Should Cardinals Make a Play For a Quarterback Upgrade?
The writing is on the wall. Kevin Kolb was OK as the starter and the Arizona Cardinals were making it happen enough on offense for their elite defense to win some games. But now he’s out for up to six weeks with a serious rib injury, and possibly longer.
And re-enters the guy who originally got hurt, John Skelton, who has appeared ineffective and almost dazed. You thought Kolb looked sorry behind the Cardinals’ weak offensive line, taking all of those sacks? Wait until this rock of a man plays a few games and makes Kolb look like Fran Tarkenton.
But back to that whole “writing on the wall” thing; this team has to make a change at quarterback – and fast.
As they stand, they’re sifting through mediocrity at the position, don’t have much of a running game, and have dropped two straight games, because of these facts. In both of those games, the defense did it’s job. They gave up 17 points to the Rams and 16 to the Bills, yet the offense scored a combined 16 in the past two weeks.
What was once a hot and inspiring 4-0 start is starting to look like an old, all too familiar Arizona Cardinals story. Now is the time for Ken Whisenhunt to realize that he really has something special in this team. His defense is playing lights out. If he had a better offense to pitch it, this might be the best team in football. And no one would have seen it coming.
Now Whisenhunt needs to do something else no one saw coming – make a move for a quarterback upgrade. I’m not here to tell you who, how, or where, but why: because Skelton, Kolb six weeks from now or Ryan Lindley aren’t going to get it done.
The “next man up” mantra won’t cut it this time. Just look at the Houston Texans in 2011. Sure, T.J. Yates got them their first ever playoff win, but then they were done. That Texans team was a true Super Bowl contender, and two weeks into the playoffs they were no more.
That’s the Cardinals this season, if they could even be so lucky to reach the playoffs. With Skelton at quarterback for the next six weeks, they can’t be even close to sure. After all, AZ holds a three-way tie for first in the NFC West with the 49ers and Seahawks, while the Rams are only one game back at 3-3.
So, what’s the move? I can’t pull the trigger or predict what comes next, but here are some realistic options. They’re not all pretty, not all sane, and not all totally realistic, but they might arguably all be better than just standing pat and hoping for the best:
1. Kurt Warner/Brett Favre – Names Ring a Bell?
I know, we thought we were done with Favre, but is it really that crazy? I personally think he’d have something left to offer, especially considering his body hasn’t taken a beating in two years and he’d only have to play 10 regular season games before the playoffs. He’s 43 now and probably has no interest in another comeback, but if I didn’t like my quarterback and the passing game was the biggest thing keeping my team from being a Super Bowl contender, I’d give his agent a call.
As for Warner, I think he’d have something left, too. He’s not mobile and he’s also over 40 and has no plans on a comeback, but he actually played for the Cardinals. If he felt they were good enough to get to the Super Bowl again this year, don’t you think he’d at least entertain the idea? Probably not, but you know you (Cardinals fans) are salivating over the possibility.
2. Donovan McNabb – Washed Up?
Is McNabb washed up? Probably, but everyone and their brother knows he still wants to play. He was Captain Checkdown in Washington and Minnesota, but perhaps he’d be more effective with a guy by the name of Larry Fitzgerald to throw to. I’d take Favre over McNabb, personally, but McNabb is at least younger and can move around better than any of Arizona’s quarterbacks.
3. David Garrard – Healthy Enough?
If Garrard is healthy, he shoots up to the top of this list. He gets a lot of crap, but he’s actually a solid quarterback who takes good care of the football, is mobile, and can make big plays. He’s not what he once was, but he’d keep plays alive behind AZ’s terrible offensive line and he’d be sure to get the ball to Fitzgerald on a regular basis. A couple of weeks of Skelton stinking up the joint could get Garrard a call, provided his back and knees are good to go.
4. Jeff Garcia – Scrub City?
If you hate the mentioning of Favre and McNabb, you really hate the mentioning of Garcia. However, despite being over 40 and not doing much in the league in the past few years, the guy does seem to want to continue playing. Not only that, but he’s still plenty mobile and has proven in his career to be an effective game manager. On paper it sounds crazy, but he might actually still be an upgrade.
While we’re in scrub city, why not at least think about Jake Delhomme, Kerry Collins, Jake Plummer, Drew Bledsoe and Jeff George. Nah.
5. Trade Bait?
There are four quarterbacks out there that make sense to trade for. No, Tarvaris Jackson isn’t one of them. I think Colt McCoy, Rex Grossman, Jason Campbell and Kyle Orton all would be an upgrade over Skelton and would give the Cardinals a better chance to succeed.
Grossman is erratic as heck, but he’s been to a Super Bowl and played in 2011. The Cardinals aren’t getting to the SB with him, but he’d make them a little bit better. Currently Washington’s #3 QB, he’d probably be available for next to nothing.
Campbell is big and mobile with a good arm, but the Bears like him a lot and they went through hell when Jay Cutler went down last year. They won’t trade him. As for McCoy, he’s also mobile and has some nice potential, and should be available at the right price. Is he for sure an upgrade? Maybe, maybe not. He’s that classic risk vs. reward guy. Lastly you have Orton, who is a very underrated game manager. I think the Cardinals would be a much more reliable team if he was under center. He won’t make a ton of mistakes, and he might even win a game or two all by himself.
The final guy, who I have yet to mention, is Tim Tebow. The Jets say they won’t trade him, but what if the Cardinals decide that he has something and he’d make their offense change for the better? If they did, perhaps they’d ship off a cornerback or a defensive lineman to help shore up New York’s sketchy run defense or injury-riddled secondary. Unlikely, yes. Improbable, absolutely.
In fact, all of these are unlikely. They all have about .00001% chance of even existing as rumors. But they’re the options and Arizona can’t possibly just stick with Skelton or cross their fingers that Kolb comes in and magically saves the day at the end of the year. Or maybe that’s exactly what they’re hoping for/doing.
But if that’s the case, they’re in for a rude awakening. And in that awakening, Ken Whisenhunt is going to realize that had he made a move, his team might be pretty darn good on both sides of the ball, rather than just plod their way through the season and miss the playoffs.