John Skelton, a 5th-round draft pick who took the unlikely route from El Paso to Fordham to the NFL, is the starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt expounded his decision to go with Skelton over Kevin Kolb.
Skelton and Kolb had waged a long competition for the job over offseason workouts and through the preseason.
“I’m not going to get into the specifics of everything that was concerned but it’s correct to say at about that point going forward we feel like the QB that gives us the best chance to win at the moment is John Skelton,” Whisenhunt recounted.
Skelton is in his 3rd season with Arizona after being written in the 5th round out of Fordham. Skelton, who grew up in El Paso, Texas, stands 6-foot-6 and has a cannon arm but infrequently, struggles with accuracy.
“This is truly the 1st offseason he’s had to work,” Whisenhunt recounted, “and I have seen progress from him. He is a guy that is believed in himself. Sometimes he’s shown he could make plays. Occasionally he’s looked like a young QB.”
The Cardinals made the choice in spite of their substantial investment in Kolb, who was acquired just before last season in a trade that sent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2nd-round draft pick to Philadelphia.
The Cardinals then signed Kolb to a 5-year, $63.5 million deal extension with $21 million guaranteed.
Kolb got given the starter’s job when he arrived in the desert, but after a season-opening win over Carolina, the Cardinals went into a 6-game slip. When he went down with a turf toe injury, Skelton took over, as he did when Kolb was sidelined with what turned out to be a season-ending concussion.
Skelton was 5-2 as a starter last season (6-2 if the San Francisco game, when he came in after Kolb was hurt on the 1st series, is considered). In his last 10 games, 9 as a starter, he has directed 6 game-winning drives in the 4th quarter. But his across-the-board statistical data have been lackluster. Last season, he completed 54.9 percent of his passes for 1,913 yards and 11 touchdowns with 14 interceptions. Sports scores
“It’s a weight off my shoulders, I think,” Skelton said. “You know, the speculation and waiting is over. But at the very same time I think there’s another weight placed on. Now you’ve got to move forward as a starter and regard it that way.”
He announced he always thought Whisenhunt would give him a fair shot at the job, in spite of the franchise’s major investment in Kolb.
“As soon as the season ended last year and coach Whisenhunt took me in his office and asserted, ‘We’re going to offer you a chance to battle for the starting job,’ I knew he was going to be a person of his word,” Skelton said.
Kolb saw more game action that Skelton in the preseason, though each quarterback got two starts. Kolb completed 22 of 37 passes (59.5%) for one touchdown with 3 interceptions. Skelton was for 14 for 25 (56%) for 131 yards, also with a TD pass and 3 picks.