The Arizona Cardinals bagged a 31-27 Week 3 preseason win over the Oakland Raiders, but starting quarterback Kevin Kolb was pilloried once again for a sub-standard performance. Kolb, who signed a $63 million contract before the 2011 season, looked out of his depth in a disastrous outing that saw him complete 3 of 6 passes for 22 yards, take three sacks, suffer an intentional grounding penalty, and take a safety from lineman Tommy Kelly. After the game, Kelly called Kolb "scared," and claimed that the quarterback paid more attention to the officials than the game.
It was the latest series of disasters for a player who, at this point, appears to be one of the biggest trade busts in NFL history. Through the 2012 preseason, Kolb has completed 5 of 15 passes for 47 yards, no touchdowns, one pick and four sacks. He has resembled an NFL quarterback about as much as the Shutdown Corner editorial team resembles an NFL quarterback -- which is to say, not at all.
The latest voice to chime in on Kolb's struggles is not necessarily an objective one, but one attached to a man who very much resembles a future Hall of Fame quarterback who once plied his trade in the Valley of the Sun. Recently asked by Dan Bickley of AZCentral.com to evaluate Kolb's time with the Cardinals, the man who once took this franchise to the precipice of a Super Bowl victory was more tactful, but equally unsparing in his criticism.
"I see the same thing I saw last year," Warner said. "I see a guy who hasn't been able to grasp the system enough to slow the game down, or he doesn't have confidence in what he's seeing. Maybe he understands what the offense is asking him to do, but the game is going too fast, and he's not pulling the trigger."
Warner isn't exhibiting sour grapes, here -- Kolb is the one the Cards would love to replace Warner with, but it's gone so poorly so far that Warner still gets texts begging him to un-retire. He left the game after the 2009 season due to concussion and other injury concerns, and currently works as an analyst for the NFL Network.
"I've been in games when it's hard to get the game to slow down, and it's not a fun place to be," Warner continued. "Everything looks like a jumbled mess. Sometimes you're nervous, sometimes you're anxious. When I watch him on film, it looks like he's looking in the right spots. But that doesn't mean he's seeing it, or that he's seeing what I'm seeing. But he's looking at it and not letting the ball go. What's causing that?"
Whatever is causing it, Kolb's skittishness in the pocket and inability to drop the hammer on the big throw under pressure -- these are tendencies that were just as visible in his time with the Philadelphia Eagles as they are now. But the Eagles' second-round pick in 2007 was able to parlay a limited number of starts with a juiced-up, pass-friendly offense into a huge deal with the Cardinals. It appears that general manager Rod Graves and head coach Ken Whisenhunt ignored one of the NFL's key truisms -- that you must seek to match quarterback and scheme at all times. Warner also spoke about this.
"In Philly, they run much less of a timing-oriented offense," he said. "Maybe he's more used to seeing things develop, watching guys come open and then throwing it. In [Arizona's] offense, that's tough because you'll be late on a lot of throws.
"So what athletic quarterbacks do is, they try to find ways out of the pocket. When you do that, you can use your athleticism and you don't have to read anything anymore. You're just looking for a guy who is open."
That was true of Kolb in college at Houston, and true of Kolb at Philadelphia. Adding him at a very high price to an Arizona offense in which routes develop over time and multiple reads must be made appears, in retrospect, to be an enormous mistake.
Whisenhunt recently announced that John Skelton will start in favor of Kolb on Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans. The coach said that it was merely Skelton's turn in the rotation, but if there are more of these performances by Kolb, the obvious decision will have to go down. Skelton was 3 of 3 for 23 yards and a touchdown in relief of Kolb against the Raiders.