If you would have told me back at the beginning of August that would be the case in early December, I would have said, “Uh oh.” But this is where the Cards sit, a season off the rails, record-wise, and even though coach Ken Whisenhunt was basically pushed into this situation because of circumstances, I agree with many that this is the best decision to make.
We’ll see what Skelton brings to a full game. This isn’t about two throws down the field after coming into a game late, like Skelton completed last week against the Rams. This is a whole game, and more importantly, a whole game for which the opponent can prep.
The upside to Skelton? His arm strength is impressive. And I do like his mental makeup, at least from what I can see. As I have mentioned before, he tends to be even-keeled (and sounds it). He said today he usually doesn’t get nervous. The downside? Well, besides the fact he hasn’t done it, the lack of work he’s had with his fellow starters is glaring. As the third-stringer, his work with the main offensive players has basically been this week. Larry Fitzgerald was even absent today attending his grandfather’s funeral, so that’s one less day of work.
Undoubtedly, how Skelton performs will be Sunday’s story. From the Cardinals’ perspective, at least.
— Remember the last time the Cardinals faced a team that had just undergone a coaching change game week? It was late in 2007, when the Atlanta Falcons, their season trashed right before it began when Michael Vick was nailed for dogfighting charges, had coach Bobby Petrino walk out on them. The Falcons were a mess when they came to Arizona, yet took the Cards to overtime before Arizona pulled out a 30-27 victory.
The Falcons were stubborn that day. Wondering if the Broncos will play as inspired.
— Defensive lineman Alan Branch was fined $10,000 for “unnecessarily” hitting Rams quarterback Sam Bradford in the head/neck area. It was on a play late in Sunday’s game, and the Cards weren’t even sure it should have been a penalty.
— With no Josh McDaniels as coach, the Broncos not only lose their head man, but also their playcaller. “That really throws a wrench into it as far as what to expect,” Whisenhunt said.
— While the idea is still to win games, I think Whisenhunt will look more at those younger players – more than already, anyway. He already praised nose tackle Dan Williams for his recent play, and I wouldn’t be surprised if linebacker Daryl Washington is used more often on defense.
— Fitzgerald breaks his tie with Anquan Boldin for most receptions in franchise history (586) with his first Sunday. … He gets one, right?
— When you see the Cardinals having converted just 26.5 percent of third downs this season (opponents are a shade over 40 percent), you have a great understanding of their offensive woes. Of 137 possessions this season, 52 have ended in three plays or less (a three-and-out or a turnover within three plays), or 38 percent. The Cards need to extend drives to have a chance. Of the 147 third downs the Cards have faced, 100 have been for at least six yards.
“We’ve had opportunities to make catches and we haven’t. We’ve had opportunities to move in the pocket and make throws and we haven’t,” Whisenhunt said. “It comes down to be able to make plays. You see it every game. Very frustrating. You know every play or every scheme you call isn’t going to work. Sometimes it comes down to making a play and we haven’t done it.”
— The Cardinals still need one return touchdown this season to give them nine this year and break the NFL record. It’d be nice to do that Sunday. Skelton would probably like the help.
Tags: Alan Branch, Broncos, Dan Williams, Daryl Washington, Falcons, John Skelton, Larry Fitzgerald
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