John Skelton may have played a bigger role in the Cardinals' loss than the box score would indicate.
By all indications, John Skelton had a great game on Sunday. He only threw one interception, he had a timely TD pass, his completion percentage was up; it was a good day.
But when you delve deeper into the stats, watching the game as I did, you may realize that Skelton may have contributed more to the demise of the Cardinals than the aid of them. His decision making was not always great, many of his throws were inaccurate, his stats were padded heavily towards the end of the game, he was the reason for at least 2 or 3 of the team's 7 sacks allowed and, most of all, he could not lead the Cards to a victory against the always tough Minnesota Vikings.
When Skelton had receivers open at the chains, he often missed with some very errant throws. If he did hit them in stride, it came at the high risk of being intercepted. In all actuality, he probably should have given up more than the pick-six he surrendered. Throwing in to double or even triple coverage has become part of Skelton's makeup. It is also very noticeable as to the drop off from Kevin Kolb's ability to throw on the run and scramble to Skelton's. His mobility is limited, to put it nicely.
The Cardinals' third down efficiency wasn't great either, standing at a mere 5/14. Skelton struggled to find open receivers and when he didn't he held on to the ball for far too long given the offensive line personnel he has to work with. As I mentioned earlier, at least two or three of the sacks he took were caused by him holding on to the ball when he should have thrown it away.
While 262 yards through the air and a TD looks good on his resume, Cardinals fans that watched the game know that much of that game in crunch time, which is where Skelton seems to perform at his best. That is both a blessing and a haunting for the Cardinals, as he tends to struggle up until that point. By the time the team gets to within striking range, the game is near over.
Skelton must improve on his decision making and taking advantage of turnovers and red zone opportunities. If not, the offense will be stuck in this quagmire while he is under center. The defense cannot pick up all the slack that he seems to create.
To me, the Cardinals sorely miss Kevin Kolb at this juncture. He has shown that not only can he make big plays in crunch time like Skelton, but that when he gets time to throw the ball, he can do it in all four quarters. Consistency is the biggest thing Skelton lacks and he showed us that on Sunday.
Can he turn it all around before Kolb is healthy and ready to reclaim the starting job? I am not so sure.