kolb

No one in Arizona had much use for Kevin Kolb during the preseason, but they’re loving him now. Kolb came off the bench when John Skelton was carted off with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals were trailing 16-13 at the time, but Kolb calmly led them down the field and hit Andre Roberts with a six-yard pass to make the score 20-16. It would hold up, but not without some drama.

Seattle drove the ball down inside the five thanks to two pass interference penalties on the Cardinals and a couple of nice plays by Russell Wilson. That’s when all hell threatened to break loose. The Seahawks called a timeout after a Marshawn Lynch run, which the officials granted even though it seemed to everyone else on the planet that they didn’t have any timeouts left. They had called two before Doug Baldwin was banged up while dropping what could have been the game-winning pass in the end zone.

The officials explained that the Seahawks had a timeout left because the clock stopped on the incompletion, which is an incorrect interpretation of the rules. When a player is injured in the last two minutes of the game, there is supposed to be a timeout charged to his team. That should have led to the referees ignoring their timeout requests, but it didn’t.

Luckily for the league, it became something of a moot point since the Cardinals held on the final three plays as Wilson fired incomplete three times to end the contest. The refs had a fine weekend overall, but it would have been a big story if the last game of the afternoon was decided in part by an officiating blunder. Read more…

NFC teams that will struggle the most in 2012

Kevin Kolb Injures His Chest Against the Saints

Succeeding in the NFL is difficult: It takes the right combination of talent and effort, as well as a little bit of luck. It’s relatively easy to pick the teams that are going to find success in the conference. Teams like the 49ers and Packers are a lock to win ten or more games and make the playoffs, but for other teams in the NFC the mountain is going to be a much more difficult one to climb. These are three of those teams.

Arizona Cardinals

In this year’s Hall of Fame Game against the New Orleans Saints, the Cardinals trotted out Kevin Kolb. He promptly threw an interception, completed one pass and went down with a chest injury. In their next preseason game, this time against the Chiefs, Kolb and John Skelton combined to complete four out of eleven passes with one interception.

This quarterback issue has been Arizona’s problem ever since Kurt Warner retired, and the team just has not found a way to properly address it. The trade of Kevin Kolb might have provided some relief, but Kolb has largely failed to impress. Skelton is serviceable as a backup, but he doesn’t look like a starting quarterback.

Combine this with a lack of depth – the offense has little to offer besides Larry Fitzgerald and Beanie Wells – and it’s easy to see why Arizona is going to struggle. Ken Whisenhunt is a fine coach. The proper pieces just aren’t in place to be able to execute any sort of game plan. Read more here…

Knocking out Kolb would have netted Ellis 1,500

2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game

When defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis dragged down Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb, causing him to leave the game with what turned out to be a bruised chest muscle, Ellis accomplished a $1,500 “knockout” in the now-defunct vernacular of former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.  (If Kolb had returned, it would have simply been a $1,000 “cart-off.”)

It’s a great opportunity for the league to use its various media platforms to send a clear message to all media and fans that this is precisely the kind of play for which the Saints were punished:  A clean, legal hit that resulted in an opponent leaving the game.

The fact that the league didn’t pounce on the opportunity to let us all know that this is exactly what the league punished the Saints for makes us even more curious as to whether the league hopes to avoid the debate that would arise from punishing teams and players for giving other players a little extra cash for simply doing their jobs.

Ellis is paid to chase down quarterbacks and to apply clean, legal hits to them.  Ellis has a clear incentive to knock the starting quarterback out of the game.  (Although in this specific case the Saints may have been better off facing Kolb instead of John Skelton.)  Throwing a little extra money to Ellis — the NFL equivalent of the helmet sticker — doesn’t create any less incentive to hit the quarterback and hope he can’t continue.

The league defines such incentives as bounties, even if the incentive to apply clean, legal hits in a  way that induces injury nevertheless exists. Read more here…

Cardinals players gravitating toward Skelton, not Kolb

As John Skelton and Kevin Kolb prepare to square off in a training camp competition to become the Cardinals’ starting quarterback, one report suggests that the locker room is rooting for Skelton.

Former NFL linebacker Willie McGinest, who now works at NFL Network, said on Total Access that he has friends on the Cardinals and that they’ve told him they prefer Skelton over Kolb.
“Talking to some of my buddies down there, it seems like they’re gravitating toward Skelton a little bit more,” McGinest said.

McGinest suggested that other players in the locker room admire the way Skelton has worked his way up from being a 2010 fifth-round pick to having a chance to start, whereas Kolb had a big contract and the starting job handed to him last year.

“He’s a big quarterback, he’s tough in the pocket, he has a carefree attitude, he really doesn’t have any pressure,” McGinest said of Skelton. “He didn’t get a huge contract like Kolb did, and he’s one of those guys that can command a huddle, can come in there, and guys just like his attitude.”  Read more here…


Kurt Warner: Kolb will start, but needs to learn Whisenhunt’s offense

Dallas Cowboys v Arizona CardinalsFormer Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner had three good seasons playing in Ken Whisenhunt’s offense in Arizona, and he says Kevin Kolb can have plenty of good seasons playing in that offense, too. It’s just that Kolb has to learn the offense first.

Warner said on NFL Network that Kolb is expected to win the starting job in training camp despite having a disappointing season in 2011. The problem with Kolb last season, Warner says, is that Kolb never really grasped Whisenhunt’s offense.
“I think this is going to play out with Kevin Kolb becoming the starter for the Arizona Cardinals,” Warner said. “When I talk to people in the organization and what I’ve seen, everybody believes that Kevin has everything you need to be a starter in the NFL. He’s smart, he works hard, he’s got accuracy, he’s got mobility to run around and make plays, which we saw him do a number of times last year. The biggest problem was, the offense in Arizona was completely different than what he ran in Philly, and it was tough for him to pick up that offense, and the nuances of that offense, and he really struggled with that last year, never got fully comfortable.”
Kolb is now getting a full offseason in Arizona, and Warner said he should beat out John Skelton in training camp and become the starter. Read more here…

Kevin Kolb and John Skelton alternating reps for Arizona


Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt stated the quarterback competition would “start out as even as it possibly can.”

Whisenhunt proved to be a man of his word as Kevin Kolb and John Skelton are both getting equal chances at OTA’s.

Skelton took the snaps with the first team at Tuesday’s OTA and Kolb led the offense on Wednesday. You can’t read much into performance from OTAs, but you can see a lot about a team’s intentions and the Cardinals clearly intend to have that open competition for the starting quarterback job.

That’s certainly not what anyone expected when the Cardinals traded for Kolb and gave him a big new contract, including a $7 million roster bonus this year.  Read more here…