Not to be outdone by Pete Carroll in the NFC West, Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt turned a blind eye to a highly paid quarterback and opted to go with a less lucrative option that won the competition during the preseason. Carroll opted for Russell Wilson over Matt Flynn in Seattle, and on Friday Whisenhunt announced that John Skelton will start for the Arizona Cardinals, not Kevin Kolb.
Conveniently, the interesting picks at quarterback will square off with one another as the Cardinals and Seahawks meet in Week 1. Which big-contract quarterback do you see getting on the field first this year, Kolb or Flynn?
Ken Whisenhunt joined XTRA Sports in Phoenix with Bickley and MJ to discuss Skelton’s reaction to winning the competition, the determining factors, Skelton’s pocket presence and accuracy, Kolb’s role going forward and game-planning for Russell Wilson.
How did John Skelton react when you told him he’d be the starting quarterback?:
“I think that I’ve seen John show emotion, at times, probably because people don’t get to see that when you wear a helmet. But yes, you could definitely tell he was excited. I think the point where he is now, he understands the responsibility that comes with that position. And I’m interested to see how he handles it going forward. I have confidence that he’ll be ready for this and we expect him to have success.”
What was the deciding factor in the race?:
“There’s a lot of things. I don’t want to go through them point by point. But, ultimately, the bottom line is you’ve got to go with the player that you feel gives you the best chance to win right now. And that’s what we did. … I’m glad that we have a game at home against Seattle. We know that Seattle’s going to be a challenge, but they were a challenge when we played them last year in the last game of the season and we found a way to prevail.”
How much did his pocket presence help with your decision?:
“I think it’s more than just one thing or two things. … I think that there’s things both of them have done well and things you’d like to see better out of both of them. That’s the nature at a number of different positions. … This one is a big decision because he handles the ball every time. We’re very comfortable with this decision.”
How do you get John to be more accurate in his passing?:
“I think that John’s made progress with that … as far as his footwork and how he moves in the pocket. I think that he’s improving with that. You may not see the results when you’re looking at a game or only at one practice, but when you look at it over the course of time, you do see improvement. … Your right, he’s missed some throws, and those are the things that we’ve got to be able to get him better at, and he’s been working at it. I think more of it is about his decision process than it is the actual mechanics. When he knows what he’s looking at and is sure about his read, he’s accurate with his throws.”
What do you see Kevin Kolb’s role as going forward?:
“Kevin’s going to have a point where he’s going to play. I think, when he gets that opportunity, when he has success like he did when he came in against Tennessee and he ran the no-huddle component of our offense, he’ll get that confidence back. … He’ll be ready and I expect him to be ready when he’s called upon and to play well. … To answer your question about the changeup as part of an offense, if it gives us a chance to win, to put pressure on an opponent, we absolutely would consider it. It’s not something that you’d always want to go to, but once again, it worked for us in the way we did it back in 2007.”
What kind of challenges does Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson present as you get ready for Week 1?:
“In evaluating him coming out, he’s a very productive college quarterback that you can see has the ability to make some plays. I think the thing that you have to be aware of with him, he’s thrown the ball very well in the preseason, but he’s also made a lot of plays with his feet. It’s going to require, much like when we faced Cam Newton last year, we’ve got to be disciplined in our pass lanes, we’ve got to make sure we protect against that and we’ve got to be good in coverage. … It’ll be an interesting matchup.”