Monday, December 13, 2010
Cards' John Skelton to start again
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said rookie John Skelton will remain the starting quarterback after the Cardinals ended their seven-game losing streak with a 43-13 victory over Denver.
"I think we'll stick with what our plan all along has been," Whisenhunt said on Monday, "and that's to play the best player, the player that gives us the best chance to win. I think right now that's John Skelton."
So the 6-foot-6 fifth-round draft pick from Fordham will be at the controls when the Cardinals play at Carolina on Sunday, even if former starter Derek Anderson is cleared to play. Anderson was sidelined for the Denver game with a concussion.
Skelton completed 15 of 37 passes for 146 yards in his first NFL start, with no interceptions and no sacks. His first seven passes were incomplete but four of them were dropped.
"He did a lot of things that rookie quarterbacks do," Whisenhunt said, "as far as mistakes, as far as play calls in the huddle that were incorrect that had to be changed. All those kinds of things are what you expect. We had a plan that we scaled down for him. I think what I really liked was his demeanor and how he handled himself."
Players, including Skelton himself, have commented on the even-keel temperament of the rookie quarterback.
"They brought a lot of pressure yesterday. He was able to handle that and make some throws," Whisenhunt said. "There's potential there to grow into that position and that's the exciting part of it."
Whisenhunt said the problems included the wrong formation, calling the play the wrong way, or getting to the line of scrimmage and realizing the wrong play was called.
"Those are things, as a fan, you're watching the game and you don't know about," he said. "It gives you concern that you don't want to have one of those things happen at a critical point in the game. You have to work through them, and he will. He put in a tremendous amount of time last week in preparation and I thought, with all factors being considered, he did a good job yesterday."
Skelton, caught by television cameras whistling before the game, said that's just a habit.
"I was a little nervous when the game started, just opening-day jitters and stuff," he said. "But as the game went on I was more and more comfortable and we were able to move the ball a little bit so I guess it was a good first start."
The night before his first pro start, Skelton said he fell asleep watching an HBO special on Vince Lombardi. He said he doesn't get overly emotional about much of anything.
"That's my personality. That's my demeanor," Skelton said. "Sometimes [passing game coordinator] Mike Miller gets onto me about not showing any emotion, getting a little hyped or something. But that's the way I am and that's the way I'll always be. If it's a big game or something I'll be excited but I won't wear my emotions on my sleeve."
Skelton's teammates were especially pleased with the block he threw on a reverse play and the way he put his shoulder into a tackler on the sidelines while scrambling for a first down.
"The first down was right there. I don't want to duck out of bounds before getting the first down," he said. "It was a DB [defensive back]. Why not sell out for a first down?"
Skelton said the team has to get to the end zone more rather than settle for field goals. Jay Feely kicked five of them and scored the team's first touchdown in nine quarters on a fake field goal run.
Whisenhunt praised the defense in its second strong performance in a row.
"When you have a young quarterback, a rookie quarterback, and he's starting or you're making any transition where you're putting a new guy in at that position, other parts of your team have to stand up so you can work through part of the things. That's what happened yesterday. Our defense played the way we all hoped that it would play earlier in the year. That allowed us to work through some things offensively until we could get it rolling," he said.