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An Opinion On The John Skelton Debut (And Other Random Cardinals Thoughts)

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The John Skelton era is here. All hail John Skelton. Or something.

I started the weekend thinking I was going to produce a top five Suns draft busts column for you, due to the Earl Clark trade rumors, but decided I'd instead save that for when he actually gets dumped by the team. Either way, it's not going to be pretty for Mr. Clark.

Left without a column, I started thinking about whether or not I could muster a whole piece on the debut of John Skelton. I decided that I couldn't, so instead paired it with a bunch of other random thoughts.

The lazy man's writing device -- got to love it. Not all of us can be as prolific as Seth Pollack.  

So on that John Skelton debut -- put simply, it just was what it was. The world of football isn't going to change forever, nothing about it was terribly memorable and now it's over.

Hell, statistically his debut wasn't even as good as Max Hall's (52 QB rating against a 65 QB rating). I guess what I'm saying here is I'd like people to hold off on the same garbage intangibles columns that they printed after Max Hall's debut against the Saints (coincidentally in the Cardinals' last win).  

As fifth round raw rookie quarterbacks from Fordham go, Skelton's 15/37 for 146 with no touchdowns, interceptions, or fumbles performance was just about what you'd expect. But as NFL quarterbacks go, it was a well below average performance.

Look at this line from a mystery quarterback from two weeks ago: 16/35 (45%), 196 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception, QB rating of 51.6. You know who put that up? Well, let's just say he takes this stuff seriously.

Obviously it's all ultimately about perspective. When you have a guy like Derek Anderson putting up those numbers in his sixth season, it's the definition of hopelessness, but when a young guy does the same, it inspires positive thoughts in a frustrated fan base. 

Don't get me wrong -- Skelton had a few good flashes. His accuracy isn't great, but you can tell he definitely has more touch on his ball than Anderson ever will while having similar arm strength. He also showed some of the speed that helped him run the fastest QB 40 yard dash time at the NFL Draft Combine and popped a few Bronco defenders while running and blocking.

But obviously he was far from perfect. The Cardinals receivers didn't exactly help him out in the first half by dropping five balls, but in the second half, Skelton was 6/16 all on his own while sailing passes and throwing behind receivers on several occasions.

The roughly 700 turnovers by the Broncos, 100+ yard day from Tim Hightower, and the herculean effort from Jay Feely had everything to do with the Cardinals win, while Skelton simply avoided giving the game away like Max Hall probably would have done.

Does this mean the Cardinals have solved their QB problems? Probably not, but we're probably going to get three more games to judge this dude.

All I ask is that we don't let the hyperbole get out of control. Oh no. It appears I've not written this column soon enough. I bring you the twelfth paragraph of Dan Bickley's column about Skelton's starting debut.

"John is like emotionless, man," Larry Fitzgerald said.

That's a good trait for a quarterback. A guy named Montana was like that.


You know who else was emotionless? Tim Couch. I know everyone has to fill column/air space in the local media right now, but can we please avoid the hype columns? Haven't we learned? Let's just sit back and watch Skelton try to play.

Other random thoughts:

In case you haven't seen this anywhere else, the Cardinals are still alive for the NFC West crown. What has to happen? Well, it's really quite simple:

  • The Cardinals need to win out (@Carolina, v. Dallas, @San Francisco)
  • San Francisco needs to lose the rest of their games (@San Diego, @St. Louis, @Arizona) -- they'd technically finish behind the Cardinals if they lost two of three, but St. Louis can't win again.
  • Seattle (v. Atlanta, @Tampa Bay) and St. Louis (v. Kansas City, v. San Francisco) need to lose their next two games each. And that leads to my favorite scenario.
  • When St. Louis and Seattle play each other at Qwest Field in Week 17, they need to tie. You read that right -- they need to tie. So if the first 10 things on this list happen then all we need is what would be the first tie of the NFL season to put John Skelton in the playoffs. Might as well buy your playoff tickets now.

Though Denver is obviously an absolutely wretched team and did everything they could to gift the Cardinals their fourth win of the season, this was still one of those wins that causes that little bit of "what if" in the back of my mind.

  • As pitiful as this team played during its seven-game losing streak, what if they didn't blow a two touchdown lead to Minnesota with five minutes left and what if they could have held a fourth quarter lead against Tampa Bay? That'd put them at 6-7 and tied for the top of the division. Scary.
  • To be completely fair, I am contractually obligated to mention that they also stole a game from the Raiders when Sebastian Janikowski missed a chip shot field goal and may have lost to the Rams if Steve Breaston was unable to strip Clifton Ryan, but that's far less fun to suppose with.
  • It's like former Pee Wee Hockey great Charlie Conway said when his coach Gordon Bombay bemoaned missing a penalty shot by just a quarter inch after it hit off the post: "Yeah, but a quarter inch the other way and you would have missed completely." Deep, Charlie, deep.

How unbelievably obvious was it that Daryl Washington was heading for his Leon Lett moment when he intercepted a Kyle Orton pass late in the fourth quarter and held the ball far away from his body from about 10 yards outside the end zone?

  • I'm pleased that it ultimately didn't matter since the game was a blowout and Darnell Dockett recovered the ball in the end zone after Broncos running back Lance Ball knocked it loose, but why the hell are people still doing that stuff? Wrap the ball up, get into the end zone and then do some stupid stuff.
  • I now have a strange feeling that Washington will never do that again.

For the first time in what I'm pretty sure was the 2010 season, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie played a competent half of football. He actually broke on a few Kyle Orton passes and made some of the plays that made him a Pro Bowler in 2009.  Again, I realize we're talking about playing the Broncos here, but it's at least a relatively positive sign and hopefully something he can build off the remainder of the season.

That's all I can muster. Now I'm off to determine which hacky holiday sports-writing pun is worse: columns around Thanksgiving about what people should be thankful for or Christmas sports-writing that incorporates the 12 Days of Christmas or opens a column talking about how "Christmas came early for (fill in team here)."