You know what’s sillier than NFL preseason games? A good chunk of the people who cover them.
Let’s review. Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb threw an interception on his first pass and got hurt on his fourth and final pass of Sunday’s 17-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. John Skelton led the Cards on their only touchdown drive of the first half (against the Saints’ second-string defense, no less). Naturally, we heard national and local voices proclaiming that Skelton has to be the starter.
This is where it’s necessary to channel a little Allen Iverson and remind everyone what we’re talking about. “Not a game, not a game, not a game,” but a preseason game. Enough already.
Skelton did not win the starting job Sunday. Nor should he have. Kolb did not lose the starting job Sunday. Nor should he have. Three series aren’t sufficient time to do anything more than warm up your arm. The Cardinals have been in camp less than two weeks, yet some are ready to make snap judgments.
No wonder coaches roll their eyes at our profession.
The greatest concern at the quarterback position right now is that Kolb sustained a rib contusion after 307-pound Saints defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis fell on him. The Cards have only five days before they play again (in Kansas City), raising the possibility that Kolb could miss that game and a chance to progress.
Other than that, the only thing to be gleaned from Sunday night’s telecast was that Hall of Fame inductee William Roaf covers an entire television screen when they put him on camera.
That said, there were some high points:
• Linebacker Stewart Bradley made a number of plays in his quest to unseat Paris Lenon for a starting inside linebacker position. So did reserve Quentin Groves.
• Running back LaRod Stephens-Howling looked as dangerous as ever in the open field.
• Punter Dave Zastudil made the Cards look wise for keeping him by booting three punts for a 62-yard average.
There also were some low points:
• The Cards’ tackling was atrocious from start to finish.
• Kolb and Lenon (right ankle) both got hurt.
• The offensive line looked shaky early, forcing Kolb to bail out of the pocket on a couple occasions.
“We made mistakes that were very characteristic of a first game,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said.
There were also some absences that were characteristic of a first game.
Strong safety Adrian Wilson (calf), defensive tackle Darnell Dockett (hamstring) and running backs Beanie Wells (knee) and Ryan Williams (knee) didn’t play.
Aside from that, this was a glorified scrimmage.
There’s no question Kolb’s performance didn’t help him. Nor did the injury, which will fuel the belief that he is soft or brittle. If the injury is serious enough, Skelton could have an opening to take the starting reins.
But the quarterback play Sunday was not sufficient to render a judgment. That will come after the fourth preseason game — unless, of course, you listen to some pundits.