Cards’ problem lies at QB, must be addressed

GLENDALE, Ariz. — You don’t need good quarterback play to beat the Arizona Cardinals. Anything between “poor” and “avert your eyes” will do.

Take a look at some of the winning performances against the Cards this season.

Vikings QB Christian Ponder completed eight passes for a total of 58 yards in a 21-14 Minnesota win.

Jets QB Mark Sanchez completed 10 passes for 97 yards in a 7-6 New York win.

Rams QB Sam Bradford completed 7 of 21 passes in a 17-3 St. Louis win; then he followed it up with eight completions in a 31-17 St. Louis win. That’s 15 combined completions in two games!

The latest QB to testify was Chicago’s Jay Cutler, who completed just one of his first 11 passes yet still found himself and the Bears leading the Cardinals 14-3 early in Sunday’s second quarter.

How does that happen, you ask? Well, there’s bad quarterback play, and then there’s Cardinals quarterback play.

“It’s tough, isn’t it?” coach Ken Whisenhunt asked rhetorically after the Bears’ 28-13 win Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium. “I’ve said it before. We’re not getting the production out of that position, and it’s hard to win in this league if you don’t do better from that standpoint.”

Ryan Lindley, who currently owns the excuse of being a rookie, completed 17 of 30 passes for 140 yards in just over a half of play on Sunday. It was throw No. 30 that convinced Whisenhunt to usher in the Brian Hoyer era, like a deli counter worker screaming for the next customer.

Lindley locked in on receiver Andre Roberts from the snap, and Bears cornerback Charles Tillman noticed all of the attention. Tillman sat on the route and, when Roberts offered no effort to stop him, caught a pass thrown perfectly between his numbers and danced 10 yards into the end zone for a touchdown that salted away Chicago’s win.

“I’m not sure what happened,” Lindley said in a statement that didn’t exactly validate his grasp of the game. “He obviously made a nice play on the ball. We will have to look on film.”

It was one of two defensive touchdowns the Bears’ turnover- and scoring-happy defense took from the Cardinals. The other came when running back Beanie Wells’ knee buckled at his own goal line and he dropped the ball. Cornerback Zack Bowman scooped it up for a TD.

It has to be frustrating to play defense for the Cardinals. There is no margin for error. Not only must you keep the other team from scoring, you must keep the other team from gaining first downs since that flips field position and asks your offense to actually, you know, sustain a drive.

It’s bad enough that the Arizona rushing offense is ranked dead last in the NFL But in the last six games, Cardinals QBs have no TD passes and have been intercepted 12 times.

“I don’t know how many turnovers we’ve had for touchdowns, pick-sixes,” Whisenhunt said. “Those are things you can’t do, but that’s all part of the process.”

What that process will be when this season concludes is anybody’s guess. Opening day starter John Skelton was inactive Sunday despite being healthy. The club’s best option, Kevin Kolb, is on injured reserve. Lindley hasn’t thrown a TD pass yet this season, and Hoyer is now the fan favorite simply because there aren’t many black marks on his resume — yet.

Tossing Kolb’s stats out, Skelton, Lindley and Hoyer have combined for two TDs and 17 interceptions this season, including one apiece by Lindley and Hoyer on Sunday. So much for gaining momentum from last week’s win over the Lions, a team in equal need of therapy. So much for crafting a winning streak to end the season after nine straight losses.

The Cardinals are going to finish the year losing 11 of its last 12 games after losing next week to the 49ers, a team still battling for a first-round bye with the Packers. When the rubble settles, it will be time to decide what to do with Kolb, Skelton, Lindley and a host of other Cardinals, including Wells and strong safety Adrian Wilson.

Change is certain for the 2013 Cardinals, and quarterback should be the first position addressed. The only remaining question is whether the current coaching staff will be the one addressing those changes.

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