John Skelton’s First start in NFL, Fantastic. Second start, Average

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 12: Quarterback John Skelton #19 of the Arizona Cardinals throws the football during the NFL game against the Denver Broncos at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 12, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Broncos 43-13. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

In his first game as starting Quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals, John Skelton led them to a win against the lowly Broncos by a score 43-13. John had no touchdowns but most importantly he had no sacks and no turnovers. He finished with 15-of-37 for 146 yards.

Here are some article clips from his first start:

“John is, like, emotionless,” wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said.

Even-keeled is a phrase made for Skelton, and if the Cardinals learned anything Sunday, it was that Skelton would carry that personality into games. His first start ended in a 43-13 victory over the Broncos, and while Skelton wasn’t the reason for the win, he wasn’t doing anything to lose it either, and that was enough.

“We didn’t get in the end zone (enough) and that hurts,” Skelton said. “But Jay did a great job kicking field goals and the defense did a great job of getting field position. We didn’t take advantage. I thought I played decent. It’s something to build on.”

Whisenhunt wouldn’t commit to Skelton to start next week in Carolina, noting he didn’t need to make a decision so quickly after the game. But he was clearly impressed with how Skelton handled himself, since “he never seemed flustered.”
Receivers dropped three of Skelton’s first four throws – all incompletions – but Skelton said it didn’t affect him. Third downs were still an issue – the Cards were 4-for-16 – but ultimately, they did score some touchdowns.
 
That’s the kind of thing that earns praise from coach Ken Whisenhunt, who had talked repeatedly of Skelton not being ready and then verbally patted Skelton on the back Sunday.
“He’s by no means a finished product,” Whisenhunt said. “But I’m very pleased with how he handled himself today.”
Nothing that happened Sunday changed the Cards’ offseason plans, nor will it – unless Skelton suddenly posts three straight 330-yard, 3-touchdown games to finish out the year. At this point, Whisenhunt won’t even commit to Skelton as starter next week, although it would be a surprise if Skelton doesn’t get the chance in Carolina.
 

John Skelton throws in 19-12 loss in Carolina. Photo Courtesy of Star-Telegram

In his second start it was a different story. He turned the ball over twice, got sacked three times, and they ended up losing to the Carolina Panthers 19-12. He finished 17-of-33 for 196 yards. But he fumbled the ball away on one sack and airmailed an interception when he tried to force a pass to tight end Stephen Spach, turnovers he had avoided in his first start.

 Here are some more article clips from John’s second game:
 
Whisenhunt and Skelton both said the QB had some trouble with his reads – either missing open receivers, or throwing at the wrong time. That hurt especially since the Cardinals may have done their best job of the season making sure they were in manageable third-down situations, leading to another 4-for-15 conversion rate.
 
“We left a lot of plays on the field like we have in weeks past,” Skelton said. “(My reads) are coming along but I’m still a long way from where I want to be.”
 
Skelton struggled early, throwing his first NFL interception, which led to Carolina’s lone touchdown. He also fumbled the ball away and, Whisenhunt said, missed some calls at the line of scrimmage. But he also liked the way Skelton recovered.

“I think the way he handled himself later in the game is reason to have a lot of optimism about him as a quarterback,” the coach said.

…In John’s first start, he played very well and looked promising. I watched the whole game and he looked like an NFL quarterback out there. The problem is that his wide receivers drop the ball too much. There could have been so many big plays but the team dropped the ball and it stalled any movement on drives. In his second start, the mistakes just kept piling up. The O-line wasn’t protecting as well which led to the three sacks and the pick, the wide receivers dropped more passes, and they turned the ball over way too many times. But what John brings to this Arizona team is a ton of balance. A balance between the run game and the pass game. If you watched the Broncos game you saw the balance between pass and run. Hightower and Wells split the carries and it led to more production on offense. The more they can implement this balance, the more wins the Cardinals will have. In the second game I think John definitely lost reads and he was out of sync which could happen. But he is still developing and he is growing as a player and a quarterback and he is still looking to be the QB of the future. The big test will come against the Cowboys this saturday on Christmas day. One present I want is a John Skelton win and touchdown pass… 

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